The West Is Tested

If memory serves, it was Obama who said that the West would counter Putin’s nineteenth century actions with twenty-first century methods. Really?

If rule by violent men is nineteenth century, he was half right. Putin rules Russia through violence. He invaded and annexed Crimea. He is instigating violence in east Ukraine and will have war there, one way or another. Putin is a violent man, leading a country full of violent men.

The West’s counter? Talk. Meaningless sanctions. Threats — unlikely to be carried out — of real sanctions. These will not stop Putin; he knows that the West values its comforts too much to take effective action.

History teaches that talk only encourages violent men to further violence. Only a greater force can stop those who live by violence, and the longer it takes to apply that force, the greater the ensuing destruction.

So long as the West abjures force, Putin, his allies, and his successors will keep winning. Eventually, they will go too far but, by then, the tyrannies will be far more dangerous. There will be war and the West will win, if anyone does, but the cost will be countless lives, not the mere wealth that prompt action would have cost.

A day has passed since I wrote the words above. Today, lives have been lost among the Ukrainian security forces, and escalation seems certain. Will today, April 13, 2014, be remembered for the first shots of World War III? Unless the West acts soon and with adequate force, it well may.

Firing My Lawyer

Back in September, I told my lawyer that we were going to challenge my prior conviction and certain other damaging information, so as to minimize my likely sentence. At first, she claimed that she could not do it. I did the research and proved her wrong. She then agreed to do as I asked — and has done so.

What she has not done is the preparation to make the challenge a successful one. She said she would do so but, in late January, I made her admit that she had failed to do various critical tasks. She then said that she would get them in process before she left for her maternity leave. A month into that, I discovered that nothing was in process and that her boss was against doing the necessary. I have already had dealings with her boss. He’s an “I’m a lawyer, you’re not, so shut the fuck up” sort of guy, so I’m not going to fight them on this. I’m going to the judge to ask for a new lawyer.

I’ve had six appointed lawyers. All but one of them screwed up big time — and that one lawyer hasn’t done anything yet, allegedly because she’s waiting for transcripts. (Four months so far….) Two of these lawyers willfully screwed me over. One of them was simply incompetent. I’m still trying to figure out what’s with my soon-to-be-ex lawyer: Are her failures her own or her boss’s? (The last lawyer was likely minor incompetence.)

Welcome to the American criminal “justice” system….

Legal Help, Please

(This post is written for those with some familiarity with the law. It therefore contains unexplained legalese.)

Back a decade, I was coerced into pleading guilty to a crime that everyone involved (except me, I was lied to) knew had not happened. The plea itself lacked an adequate factual basis. Being a federal prisoner, I filed a 2255 motion, which was denied in a proceeding that so lacked due process that the resulting judgment is void.

I could file a Rule 60(b)(4) motion on my own to reopen my 2255 proceedings. I have not done so because I am persuaded that the Connecticut District Court and the Second Circuit will again ignore the merits of my filings.

My current lawyer, a federal public defender, agrees with my evaluation of my conviction and 2255 proceedings. However, the law forbids her to file the Rule 60 motion on my behalf; she is not appointed in that case. I therefore need to find another lawyer.

During my discussions with my lawyer, I realized that I have another route to relief. 2255(e) forbids the use of habeas corpus if I haven’t filed a 2255 or have had my 2255 denied. So, it would seem that I could file a 2241 petition and allege that, though I filed a 2255 motion, the denial of that motion is void. I haven’t done so because I fear that New Jersey will be as hostile to my filings as Connecticut has been, though I will do so as a last resort.

I am looking for a lawyer who can file a Rule 60 motion in Connecticut or a 2241 petition in New Jersey. I do not have money for this. I believe that a good argument can be made for a CJA appointment, so that is a possible source of payment. Otherwise the representation would have to be pro bono.

I would give my lawyer’s contact info, but she is going on maternity leave. I have complete information on the issues, and can be contacted at:

Theodore William Wells
Alexandria Detention Center
2001 Mill Road
Alexandria, VA 22314

Please forward this post to anyone who might help and any forum where it would be appropriate, but do not do so after the end of February of 2014.

Thank you for any help you can provide.

Over the Rainbow

Many libertarians have wished there was a place to build a free society. Nowhere on land is this possible. Space colonies are no more than a distant dream. An ocean based society might work, but it is as yet impracticable for such a society to be truly free from control by existing governments.

Inspired by Google’s testing of network access by high altitude balloons, I asked myself why a free city couldn’t be floated high above most of the world’s dangers. I did some basic calculations and persuaded myself that it isn’t impossible. That, however, is a far cry from showing that it can be done. I should do a conceptual design, a sketch of a possible floating city that describes all of its important parts. If that goes well, it would show that it is worth putting real effort into libertaria in the sky.

This is a large undertaking, one best done by more than one mind. So I’m throwing the idea so that others may contribute if they will. I’ll post more shortly. Constructive comments — positive or negative — are welcome.

More Legal Hassles

When I was released from prison back in February of 2012, I was supposed to report to “supervised release”, a sort of probation a federal prisoner is usually stuck with after his prison term. I decided to Hell with that — I had good reason to think that I would be sent back to prison no matter how well I followed their rules — and became a fugitive.

Then, in November of 2012, I had a bicycle accident and fractured my skull. I was identified at the hospital (Big Brother watches hospital emergency rooms) and sent back to prison. My legal situation is fluid, but I could be released in just a few months, though it could be as long as a year and a half.

In the mean time, I have friends who will type things in and manage my blog. They will also send comments to me. I’m pretty sure that lavabit.com is no more, so my old email address no longer works. In any case, no one is monitoring it. More current contact information should be in the Why This Blog? page. I welcome mail from anyone.

The American Devolution

According to a Gallup poll, 49% of Americans believe the federal government has become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. This number has been steadily increasing since 2003, when Gallup first started asking the question:

2003-2011 Trend: Do you think the federal government poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens, or not?

You’d think that, if half of America recognizes their danger, there would be a revolution. But, no. That revolution would require Americans to actually risk their entitlements and faux rights. If they won’t risk that, they certainly aren’t about to risk their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor!

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USA Today’s Fingers in Ears

The other day, I ran across an article that reported that prisoners let out of prison at the end of their sentences are given more help from the government than accuseds’ who are found innocent when they are freed from prison. The article ignored one rather important fact: What the government says it does is not what it actually does.

I could go on for quite awhile about that fact but I need only illustrate my point. Federal law requires that its prisoners complete courses in six areas before release, courses that, for example, teach the prisoners such things as how to manage money. Sounds reasonable? Well, the one I took was taught by a prisoner who had been in prison so long that he did not know the present-day realities of managing money. The government will tell you that this course teaches a lot; they have tests to prove it. What they won’t tell you is that the instructor gave the answers to the questions on the final while we were taking it. Three of the other courses were the same. The other two “courses” consisted of some officials giving a lecture that contained nothing more than typical government lies about how it was there to help prisoners get back on their feet.

As someone with firsthand knowledge of this, I was in a unique position to comment on the article. I’ll let my e-mail tell the rest of the story:

Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2012 16:18:19 -0400
From: Bill Wells
To: debrown@usatoday.com
Subject: commenting forbidden

I had wished to comment on a recent article about how innocent prisoners are helped on release less than those found guilty, as I have specific, relevant input on the topic.

Then I read that only those who have Facebook accounts can comment.

Facebook doesn’t allow those who are convicted sex offenders to have accounts.

Therefore, USA Today does not allow convicted sex offenders to comment on its posts.

Therefore, I may not provide my input.

It’s bad enough that America has a government that will convict those who are demonstrably not guilty. But that’s to be expected when its news media do things like refusing to hear the government’s victims.

 

From: “Brown, Desair E”
To: Bill Wells
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2012 16:19:50 -0400
Subject: RE: commenting forbidden

Hi Bill,

Thanks very much for the e-mail. We understand that not everyone is interested in using Facebook or even able to use a Facebook account to comment, but part of the reason for the switch is to help enhance the conversation and moderation on USATODAY.com. So far we’ve seen dramatic improvements there. The hope is that creating a more welcoming environment will encourage all readers to participate in the conversation, but I recognize the hindrances it may cause for people unable to access Facebook for whatever reason. I have alerted my supervisor to this specific issue and we’ll be sure to keep the feedback in mind for future enhancements to the site.

If they’ve committed to using Facebook as their comment filter, they’re not going to be creating additional mechanisms to enable sex offenders (and would-be pseudonymous commenters, and anyone else unable to use Facebook) to comment. That would defeat the purpose of using Facebook. Moreover, there are far better ways to improve the quality of comments than using Facebook. So, their reply was disingenuous.

Freedom of the press belongs to those who own the presses. But USA Today will never get my patronage and I wish them only a rapid and unpleasant descent into insolvency and dissolution.

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Innocence Doesn’t Matter

This is not a diatribe against the legal system’s disdain for the question of its victims’ innocence. Not that I couldn’t write such a diatribe. I’d start with Herrera v. Collins, which decided that it was OK for a government to murder a convict even if there was solid evidence of that person’s innocence. This is, instead, an explanation of what might seem to some a curious omission.

I did not claim my innocence in the posts about my prosecution. I merely discussed why my prosecution was a travesty. I’ve been working on another post in which I will discuss the evidence that my prosecution was based on but, again, I won’t claim my innocence.

Justice is not merely a matter of punishing those who happen to be guilty, it is a process of determining guilt or innocence by applying principles of reasoning to facts. When a government obtains a conviction by violating its own rules, or the rules of reason and morality, that conviction is wrong even if the accused is in fact guilty.

That said, I will use this opportunity to say: I did not sexually assault the alleged victim.

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Criminal Judges and Justices, Redux

In Criminal Judges and Judges, I described how my federal defender forced me to plead guilty and how the courts allowed him to get away with it. In A Criminal Prosecutor and Public Defender, I described how the defense and government attorneys, both federal employees, conspired to get me to plead guilty to kidnapping—even though they knew that there had been no kidnapping. I ended the latter with, “but my habeas proceedings were, possibly, worse.” Here’s what I meant.

To be guilty of violating the kidnapping statute, I had to “take” the alleged victim, “hold” her for some purpose, and transport her interstate. However, according to the court that ruled on my habeas petition,

Mr. Wells acknowledged that he made untrue representations to the victim in order to induce her to come to his house [this is a taking by inveiglement], that he did so to satisfy a plan or need of his own rather than to counsel or treat her [this is a purpose], and that he transported her from Connecticut to New Jersey [this is interstate transport] knowing it was against the law. Nothing more was required to ensure that Mr. Wells’s guilty plea was knowing and voluntary and was supported by an adequate factual basis. [p. 22 of the district court's ruling]

It’s easy to see that the facts don’t equate to a kidnapping. A kidnapping requires the victim to be held and the facts don’t contain a holding. My plea should never have been accepted in the first place and, when I challenged it in my habeas corpus proceedings, it should have been set aside. However, the court didn’t see it that way.

A “holding” under § 1201(a)(1) implies an intent to restrain the victim’s movements contrary to her wishes. Chatwin v. United States, 326 U.S. 455, 460 (1946). In other words, a victim is “held” or detained when the defendant transports her without her consent. See United States v. McGrady, 191 F.2d 829 (7th Cir. 1951) (noting that the holding element of the statute can be achieved by mental as well as physical means); United States v. Lewis, 662 F.2d 1087, 1088 (4th Cir. 1981); United States v. McBryar, 553 F.2d 433, 434 (5th Cir. 1977). Where, as here, kidnapping is accomplished by inveigling, the “holding” is implicit in the kidnapping and transporting, since inveigling necessarily contemplates that the victim’s apparent consent was in fact obtained by deception. Cf. United States v. Sanford, 169 F.2d 71, 72 (8th Cir. 1948) (inveigling victim to eventually rob him implied that he had not given consent, although it appeared he had); United States v. Boone, 959 F.2d 1550, 1557 (11th Cir. 1992) (noting that an inveigled person cannot validly consent to be transported because the willingness to be transported is the result of the defendant’s deception). [p. 20-21]

The court misrepresented Chatwin. Chatwin said that a holding is an intentional restraint of a victim against his will, not “[a holding] implies an intent to restrain the victim’s movements contrary to her wishes.” That is, a holding requires an actual restraint, and an actual desire to be not restrained. (In fact, Chatwin concluded that the alleged victim in that case could not have been held because, first, she was persuaded that she ought to cohabit with her alleged kidnapper and, second, because she was free to come and go at will.) Moreover, Chatwin did not discuss the transport element at all, much less how lack of consent might interact with interstate transport to produce a holding.

The court asserted that, “In other words, a victim is ‘held’ or detained when the defendant transports her without her consent.” and then restated that as, “Where, as here, kidnapping is accomplished by inveigling, the ‘holding’ is implicit in the kidnapping and transporting, since inveigling necessarily contemplates that the victim’s apparent consent was in fact obtained by deception.” Although the court cited lots of cases, not one, from Chatwin on down, said anything even remotely like that. No court (other than this one) has ever allowed that merely inveigling someone across state lines could be a kidnapping. To the contrary, when courts have addressed the issue, such as in Chatwin and Boone, they have concluded explicitly that merely inveigling someone across a state line does not suffice for a kidnapping.

As I discussed in Criminal Judges and Judges, the court gave a similarly bogus justification for rejecting my claim that my lawyer’s failure to investigate required setting aside my guilty plea. I made many other claims, such as the claim that my lawyer failed to call to the court’s attention an error in the sentencing calculation that added almost two years to my prison term, which the court rejected on equally specious grounds. Either this judge of fifteen years experience was totally incompetent, impossible given her many other rulings on record, or she willfully twisted the law in order to deny a habeas petition that she knew the law required her to grant.

In order to appeal the denial of my habeas petition, I needed to get a certificate of appealability. To get one, I merely needed to show that reasonable jurists could debate the court’s ruling. That was easy to show for the claim I discussed here, as several courts have addressed the very same issue but came to diametrically opposed conclusions.

Well, the court refused to give me a certificate of appealability. No surprise there. The appeals court also did. Big surprise there. That, however, wasn’t the end.

When someone loses an appeal, he may ask the Supreme Court to review his case. Most of the time, the Supreme Court refuses to even look at it. However, once a habeas petitioner is denied a certificate of appealability by the lower courts, he has the option of applying to a Supreme Court justice for one. The justice must then actually look at the case and either grant or deny a certificate of appealability. In my case, I was clearly entitled to the certificate. However, Justice Ginsburg said no. Then I asked Justice Thomas, who handed my application off to the whole Supreme Court, which then said no.

In short, one district court judge, three appeals court judges, and at least five Supreme Court justices decided that they were above the law, so that they could preserve a conviction that they had to know was illegal. What happened to me had nothing to do with justice.

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Against Conscience

This is a post to which I must add, “Amen!”

Against Conscience, by Maggie McNeill

Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it. – Dante Alighieri (Purgatorio XIII, 88)

So it has come to this: for a number of years now, it has been literally impossible to live in the United States (and a number of other Western countries) without breaking the law on a regular basis; civil rights attorney Harvey Silverglate estimates that the average American commits three felonies every day. [...]

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