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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Location: Northwest Arkansas, United States

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Collective Bargaining Against the State

Via Ender's Review. Vin Suprynowicz has an interesting proposal: collective bargaining for drug law victims.
Our freedom-hating, pain-loving War on Drugs depends on the tactic of "overcharging," and then offering attractive deals -- reduced charges, easier sentences -- in exchange for guilty pleas. Fewer than 5 percent of all drug cases ever go to trial.

Again, the drug war depends on this -- if every drug arrest led to a trial, the courts would be so swamped that some defendants couldn't be scheduled for trial dates for many years into the future. Their attorneys could then win complete dismissal of all charges based on the violation of the constitutional right to a speedy trial.

So all members of our new union need to do is this: Agree to demand a jury trial. No plea bargains -- no guilty pleas, ever. Otherwise, please don't join.

Today, no individual defense attorney can in good conscience advise any individual defendant not to take the deal. But all the drug war defendants have to do is sign up and agree that -- once an arbitrary number of drug defendants estimated to be 25 percent of all those currently charged have signed on -- a "D-Day" will be announced, and all brother members will immediately demand jury trials. Furthermore, they will advise their attorneys not to stipulate or agree to any delay in a trial date, even if the prosecutor choked to death on a chicken bone last night.

Union brothers will instruct their counsel to file for dismissal based on denial of a speedy trial on the 181st day, and keep filing, and publicize these filings with dramatic courthouse-step press conferences. Invite Amnesty International and the International Red Cross to participate. Mention what percentage of these defendants, being held without trial, are black or Hispanic. Mention it constantly.

What will the Fearless Drug Warriors do? Even with only 25 percent of drug defendants joining up and participating, trials that can now be started within a year will have to be scheduled at least three years into the future. The Drug Warriors will have no choice but to prosecute their "worst" cases first, turning at least two thirds of all drug defendants loose.

And once additional drug war defendants see this starting to happen, and proceed to sign up and demand their jury trials, those scheduled trials will start to stretch four, five, six years into the future. The freedom-hating thugs will be swamped!

Back in 2000, I had a similar idea about organizing to make the census worthless. Anyone who received the long form would give false answers to all questions--the more spectacularly erroneous, the better. Then, they would send an anonymous letter under separate cover to the Census Bureau telling them that they'd returned a long form filled with completely worthless information. Finally, they'd send copies of the anonymous letter to news outlets of their choice. If it were well publicized that a significant portion of long form recipients deliberately sabotaged the process, the Census Bureau and the general public would know that the resulting statistics were worthless.


Blogger Sheldon Richman said...

Speaking of the Census, back when the old Society for Individual Liberty used to hold its decennial protest against the Census, I came up with what I thought was a pretty good slogan: "Stand up and don't be counted!" Goodnight. I'll be here all week, folks.

January 25, 2006 12:30 PM  
Blogger Vache Folle said...

It might even be possible to generate enough sympathy in the jury pool to make sure that just about any jury will have a nullificationist on it who will refuse to convict on any drug charge.

January 25, 2006 1:25 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...


(Groan). I was one of those who stood up myself in 2000. I had somebody stand and knock intermittently at my door for as long as fifteen minutes, during several return visits I was there to enjoy. I assume they finally just asked my neighors for the info, since I only got a short form. I'm really surprised they gave up so easily, since I'd heard horror stories about how persistent they were and the punishment for noncompliance.

But their reputation for single-mindedness may have been exaggerated. More recently, the town where I live did a "special census" to get more grants-in-aid from Little Rock and Washington (so the local pigs can buy more kevlar vests and kick in more doors at 3AM). Two different census workers came to my front door to ask me about the neighbor. When I told them I only have a vague idea how long the neighbors had been there, and how many kids they had, the census worker suggested (in almost as many words) that I just make some shit up so they wouldn't have to come back. "So, would you say they've been there six months?" "I really don't know." "But six months is probably close enough, right?" "I guess." "OK, six months it is, then."

vache folle,

I wonder if it would be possible, along the lines of Suprynowicz' proposal, to get those with little to lose to agree to take the stand and contaminate the jury with some pro-nullification propaganda before the court could shut them up. A bunch of mistrials or contempt charges, as the result of an organized movement, would itself gain a lot of general public attention to free jury rights.

January 25, 2006 9:17 PM  

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