Tag Archives: civil liberties

England’s Civil Rights Violations against Megan Stammers and Jeremy Forrest

The latest statement from Megan Stammers is a mere reaffirmation that she loves Jeremy Forrest—what a shock, right? (see article copied below and original at) : http://uk.news.yahoo.com/teacher-guilty-abducting-girl-015659048.html#BosaHOx

I have no idea what course of action the attorneys for the Forrest or Stammers families might be planning in England.  And quite honestly I have no practical experience in U.K. Civil Rights/Civil Liberties law whatsoever, knowing only that “the mother country” has no inalterable Bill of Rights.  

To lack a written constitution as Britain does means that all of the rights established by the Anglo-American world’s FIRST expressly-denominated Bill of Rights (from the Glorious Revolution of William & Mary in 1689) are alterable at the merest whim of Parliament without any “Constitutional” objection.   I first saw  the effects of this Parliamentary derogation process as a teenager during the 1970s when I secretly harbored sympathies for the Irish Republicans even when they were most actively bombing and subverting the peace.  

My Galveston, Texas-born grandfather had all sorts of friends and relations in high places in England, some of whom were targeted by the IRA, so he was a staunch Tory when it came to all things English vs. Irish.  Even after he died in 1980, I think my grandmother would have been appalled and horrified if she had known that my Irish-American girlfriend of long-standing (of whom she kept a favorite picture on her dresser because “she looks like a silent-pictures movie star from the ’20s”) had an elder brother who “tithed” to the Irish Republican Army/Sein Fein and kept a picture of Eamon de Valera and other Republican heroes in his accounting office.  

But I vividly remember when I first read that the U.K. Parliament had expressly changed the rule, after almost three hundred years, that a Defendant’s silence could not be used against him in a criminal trial, to allow Crown Prosecutors and Judges to argue and instruct juries that silence was confession.  I don’t know whether this particular procedure was used against Jeremy Forrest or not, although he did not take the stand on his own behalf.  The Lewes, East Sussex, Court also appears to have convicted Forrest of crimes of which he was not expressly or initially charged in the indictment.  That seems to be the origin of the now repeated PAEDOPHILE label attached to Forrest in the Media (either that or the Media is complicit in the smear campaign, but given English libel laws I suspect it is the courts who have done this.).

So in essence, my analysis of the Civil Rights Violations against Megan Stammers and Jeremy Forrest, which I begin today with a mere outline list, is going to be an American, U.S.-based list rather than a genuine U.K. legal analysis.  If anyone in the U.K. reads this, I’d be pleased to know how applicable, if at all, they thing my analysis might be.   My analysis will focus and rely primarily on Megan’s First and Fourth Amendment rights to privacy, freedom of expression, and freedom of association, Jeremy’s Fifth Amendment due process rights to be free from prosecutions under statutes which are void for vagueness as applied to him, and Jeremy’s right to a true common law jury trial.

My initial list of U.S. Constitutional and Civil Rights Violations implicated by the Forrest-Stammers case is as follows:

(1)      Invasion of Megan Stammers’ privacy—even a minor has the right to privacy, and Megan Stammers obviously valued hers.  The initial investigation was “all about Megan’s conduct” even though Jeremy was the only possible legal target (until yesterday when they started floating the possibility of some sort of “witness tampering” or “corruption of justice” charge against the girl for her highly supportive testimony in favor of Forrest (see latest article below, she still loves him–what a shock—a teenage girl loyal to her convicted PAEDOPHILE lover—I’ll bet that whole notion upsets their apple cart a little bit in the Crown Prosecutor’s Office).

(2)         Infringement of Megan Stammers’ right to freedom of expression and to chose her associates.  Whether she was smart or stupid, I see not one iota of evidence to support the PAEDOPHILE (I use the capitalization that the Mirror and Telegraph seem to be regularly using now) charge or idea that Jeremy Forrest “groomed” or manipulated or coerced the 14-15 year old girl in any way that took advantage of his status, her age, or any special vulnerability such as a mental disorder or psychological problem (other than mere loneliness and lack of interest in boys of her own age).  I should mention that I do totally believe in and support the death penalty for genuine forcible rapists, including men who take advantage of mentally retarded women.   (By this standard, of course, about half of the Red Army that invaded Germany in 1945 should have been executed but that it is a totally separate issue and topic.)  But there’s just NONE OF THAT KIND OF EVIDENCE here.  There’s not even any suggestion that Megan engaged in underage drinking, took psychoactive medication, or used illicit drugs with Jeremy, at least so far as I’ve seen.   It sounds like they were just two people engaged in raunchy sex, and one of them happened to be a married teacher and the other was under 16.  Neither have any place in a Sunday school lesson on “living right.

(3)     Unconstitutional construction of the charge of “child abduction” to the case of Stammers and Forrest—while valid “on its face”, this charge becomes utterly meaningless and really and truly “void for vagueness” when applied to the facts of this case.  If intelligent consent is no defense to abduction then the concept entirely loses its meaning as a legal offense.  Strict liability for a crime of passion is basically a contradiction in terms, from the logical layman’s standpoint, but even from the legal sophisticate’s jaded viewpoint, Megan Stammers’ well-articulated love and defense of Jeremy Forrest should have had a MAJOR impact on sentencing.  Even if the law were completely constitutional, I would have argued for a sentence on the order of a fine or misdemeanor jail term (under 1 year—with credit for time served, Jeremy should now be free).

(4)      Likewise the charge of statutory rape, “PAEDOPHILIA”, and sex with a minor against Jeremy Forrest for being with Megan Stammers just smacks of the teachings of a lunatic asylum school of law that ONLY Socialist Statists could love.   “Age of Consent” is way out of touch with the modern cultural realities of the hypersexualised-media-shaped culture.  You simply cannot drown an entire population in sexual images, styles, icons, putting the trashiest of whores like Kim Kardashian on every news rack in every grocery store, chemist’s/pharmacy,  (and turning such cash-hungry sluts into cultural icons, no less, to the point of giving ordinary street-walkers a bad name because they are literally “too cheap”) and expect people NOT to feel inspire to have sex with absolutely anyone and that their right to do so is slightly more fundamental than their right to breathe.

(4A)—Hypersexualization of culture is part of the “Brave New World”; I don’t happen to like it at all; but to deny it is insane.  Aldous Huxley correctly envisioned this in his brilliantly prophetic 1931 work of that name.  The Socialist State wants teens and adults to be sexual satiated so that they don’t think so that they are “sexually intoxicated” and as a consequence can’t think too much or get very angry about the general oppression and corruption of their government.   The Socialist State also, however, wants to retain and enforce arbitrary and capricious laws so that they can randomly trap people and make everyone feel very humbly compliant with every stupid regulation.  As a consequence, I have noticed in cases from both the U.S., the U.K., and Canada, that the prosecutors’ willingness (anxiousness) to use and apply statutes in a manner which can only be called so arbitrary and capricious as to be void for vagueness, and the willingness of the courts to allow such prosecutions and convictions to continue (with the conventional Defense Bar hardly ever daring to raise a constitutional objection to anything anymore), have all become EPIDEMIC.

(5)    Denial of Jeremy Stammers’ right to a fully-informed Jury.   This is a VERY controversial point, but if EVER a case cried out for Jury nullification, it is this one.  As I have repeatedly stated during the past week, Jeremy Stammers, like Ralph Rackstraw in HMS Pinafore, should have been fully entitled to the defense “For he is an Englishman.”  To fall in love with an attractive and (physically and emotionally, if not chronologically) mature girl and to be with her is every Englishman’s right.  It is part of the traditional culture of the Anglo-American world and, sorry to tell you, but if every man who had sex with a 14-15 year old girl were to be wiped from English history—the history of the Island of Great Britain would probably be about one quarter its current length.  It is also relevant that the synchronous Stuart Hall trial raised much more valid issues of actual consent and rape without the passionate defenses of devotion, and with a lot of women, too, but the sentence was nugatory by comparison.  And as cited on these very pages, British women, female barristers in fact, have endorsed lowering the age of consent to 13 in the U.K., in recognition of cultural reality.  It is this cultural reality, above all, which the jury should have been allowed to consider, and to throw out the charges as inappropriate under the circumstances: to adjudge the laws void for vagueness as applied to Forrest, even if they are facially valid.  It should be noted that while the U.S. Constitution 6th Amendment secures the right to trial-by-jury in criminal cases, it is the application of the 7th Amendment right to have all common law issues decided by a jury which secures the right of CRIMINAL defendants to jury review of the underlying law under which criminal violations are alleged and prosecuted.

(6)    The line between Civil and Criminal infractions and offenses has been blurred.  I do not ignore the fact that Jeremy Forrest was morally deficient and spiritually deponent—he had a wife whom he left behind who is all but ignored in these proceedings.   His poor wife, like Forrest’s school, and perhaps Megan’s parents, had and may still have legitimate CIVIL claims against him.   It may be objected that a Maths teacher at a marginal girls’ school probably has no money with which to pay any civil damages.  But whether that is true or not, the equities of the situation are that Jeremy could should have been tried for reckless and irresponsible dereliction of duty as a teacher, reckless and irresponsible disregard for the feelings of Megan’s parents (and he might have beaten the WHOLE abduction rap if he had met with them even once and they had approved, or tolerated, however grudgingly, his association with their daughter, which I’m sure their daughter could have convinced or coerced them to give), and of course his wife has among the most devastating of divorce charges against him.  He’s not rich—that’a problem for all civil claimants—but to insist on criminal prosecution rather than civil suit because of a man’s financial status?  Well, that would be imply that his financial “status” is a crime in itself, and that would be very embarrassing, I think, to the IngSoc State of Oceania (I mean the Socialist State of the United Kingdom).    CIVIL RIGHTS ANALYSIS TO BE CONTINUED ON THESE PAGES AFTER A BIT MORE HARD RESEARCH.

(7)    Even though I know about Parliament having modified the “right to silence” part of the English Bill of Rights which eventually became part of the U.S. Fifth Amendment, I think that this is a major violation of fundamental rights which are traditionally English and Jeremy should have had an instruction on no presumption of guilt for failure to take the witness stand.

I still love jailed teacher – girl

Press AssociationPress Association – 5 hours ago

  • Teacher Jeremy Forrest was found guilty of child abduction following an eight-day trialView PhotoTeacher Jeremy Forrest was found guilty of child abduction following an eight-day …

The schoolgirl abducted by paedophile teacher Jeremy Forrest told how she still loves him and said she had been old enough to make decisions for herself.

Forrest, 30, was jailed for five and a half years for child abduction and five charges of sexual activity with a child.

The girl apologised for fleeing with him to France when she was 15, but said her feelings towards Forrest had not changed.

She told The Sun: “I would like to make it clear that despite the outcome of the trial, my feelings towards Jeremy remain the same, and regardless of unfair and inaccurate speculation, those feelings will not change.

“I am very sorry to those who have been profoundly affected by the things that I have instigated and the consequences of my actions.”

The girl thanked her friends and family for their support and for respecting “the decisions that I have made throughout this process, of which they know I was fully capable of making”.

During the eight-day trial at Lewes Crown Court the jury was told that Forrest groomed the schoolgirl into having sex with him before taking her to France as he attempted to avoid being caught.

The girl’s mother told the court “the (daughter) I knew is dead and it upsets me beyond words”.

In a statement she said: “I feel completely useless most of the time. I feel like I have failed as a parent as I cannot understand how someone could do this to my child and I had no idea.”

She continued: “I feel like the worst mother in the world, whatever anyone else says it doesn’t matter. Someone has got my child and I never saw it coming and never saw it as it was happening. I feel like part of (her) childhood has been robbed from me – the last day at school, dressing her up in a party dress for the school prom, all taken from us.”

Maybe next year, if the dollar goes into tripled-digit hyperinflation (e.g. like Zimbabwe today, Argentina in the 1980s, Germany in the 1920s, they’ll make Obama the first man in history to receive two Nobel Prizes in consecutive years by giving him the Nobel Prize in Economics….

It does seem strangely bizarre that Obama’s own supporters on the Democratic left (such as Salon.com’s editor in chief Joan Walsh) are struggling to defend Obama’s receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize while apologizing “even as we acknowledge disappointment with Obama on State Secrets, Torture, Iraq, and Afghanistan” (you know, minor issues relating to world peace like those which constitute, well….just about everything he’s touched in the past nine months, see http://www.salon.com/opinion/walsh// for October 10, 2009), the rest of the Country is reeling from the sensation that this is all just a really bad joke, including my favorite commentator on civil rights and civil liberties, the author of How would a Patriot Act?.  The key quote from the article below is, in my opinion:

[Obama has] worked tirelessly to protect his country not only from accountability — but also transparency — for the last eight years of war crimes, almost certainly violating America’s treaty obligations in the process.  And he is currently presiding over an expansion of the legal black hole at Bagram while aggressively demanding the right to abduct people from around the world, ship them there, and then imprison them indefinitely with no rights of any kind.

All put together it makes me want to cry for my beloved but hopelessly insecure homeland, the United States of America, home of the zombie-like sleepwalkers and cowards who are letting this all happen (i.e., what seems like at least 75% of the population and maybe more)!  But seriously, what Obama is doing on the foreign front to protect the Bush legacy is nowhere nearly as sinister and corrupt as what he’s doing at home—pushing his domestic socialist agenda in cooperation with the corporate-financial giants, i.e. the international Banks, such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase just to name the top-three leading culprits, whose disregard for the fundamental elements of common law contract and property law is rapidly turning this country into a nation of homeless vagabonds….one foreclosure at a time, 70 foreclosures per morning and afternoon per session per county court, all across the United States, from sea to shining sea!

Glenn Greenwald

FRIDAY OCT. 9, 2009 07:10 EDT

(updated below – Update II)

When I saw this morning’s top New York Times headline — “Barack Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize” — I had the same immediate reaction which I’m certain many others had:  this was some kind of bizarre Onion gag that got accidentally transposed onto the wrong website, that it was just some sort of strange joke someone was playing.  Upon further reflection, that isn’t all that far from the reaction I still have.  And I say that despite my belief that — as critical as I’ve been of the Obama presidency regarding civil liberties and Terrorism — foreign affairs is actually one area where he’s shown genuine potential for some constructive “change” and has, on occasion, merited real praise for taking steps in the general “peace” direction which this Prize is meant to honor.

Obama has changed the tone America uses to speak to the world generally and the Muslim world specifically.  His speech in Cairo, his first-week interview on al-Arabiya, and the extraordinarily conciliatory holiday video he sent to Iran are all substantial illustrations of that.  His willingness to sit down and negotiate with Iran — rather than threaten and berate them — has already produced tangible results.  He has at least preliminarily broken from Bush’s full-scale subservience to Israel and has applied steadfast pressure on the Israelis to cease settlement activities, even though it’s subjected him to the sorts of domestic political risks and vicious smears that have made prior Presidents afraid to do so.  His decision to use his first full day in office to issue Executive Orders to close Guantanamo, ostensibly ban torture, and bar CIA black sites was an important symbol offered to the world (even though it’s been followed by actions that make those commitments little more than empty symbols).  He refused to reflexively support the right-wing, civil-liberty-crushing coup leaders in Honduras merely because they were “pro-American” and “anti-Chavez,” thus siding with the vast bulk of Latin America’s governments — a move George Bush, or John McCain, never would have made.  And as a result of all of that, the U.S. — in a worldwide survey released just this week — rose from seventh to first on the list of “most admired countries.”

All that said, these changes are completely preliminary, which is to be expected given that he’s only been in office nine months.  For that reason, while Obama’s popularity has surged in Western Europe, the changes in the Muslim world in terms of how the U.S. is perceived have been small to nonexistent.  As Der Spiegel put it in the wake of a worldwide survey in July:  “while Europe’s ardor for Obama appears fervent, he has actually made little progress in the regions where the US faces its biggest foreign policy problems.”  People who live in regions that have long been devastated by American weaponry don’t have the luxury of being dazzled by pretty words and speeches.  They apparently — and rationally — won’t believe that America will actually change from a war-making nation into a peace-making one until there are tangible signs that this is happening.  It’s because that has so plainly not yet occurred that the Nobel Committee has made a mockery out of their own award.

But far more important than the lack of actual accomplishments are some of the policies over which Obama has presided that are the very opposite of peace.  Already this year, he not only escalated the American war in Afghanistan, but has ordered air raids that have produced things like this:

That was from a May airstrike in which over 100 Afghan civilians were killed by American jets — one of many similar incidents this year, including one only a week ago that killed 9 Afghan civilians.  How can someone responsible for that, and who has only escalated that war, possibly be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in the very same year that he did that?  Does that picture above look like the work of a Nobel Peace laureate?  Does this, from the May airstrike?

Beyond Afghanistan, Obama continues to preside over another war — in Iraq:  remember that? — where no meaningful withdrawal has occurred.  He uttered not a peep of opposition to the Israeli massacre of Gazan civilians at the beginning of this year (using American weapons), one which a U.N. investigator just found constituted war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.  The changed tone to Iran notwithstanding, his administration frequently emphasizes that it is preserving the option to bomb that country, too — which could be a third war against a Muslim country fought simultaneously under his watch.  He’s worked tirelessly to protect his country not only from accountability — but also transparency — for the last eight years of war crimes, almost certainly violating America’s treaty obligations in the process.  And he is currently presiding over an expansion of the legal black hole at Bagram while aggressively demanding the right to abduct people from around the world, ship them there, and then imprison them indefinitely with no rights of any kind.

It’s certainly true that Obama inherited, not started, these conflicts.  And it’s possible that he could bring about their end, along with an overall change in how America interacts with the world in terms of actions, not just words.  If he does that, he would deserve immense credit — perhaps even a Nobel Peace Prize.  But he hasn’t done any of that.  And it’s at least as possible that he’ll do the opposite:  that he’ll continue to escalate the 8-year occupation of Afghanistan, preside over more conflict in Iraq, end up in a dangerous confrontation with Iran, and continue to preserve many of the core Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies that created such a stain on America’s image and character around the world.

Through no fault of his own, Obama presides over a massive war-making state that spends on its military close to what the rest of the world spends combined.  The U.S. accounts for almost 70% of worldwide arms sales.  We’re currently occupying and waging wars in two separate Muslim countries and making clear we reserve the “right” to attack a third.  Someone who made meaningful changes to those realities would truly be a man of peace.  It’s unreasonable to expect that Obama would magically transform all of this in nine months, and he certainly hasn’t.  Instead, he presides over it and is continuing much of it.  One can reasonably debate how much blame he merits for all of that, but there are simply no meaningful “peace” accomplishment in his record — at least not yet — and there’s plenty of the opposite.  That’s what makes this Prize so painfully and self-evidently ludicrous.

UPDATE:  Remember how, during the Bush years, the GOP would disgustingly try to equate liberals with Terrorists by pointing out that they happened to have the same view on a particular matter (The Left opposes the war in Iraq, just like Al Qaeda and Hezbollah do! or bin Laden’s criticisms of Bush sound just like Michael Moore’s! ).  It looks like the Democratic Party haslearned and adopted that tactic perfectly (“‘The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists – the Taliban and Hamas this morning – in criticizing the President for receiving the Nobel Peace prize,’ DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse told POLITICO”; Republicans are “put[ting] politics above patriotism,” he added).

Apparently, according to the DNC, if you criticize this Prize, then you’re an unpatriotic America-hater — just like the Terrorists, because they’re also criticizing the award.  Karl Rove should be proud.  Maybe the DNC should also send out Joe Lieberman’s 2005 warning that “in matters of war we undermine Presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.”  Hamas also thinks that Israeli settlements should be frozen — a position Obama shares.  So, by the DNC’s Rovian reasoning, doesn’t this mean that Obama “has thrown in his lot with the terrorists”?

UPDATE II:  On Democracy Now, Naomi Klein calls Obama’s award “disappointing, cheapening of the Nobel Prize,” and adds:  “I think it’s quite insulting. I don’t know what kind of political game they’re playing, but I don’t think that the committee has ever been as political as this or as delusional as this, frankly.”  On Daily Kos, Michael Moore writes ironically:  “Congratulations President Obama on the Nobel Peace Prize — Now Please Earn it!”  Mairead Maguire, the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, says she’s “very disappointed” with this award, noting:  “President Obama has yet to prove that he will move seriously on the Middle East, that he will end the war in Afghanistan and many other issues.”   And my Salon colleague, Alex Koppelman, adds several thoughts about the efforts by the DNC and some Democratic groups to explicitly equate opposition to the Prize with “casting one’s lot with terrorists.”