Great Moments in Jurisprudence


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2dogs
July 14, 2003, 07:18 AM
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,91793,00.html

Great Moments in Jurisprudence

Lawyers for a man convicted of possessing a machine gun claim his trial was unfair because the judge and jurors recited the Pledge of Allegiance in court, reports the Denver Post.

In an appeal, the public defender for Frank Wonschik said the jurors' recitation of the pledge only five months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, constituted a violation of his right to a fair trial by an impartial jury.

The lawyer said it was wrong for jurors to have pledged themselves to one of the parties in the trial -- the U.S. government.

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Preacherman
July 14, 2003, 11:24 AM
Here's the full article from the Denver Post (http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36~53~1499599,00.html):

Article Published: Tuesday, July 08, 2003 - 12:00:00 AM MST

Courtroom Pledge was biased against suspect, appeal says
By Jim Hughes, Denver Post Staff Writer

A man convicted in 2002 of illegally possessing a machine gun should be given a new trial because a judge recited the Pledge of Allegiance with his prospective jurors in court, the defendant's lawyer argued Monday in federal court.

The jurors' courtroom recitation of the Pledge only five months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, constituted a violation of Frank Wonschik's right to a fair trial by an impartial jury, said his public defender, Jill Wichlens.

The February 2002 trial came "at a time when patriotism was at its zenith," so Wonschik did not feel free to object to the Pledge at the time, Wichlens wrote in a brief for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"In such a climate, had Mr. Wonschik objected ... he inevitably would have alienated some, if not all, of the panel members," she wrote.

In court documents, Wichlens said it was wrong for jurors to have pledged themselves to one of the parties in the trial - the U.S. government.

District Judge William Downes, chief judge of the federal court in Casper, Wyo., presided over Wonschik's trial in Denver.

Downes opened the proceedings that day with a long, patriotic speech describing his feelings about the legal system after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.

"I didn't do it before Sept. 11," he said of the Pledge of Allegiance, according to court documents. "I just didn't think it needed to intrude on the business of the court every time we pick a jury trial. I was wrong. Each of us, me included, on an occasion of this importance, needs to remind ourselves of our obligation to our country."

After leading Wonschik's 47 potential jurors in the Pledge, Downes asked prosecutors if they were ready to begin jury selection by saying, "Is the United States of America ready to proceed?"

This, Wichlens argued, may have made jurors feel they had to accept the government's case against Wonschik.

But Robert Russel, arguing for the government Monday, disagreed.

In his briefings, Russel wrote that the Pledge did Wonschik no harm. It may even have swayed jurors his way, he said.

"This activity might actually be desirable from the defense standpoint, for it reminds prospective jurors that their service is necessary to ensure 'liberty and justice for all,"' Russel wrote.

Also, Downes repeatedly reminded jurors during the trial that Wonschik, like all criminal defendants, was to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, Russel wrote.

Three appeals judges took the matter under advisement Monday.

Nathaniel Firethorn
July 14, 2003, 12:27 PM
OTOH, it could have helped the defense. After all, "the republic for which it stands" is supposed to be run according to this beat-up old rag called the Bill of Rights...

- pdmoderator

Cosmoline
July 14, 2003, 02:17 PM
What possible purpose is there in swearing an oath to the US, esp. when the US is one of the parties? The jurors should not be doing this sort of thing. They are not there to to celebrate patrotism, but to judge facts.

Raymond VanDerLinden
July 14, 2003, 03:12 PM
.....that the only people allowed on a jury should have no allegiance to the United States?
So what do we do? Have Jurys made up of Illegal Aliens?
Or Maybe Just people that never vote, never pay taxes, and run for the northern border if ask to serve their country?

Setting on a jury and hearing the case is what a partiot would do. Voting not guilty is every bit as patriotic as a guilty vote. That is how the United States is suppose to work.

Cosmoline
July 14, 2003, 03:19 PM
Having jurors say the pledge is at best pointless and at worst it could cause a biased mindset. They should not be thinking in terms of defending the motherland.

But I have no doubt I am in a minority. I dislike the pledge almost as much as I hate those little sticky flags people put on their cars. The pledge makes patriotism mandatory and forces the swearing of an oath to a civil government and its chosen faith, while the flags are the worst form of denegration. Flags should be properly treated and properly disposed of when they begin to fade. THey should not be placed on plastic, then allowed to get filthy and fade in the sun until somebody scrapes them off and tosses them in the garbage. :cuss:

But I digress :D

Seminole
July 14, 2003, 06:32 PM
Let's think for a moment about the logic behind the "pledge of allegiance."

First, pledging allegiance to the flag is a logical absurdity because the flag is merely a symbol. There is absolutely no point in pledging allegiance to a mere symbol, especially one that changes from time to time (as the U.S. flag has done several times).

Secondly, the idea of pledging "allegiance to the Republic for which it stands" is also a logical absurdity given the founding documents of that republic. The definition of "allegiance" in my dictionary is "the obligation of a feudal vassal to his liege lord, the fidelity of a subject owed to his sovereign or government." The concept of "subjects" who owe allegiance to their superiors is foreign to both the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Our Declaration of Independence states that governments derive their "just Powers from the Consent of the Governed" and that liberty is an unalienable right of all people. The Republic owes allegiance to its citizens and citizens owe no allegiance to the Republic.

Benjamin Franklin stated it this way at the Constitutional Convention: "In free governments, the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns." For a sovereign citizen to pledge allegiance to the Republic is exactly backwards. The Republic exists for us as individuals. Citizens do not pledge to it; pledges are for subservient subjects of kings or National Socialist governments ? not American citizens.

These are among the reasons I will not recite the pledge of allegiance. I won't bore you with a critique of the other phrases in the pledge, but I find them equally objectionable.

Let us not forget that the pledge of allegiance is the product of the collectivist national socialist movement of the late 19th century. It is antithetical to not only the founding documents of this country, but also to the spirit of the individuals who founded it and who pledged only "to each other Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor" as they fought for liberty. The idea of allegiance to a sovereign state is precisely what they fought against.

BowStreetRunner
July 14, 2003, 10:18 PM
i have to agree with the defense attorney on this one
i have nothing agaisnt the PoA, but like the man said, pledging alligance to one party of a trial is kinda skewed
......
"I pledge alligaince, to Phillip Morris, and to the Cigarettes for which they stand"
.....
a different comparison but still.....
BSR

Raymond VanDerLinden
July 15, 2003, 03:41 AM
You are right that the flag is just a symbol. A symbol of the United States the Republic of the United States the oldest form of Goverment still on the face of the Earth, and still the most free. And Yup its changed from time to time, around 30 times I think. Mostly because more people wanted to become part of this Goverment.

The flaw in your logic is that you fail to understand that the Goverment is us. You and me and every other voting Person. We are the Republic, not the President or Congress, but WE THE PEOPLE! So when I pledge my Alligance, what I am pledging to is the Republic of the People for the People and by the People. Nowhere in the Pledge do I pledge anything to the President or the House or the Senate or the Courts.

This alligance is to my peers not some feudal lord, but to my equals. Do I owe you that alligance Dang straight, and you owe me the same. Because if we don't support each others Freedom under the Constitution, this Republic will continue to die. To say that you owe nothing, but the rest of us owe you, IS the sickness that is killing this Republic. What you are saying is that You are the liege lord, and the rest of the Republic (the People) owe you alligance, and support. And that you are under no obligation to return that support. I firmly hope that is not what you truely believe.

Since you saw fit to quote Franklin I will too. "Gentlemen if we do not hang together, we will most surely hang seperately." That fellow members of the Republic is as true now as then. And to your Freedom under the Just laws of this Republic is what I pledge my Alligance to.

On the Jury we are to Judge not only if a person broke the law, but also if the law it's self is Just. If the law is not Just the should be no conviction.

Gentlemen this Republic and the "Goverment" is what we have made it and allowed it to become. Only WE THE PEOPLE can change it back to what it should be. And to that end I do pledge my Life , my Fortune, and my Sacred Honor. And to this Battered old Republic I pledge my Alligence.

My ammo box stands ready, my ballot box will be filled, and my soap box I'll step down from for a moment.

HBK
July 15, 2003, 04:36 AM
I like Raymond's take on this.

seeker_two
July 15, 2003, 05:27 AM
Well said, Raymond...:cool:

This shyster doesn't have a case, so he's grasping at any straw...:rolleyes:

I doubt it will go too far...:neener:

MicroBalrog
July 15, 2003, 06:55 AM
Lawyers for a man convicted of possessing a machine gun claim his trial was unfair because the judge and jurors recited the Pledge of Allegiance in court, reports the Denver Post

Nobody sees anything else wrong with this? Nobody?:uhoh:

dustind
July 15, 2003, 09:48 AM
Yes MicroBalrog, I was just about to post that.

I just got done studying the Miller case, that needs to be revisited by the supremes. There was no defence, the hillbilly moonshiners disapeared into the woods after the first county trial, never to be seen again. Their laywer never even filed a brief. The prosecutor lied through his teeth, and none of the judges caught on. :cuss: :banghead: :fire: :barf:

2dogs
July 15, 2003, 10:16 AM
'I want to raise my children to be citizens of the world'

I don't care what your particular feelings are about the flag, the pledge, patriotism, etc. I hate these people.:mad:

We have an old church near us, called Gloria Dei, also known as Old Swedes because it was founded by Swedish immigrants in the early 1700's. There is also a day care which, I believe, is not affiliated with the church, but it is on the same grounds as the church (all of which is now a national historic site).

Anyway, they have but one flagpole- and of late they have stopped flying the American flag and started flying the Swedish flag. I suppose they can fly whatever flag they want, and at least there is a Swedish connection- but on a national historic site?

NEWS FLASH: This ain't SWEDEN.

-----------------------------------------------







THE RED, WHITE AND BLUE
Some don't like U.S. flag
at school
'I want to raise my children to be citizens of the world'

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted: July 15, 2003
1:00 a.m. Eastern



© 2003 WorldNetDaily.com





Some parents in a southern Oregon town are protesting plans of the local school district to erect a flagpole and U.S. flag outside a taxpayer-supported learning center, reports the Ashland Daily Tidings.

"I feel very strongly that there should not be a flagpole and there should not be a flag," Tracy Bungay told the paper.

"I feel our country is on a strong push towards imperialism, and we're not a democratic nation anymore. I want to raise my children to be citizens of the world, and the flag does not represent ideals I want to instill in my children. It represents dominance, greed, corporate power and not freedom. I think it even represents commercialism and consumerism."

The Willow Wind Community Learning Center is a government-funded facility that supports homeschoolers who live in the district but do not attend public schools.

The Ashland School District decided it would erect the flag and flagpole this fall after 13-year-old Jesse Stanton asked that Old Glory fly outside the learning center, the Ashland paper said.

According to the report, the teen first contacted the facility's director, Debi Pew, about putting up the flag.

"She (Pew) told me when I first asked her that it would be offensive to some students and it couldn't happen," Stanton told the paper. "It was disappointing, but I wasn't completely surprised because I know there are a good deal of people there who don't look at the flag or America favorably."

Stanton says he is "one of the only ones who speaks out on my views that support patriotism and pro-Americanism," said the report.

While Oregon law requires that both a U.S. flag and state flag fly at every "public school building," it was unclear to district officials whether or not the learning center – technically not a "school" – fell under the requirement. According to the report, officials decided the building, since it was supported by district funds, was subject to the regulation.

Some anti-flag parents felt the issue should have come up for a vote of affected families.

"I think everyone in our community at Willow Wind should have a say in this," Julie Bedford told the Daily Tidings. "One person does not have the right to go above everyone's heads. It's completely the opposite of democracy."

Stanton's mother told the paper she was convinced if the issue did go before the parents, the flag would be rejected.

"We are the minority at the community learning center," Anne Stanton said, according to the report. "We are going to get the flag there because it's public law, but if we just had to work with [the Community Learning Center] it would probably be vetoed because we're the minority."

Art Eatman
July 15, 2003, 05:52 PM
The United States of America is a dream, an idea, an ideal. The dream has yet to be attained, and most likely never will--but, so what? We should not aspire to our dreams and our ideals?

We've never been a Beaver Cleaver world--but, so what? What's wrong with wishing our world could indeed be that nice? Are cynicism and bitterness somehow become higher virtues?

The Pledge of Allegiance is to an idea, and the flag is indeed the symbol of that idea. The Republic itself ain't what it oughta be, but so what? Why should we not try to make it the ideal?

I've never seen perfection, not even when I shave. :) That doesn't mean I should not endeavor to live with honor and integrity. The same holds for all of us within this realm of ideas: Cherish and respect the dream.

Art

Raymond VanDerLinden
July 15, 2003, 09:12 PM
Dustind found real reasons to revisit the case. Prosicutor lying (not a crime unfortunately) can prejudice a jury. Incompetant Defense Good reason. Missing witnesses good reason.

Reciting the Pledge, the fact that there was an American Flag in the room, or even that the trail was held in :what: a Federal building. None of those are reasons.

If all miller is charged with is possession of an NFA Weapon and not the miss use of it then he should never been found guilty in the first place. The Jury should have found the law unjust.

bjengs
July 15, 2003, 09:47 PM
Well said, Seminole.Our Declaration of Independence states that governments derive their "just Powers from the Consent of the Governed" and that liberty is an unalienable right of all people. The Republic owes allegiance to its citizens and citizens owe no allegiance to the Republic. The Founders would have been repulsed at the concept of the Pledge.

dustind
July 16, 2003, 03:10 PM
The Miller case is not the one this thread is about, Miller was in 1939, right after prohibition ended. The NFA was found highly unconstitutional but was appealed to the supreme court, no one showed up or even filed a brief for the defence. The feds did not have a chance in heck of winning, had zero case, lied(said the shotgun Miller owned was not issued to the military, the perticular gun was not, but that exact model was) and mislead them about other parts, they also did not mention machine guns, which would have killed their case.

The decision said that we are not allowed to own short barreled guns because they have no military purpose. Which is a flat out lie.

They never mentioned machine guns in the second case, despite getting their butts chewed off about it in the first. You can imagine that would have easily failed in the second trial, machine guns have been used by our military for over 100 years, and have been standard issue for a long time.

Suppressors were also not mentioned in the second case.

The feds painted the case as a simple revinue enhancing tax. $200 for a $10 gun, the same $200 tax on a two dollar supressor. Not to mention the tax is almost impossible to pay unless you beg for permission and wait six months.

FYI This is also how the fed.gov outlawed drugs, by putting a tax stamp on them, one that you can not pay.

Gordon Fink
July 16, 2003, 03:32 PM
Okay, Raymond …

I pledge Allegiance to the People of the United States of America and to the Republic which they embody: one Nation, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

How’s that for a revised pledge?

~G. Fink

JohnBT
July 16, 2003, 04:03 PM
"They should not be thinking in terms of defending the motherland."

I thought we were all supposed to be thinking in those terms.

Okay. No PofA for the jury. No flag for the courtroom. No Bible for the swearing in. Can they have chairs to sit on? Furniture is a symbol of civilization and might bias their thinking. What about windows? Can they have windows? Heaven forbid they see outside and think about the real world. Oops. I said Heaven.

John

Seminole
July 16, 2003, 05:19 PM
Gordon Fink wrote: I pledge Allegiance to the People of the United States of America and to the Republic which they embody: one Nation, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

Better, but the People do not embody the Republic--they constitute it. The difference is crucial. The People are prior to, more important than, and sovereign over the State.

I am also not convinced that the "indivisible" part is constitutional. And frankly, I don't find the concepts of "liberty and justice" to which the national socialist author of the pledge adhered to be very applealing. Not that I'm against liberty and justice, mind you, but I don't want to give credence to Francis Bellamy's ideology by reciting the words he penned and to which he attributed specific meaning.

What is wrong with pledging faithfulness to the Constitution? Now there's a thought--a jury of sovereign citizens who pledge to faithfully uphold the Constitution of the United States. If a pledge to "uphold and defend" the Constitution is good enough for our elected officials, surely it is good enough for us. On the whole, we can't do a worse job of it than they.

Raymond VanDerLinden
July 17, 2003, 03:06 AM
Dunstind, I knew that just not fireing on all cylinders when I read your post. I will still maintain what I said about Wonschick's trail and the appeal. There has got to be a better reason for appeal. And that is he was only charged with a NFA violation the should have been a Jury Nullifacation. Of Course allmost no one serving on a jury even knows that the Jury can do that, the Judge won't tell them and the Defense isn't allowed to.

Gordon, I have no problem with the Original Pledge but yours with Seminole's change would work as well.

Seminole, the OATH to Support and Defend the Constitution is vastly more important than the PoA, and yet it is abused and forgotten by most who take it. Yes I'd like to see it taken by Jurys and remembered by Judges who have taken it I also like to see those that make a habit of breaking that Oath removed from what ever job they hold and charged criminally.

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