Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Political Prosecution in Wisconsin?

The things one finds on Usenet newsgroups! Those dinosaurs of the information age sometimes reveal nuggets of useful and interesting information, sticking up like bones in the LaBrea Tar Pits.

My most recent discovery came on alt.politics.libertarian, where there were two postings about the news that theft charges against a Dane County libertarian activist were dropped.

This may not seem newsworthy to most. The amount of the alleged theft was only $50. But the person arrested was, at the time, spearheading a recall campaign against Wisconsin's Democratic governor. Dane County is well-known as a Democratic stronghold. (It includes the state capital, Madison, and the University of Wisconsin's principal campus.) The arrest was a transparent effort to silence a political dissident. This should come as no surprise. Despite its Progressive traditions, Wisconsin is the home of Senator Russ Feingold, whose name appears on legislation he sponsored (though he probably did not read it), which is designed to suppress political speech.

Here's what was reported in The Capital Times, a Madison daily:

A theft charge against Libertarian Party leader Rolf Lindgren of Middleton were dropped today, but Lindgren remains unhappy about the prosecution of the case.

Lindgren was charged with stealing an apron, apparently with tips from a waiter in it, from the Irish Waters bar and restaurant in November 2003.

The case was scheduled for jury selection today and trial on Wednesday, but Assistant District Attorney Jay Mimier moved to dismiss the case at the last moment, a move that did not placate Lindgren.

After Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan ordered the case dismissed, Lindgren spoke up and said: "The prosecutor in this case has known since the beginning of this case that I didn't commit this crime. I'd like you to ask the prosecutor when he realized that I didn't commit this crime."

Lindgren also insisted that the government pay his legal fees, which had added up to thousands of dollars over the past year and a half.

A news release issued on Lindgren's behalf through the Libertarian Party of Dane County reveals why this was a political prosecution:
Loan Officer Rolf Lindgren won his criminal case today in Dane County court. This morning, just before jury selection was to begin, Prosecutor Jay Mimier asked to dismiss the charge against Lindgren. Lindgren had been charged with stealing $50 from the Irish Waters Restaurant/Tavern in November, 2003.

The Lindgren team and the state have a video of a different person stealing the $50.

* * *

The case began on November 26, 2003, with the false-arrest of Rolf Lindgren, who was subjected to a brutal, two-hour interrogation. Just two days earlier, on November 24, 2003, Lindgren had filed papers with the State Elections Board regarding the Recall of Governor Jim Doyle. Because of the arrest, the Doyle Recall did not move forward.

The arrest occurred the night before Rolf Lindgren's scheduled on-camera interview for the documentary movie 'A Remarkable Man', a movie about the life of Ed Thompson. Because of the arrest, the movie interview was postponed.

The arresting officer, Craig Knutson, had approached Rolf Lindgren earlier in the year, in February, 2003, at the Harbor Athletic Club in Middleton. Knutson asked Lindgren dozens of questions about what the Libertarian Party believed in. The person who claimed to be a victim in the case, former Irish Waters waitress Vanessa Wheaton, waited on customer Lindgren in October, 2003. Lindgren was wearing a RecallDoyle.com T-shirt that evening. Lindgren testified under oath regarding the case in October, 2004. No state witness has testified under oath.

At the hearing this morning, Rolf Lindgren asked Judge Flanagan for the state to pay Lindgren's legal fees which are now several thousand dollars. The state has known since day-one that Lindgren did not commit this crime. The state intentionally ran up Lindgren's legal fees during the past 17 months.

Judge Flanagan denied Lindgren's request without giving a reason. Judge Flanagan said it was "unusual" for a defendant to speak to him directly in court. A potential false-arrest lawsuit is under consideration.

We like to believe the myth that this sort of thing only happens in banana republics. This isn't Kyrgyzstan, after all, it's the United States -- it's Wisconsin, home of Fighting Bob LaFollette!

If Wisconsin political activists are not safe from government harassment and threats against their lives and liberties, neither are political activists in Virginia, Wyoming, or Arkansas. Stories like this are simple reminders of how we must remain vigilant against abuses of government power everywhere and always.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

TRIAL OF ROLF LINDGREN

your tax dollars at work

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 8:30 A.M., Madison City County Building, Judge Flanagan

I was accused of stealing $50 back in 2003. I have a video tape of someone else stealing the $50, so I have a good case.

They have been trying to get me to plea bargain. Legal fees now above $10,000. I demand a trial.

Please attend. I appreciate your moral support. Learn about our court system.

Rolf 608-279-5889 www.RolfLindgren.com

PS - I apologize for not being as active with the Libertarian Party during the past year. RL

Other trials:

The War upon Galileo
http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/White/astronomy/war.html

Galileo said...

TRIAL OF ROLF LINDGREN - RESULTS

[warning - this email contains some profanity]

My trial was scheduled to begin in Madison on February 28. I was accused of stealing $50 at the Irish Waters in 2003. Since I have photos of someone else stealing the $50, I expected to win. The photos are still photos from a CD turned over to me during the discovery process.

When I got to the courthouse, I found that 15 jury trials were scheduled at 8:30 a.m. in front of Judge Flanagan. My case was the oldest and deserved priority. Judge Flanagan, however, had the trial rescheduled without explanation; to July 18.

I asked prosecuting attorney Jay Mimier, why the State was continually delaying my trial. In the hallway outside the courtroom, in the presence of many people, Mimier yelled at me; "Horseshit!"

Then I was called into a conference room. Mimier tried to scare me into another plea bargain. I showed Mimier photos of the person who stole the $50. I said; "How many times have I told you I will not plea bargain. I demand a trial."

After I left the City-County Building, I examined the photos of the person who stole the $50 more closely.

I compared a still frame from 48 minutes, 5 seconds, to a still frame from 48 minutes, 6 seconds. Between frames, the guy takes one step towards the camera. I compared the size of the head to the width of his jacket.

The head, from the chin to the top of the head, in the 5-second frame measures 16/32 inch.

The head, from the chin to the top of the head, in the 6-second frame measures 21/32 inch.

The length of the head increases by 31%. You can see the difference with the naked eye.

The width of the jacket collar, from point-to-point, in the 5-second frame measures 9/8 inch.

The width of the jacket collar, from point-to-point, in the 6-second frame measures 10/8 inch.

The width of the jacket increases by 11%. Hmmm.

The body and clothing of the guy in the 6-second frame compared to the guy in the 5-second frame, look exactly the same.

The face of the guy in the 6-second frame compared to the face of the guy in the 5-second frame, look different.

Tests will be conducted to determine how this could happen on a digital CD, created by the Irish Waters and provided to police for the prosecution of Rolf Lindgren.

Photos provided for viewing upon request.

Sincerely,

Rolf Lindgren 608-279-5889 608-824-0660 (fax) Rolf@RolfLindgren.com

www.RolfLindgren.com www.CaucusScandal.com www.RecallDoyle.com

Appendix A:

Amendment VI of the U.S. Constitution

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Appendix B:

Synopsis of Case

On October 28, 2003, my friend Mark and I went to the Irish Waters to watch a San Antonio Spurs game. I brought www.RecallDoyle.com T-Shirts, bumper stickers and news clippings.

On November 26, 2003, I went back to the Irish Waters to invite an acquaintance to a Libertarian meeting. Five minutes later, three police officers came into the Irish Waters, surrounded me, and said they had a video of me stealing $50. I was subjected to a brutal, 2-hour psychological interrogation. The police lied. They do not have a video of me stealing $50. I testified under oath on October, 2004, regarding this incident. If anyone reading this knows anyone who can provide me legal assistance in pursuing legal actions against the guilty parties, please let me know.

Appendix C:

Text of email received by me on November 19, 2003

Subject: recall response

Dear asshole,
Do you fuckers really think you're going to steal another election? Fuck you. Fuck your mother. Fuck your children and any one else associated with your fucked up ideas. Suck my dick you jerk off. If I see one of of your assholes passing a recall petition, I'm going to kick him in the balls and rip up the petition. If you're looking for confrontation you're going to get it. This is not a threat, this is a promise.
Patrick McCormack
Milwaukee

Appendix D:

Link to Tim Kelley's November 16, 2003, Sunday Opinion column in the Wisconsin State Journal

Recall Doyle?: http://www.madison.com/archives/read.php?ref=wsj:2003:11:16:288295:OPINION

Anonymous said...

Other Recent 3rd Party Suppression Lead by Democrats in Wisconsin

From: http://votenader.org/ballot_access/wisconsin/

Ballot Access History

On the Ballot for Good
September 30, 2004 -The Supreme Court of Wisconsin unanimously ruled to put Nader/Camejo on the ballot Thursday putting an end to the Democrats' dirty tricks campaign against Nader/Camejo in Wisconsin. Thank you to attorney Robert Bernhoft who did an exceptional job on this case. Thanks to all the folks who made it out early in the morning to picket in front of the Capitol and come to the hearing.

###
posted by: Friends_of_Galileo

Anonymous said...

Are all Libertarians crazy? Does anyone really believe there is a conspiracy involving the Madison police department, the Governor's office, the County DA office?

This allegation makes no damn sense! Because charges were dropped, they say it must be a plot? Is that what passes for logic among Libertarians?

Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot. The judge is in on the conspiracy, too!

Brad Spangler said...

"Are all Libertarians crazy?" - Aninymous

Are all of you who like the idea of prosecuting an innocent man to gutless to sign your names?