the fourth amendment to our constitution - one of the venerable notions known as our 'bill of rights' - reads:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
i am sharing this story with all of you, because my attorney (bruce m. margolin) believes that we need to make people aware of this case. that we need to make people aware that some of our police officers - at least here in the mountains of southern california - are stepping on the constitution and doing harm to the people they are sworn to protect.
on that fateful morning, i was on the phone with mr. j (had been for at least 30 minutes) when there was a knock on my front door. upon answering i discovered a san bernardino county sheriff's deputy standing there. the following exchange ensued - please note that mr. j heard everything that i have written here and will act as my "ear witness" in court:
sbsd: we had a call from this residence to 911. is everything ok? (or words to that effect)
haj: i didn't call 911 and i am the only one home.
sbsd: was there anyone else here with you today?
haj: my son was here earlier but he left nearly an hour ago.
sbsd: why didn't you answer the phone with dispatch called back?
haj: aside from my husband calling, the phone has not rung this morning.
---- at this point the deputy radioed to dispatch to ask if they had called back and the dispatcher responded that she had called AND left a voicemail. it was also at this point that she revealed the supposed call to 911 was a hang-up. ----
sbsd: do you mind if i come in and look around?
haj: yes, i do mind. there is no need for you to come in; as i told you i am the only one home and there is no problem.
haj: not without a warrant.
sbsd: my supervisor is on his way. you will be arrested. this will not end well for you.
haj: can you tell me what law says my right against an unwarranted search is abdicated because you say that someone called 911 from my residence?
sbsd: i'm not certain there is an actual law, but under certain circumstances we are allowed to enter the premises without a warrant.
--- conversation continued in this vain for several minutes - me standing in my doorway in my stocking feet with one hand holding the phone up to my ear and the other hand on the open door. the deputy was all the while standing in front of my door with her boot wedged into the door so that i could not have closed it had i tried. several minutes into the conversation, her supervisor arrived. ---
sbsd #2: what is your f-ing problem?
haj: i don't have a problem, i merely want an answer to my question before i allow you to enter my house without a search warrant.
sbsd #2: what's your question?
haj: what law says my right guaranteed under the 4th amendment is forfeited the minute you say there was a hang-up call to 911 from my location?
sbsd #2: what?
haj: as i told the other deputy, i will be happy to step outside with you with the premises secured while we wait for a search warrant. or alternatively, tell me the law that is effective here, i'll look it up and if it checks out i'll gladly let you in without the warrant.
sbsd #2: not going to happen.
at this point i was essentially tackled by the two of them. i cannot tell you the exact manner in which it happened, but one minute i was standing at the door talking to two police officers and mr. j at the same time and the next minute i was on the floor of my entry way with a very large man sitting on my chest his knees pinning down my arms, screaming at me to put my hands behind my back. after several instances of me telling him "i can't move, let alone put my hands behind my back" he got off me, rolled me over and put handcuffs on me.
still essentially sitting on me, holding me down, he starts telling me that the police are always justified in entering a premises any time a 911 call is made because someone might be hurt and that the 4th amendment is always suspended in those cases. meanwhile several other deputies entered my house - and while the phone had been knocked out of my hand, the line was still open and mr. j heard all of this. the line was finally closed by one of the deputies as they were taking me out my front door.
at no time was i told that i was under arrest or what the charges were. until i asked the deputy when we got to the jail, my rights were never read to me.
there is more from the jail, but it's not actually applicable to my criminal case. although i did find it interesting that i was told by a deputy at the jail "it's time you people learn that you only have the rights we (i took that 'we' to mean 'the police') are willing to grant to you. all that came to my mind was "i don't think so!" all-in-all it was the most degrading and humiliating experience of my life thus far.
the same jailhouse deputy accused me of having "no respect for the rule of law or the authority of the police." i did respond to that one - i told her "i'm 45 years old. i'm pretty certain that if that were the case you would have seen me in here before now."
mr. margolin was the victorious attorney for timothy leary. yes, that timothy leary. and while my politics could not be further from his (although SURELY there will come a day when he realizes the dems are not on his side for his beliefs) he is one of the leading authorities in this country on defending the fourth amendment in criminal cases. criminal. me? it's a frightening fact that right now i am considered a criminal.
i will be formally arraigned on the 27th of this month. the court date will be set after that. we do not, yet, have a copy of the police report - the da has promised to hand it over at the arraignment. we do know that i have been charged with "resisting an executive officer".
i'm fighting this charge. it's going to be expensive, and i'm not altogether certain where i will get the funds, but i want this arrest off my record. i have never been arrested before (well once i was held for non-payment of a parking ticket from the st. louis airport from my ex-husband, but that was 21 years ago and when the ticket was paid, it went away) and i want this gone, too. especially since i did nothing more than question how my rights had been abdicated. according to my attorney, they had not been.
i want my life back, i want my record clean again, and i want people to know how some police treat american citizens. citizens. someday, maybe, i’ll tell you how i was treated in jail but right now i’m concentrating on fighting the charges from the arrest. and if you can help, i could really use it. please forgive my begging, but if there is any amount you could contribute - even the smallest amount would be greatly appreciated - to my defense fund please do... oh and share this story with your friends. this is an important issue and my lawyer wants this to get some attention. we have to fight this - we have to stop this assault on our constitution. please help if you can!