Between 2005 and 2007, the US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales dismissed or reviewed for dismissal more than 26 US Attorneys. To many observers, including me, these firings appeared motivated by desire to install attorneys more loyal to the Republican party or as retribution for actions out of step with the party. Gonzales’s actions had the appearance of making supposedly non-political justice branch of government into simply another tool of party politics.
Gonzales was called before the senate judiciary committee, and questioned on his motivations for these dismissals. And this is where government retains it’s legitimacy, by demonstrating accountability to the public. The public whose informed choice is the basis for governance in a democratic system. Except that’s not what happened. Alberto Gonzales stonewalled the senate judiciary committee, repeating variations of the phrase “I don’t recall” hundreds of times, and thereby, flatly refusing to answer any question except with theatrical amnesia. It was an amazing performance. He didn’t stutter, he didn’t sweat, he was never flustered. As he was grilled for weeks by the chair of the senate judiciary committee, Arlin Spectre, Gonzales just smirked and repeated “I don’t recall”.
I watched the C-span coverage of these hearings as they proceeded, and they impressed on me a terrible realization. There is no accountability. Then-president G.W. Bush had been pursuing war in Afghanistan and Iraq with an obviously fraudulent mandate. He’d seemed to win his re-election by fraud as well. He’d also succeeded in trashing more of the american bill of rights than any president before him, all while the mainstream sold their criticism of his administration as one coloured by incompetence. Bush appeared to get more done in service of the agenda of his corporate and financial masters than any president in my lifetime. Until the guy who came after him, obviously.
In 2007 I was struck by the fact that the head of the justice branch of government was, rather than a man of law, simply a policy operative of the executive branch of war-president George’s government. In fact, he was an untouchable, openly corrupt, smug, unruffled, and apparently taking his fashion sense from Martin Scorsese mobster films.
But in a culture where the highest and the final apparatus of redress of grievance is totally, openly and flagrantly corrupt – where is any pathway of justice? What is the mechanism for a citizen in such a system for redress of crime by the powerful?
The simple answer is that, in such a system there is no legitimate path for justice. This is not a problem for the reason that the everyday citizen will be victimized by the powerful. This is a problem because societies adapt, and redress of grievance will find a pathway with or without a legitimate apparatus of justice.
Realizing this in 2007, I speculated on the possible realization of Thomas Jefferson’s apocryphal advice on tree husbandry. Elected representatives dragged by citizens from their offices and executed on the front lawns of legislatures is a future I will do almost anything to prevent. But, I see it coming.
In 2011, a man named Thomas James Ball was so brutalized by the corruption of the family court in New Hampshire that in a final desperate act of protest, he went to the steps of the courthouse, doused himself in gasoline and set himself on fire. It took him several minutes to die.
And besides a few marginal voices on the far fringes, nobody even noticed. BusinessInsider was one of the few places covering Ball’s protest which took the form of death by fire.
“Late last week [June 2011], Thomas James Ball reached his breaking point. Driven to desperation by a system that bankrupted him and destroyed his family, Ball walked up to the main door of the Keene County, New Hampshire courthouse, doused himself with gasoline, and lit himself ablaze.
Hardly anyone seems to have noticed.”
But Thomas James Ball didn’t just burn himself to death in a public protest of the court’s corruption. He also wrote a detailed account of his reasons and his grievances. The mainstream media, those few who even bothered to cover an American self immolating in protest of the corrupt court system – dismissed his public letter with the words “rambling and incoherent”. You can read it yourself, and judge whether Mr Ball’s final statement is coherent or not. But when Paul Elam and I decided to re-publish Thomas James Ball’s final letter to the world, we also decided to omit the specific instructions he included of the manufacture of gasoline bombs, and the use of those devices to burn court houses and other government buildings to the ground.
What Ball called for in 2011 what what I saw coming in 2007. But he didn’t follow his own call to action, instead, turning his grief and frustration inward onto himself rather than outwards onto the irretrievably corrupt apparatus of his local family court.
But the scant, dismissive coverage Ball received in the mainstream was itself an anomaly. Setting aside his death in the most desperate and earnest act of protest a human can undertake – Thomas Ball’s story of abuse by a corrupt system was not unique. It was common. So common that the story of “father chewed up, family destroyed, children abused by the corrupt courts” is almost a constant background noise in our culture’s ongoing narrative. How many more men have done exactly what Mr Ball did. That is to say, how many more each year have doused themselves in gasoline and died in self-ignited fires in protest of corrupt courts and family courts. It’s more than just Thomas Ball.
In 2007, I speculated that there might be no correction without justice finding a path in the form of public, impromptu executions, or redress of grievance through violent direct action. And I still see it coming. Incidentally, anybody who cites this article as an advocation of such a violent outcome I will now pre-emptively address as a Depraved and Futile, lying idiot-fuck.
The mainstream media is obviously apathetic and complicit. “Journalists” care more about retaining the favour of those who provide them access than anything as obsolete as journalism. For the corrupt and powerful there is no accountability. But this has to change, because the natural consequence of this is worse and more dystopian than anybody is prepared for.
For the corrupt and powerful who prey on the everyday citizen, there is no accountability. But prior to October of 2012, no district attorney or assistant district attorney had ever been recommended for disbarment by a board of overseers of the bar. Enter Bar Harbour Maine’s assistant district attorney Mary Kellet.
In October last year she was found by a the state of Maine’s board of overseers of the bar to be guilty of prosecutorial misconduct. Among the violations were engaging in conduct unworthy of an attorney, suppressing exculpatory evidence, tampering with witnesses. In its decision, the Bar Panel cited Assistant DA Kellett’s failure to turn over at “least two key pieces of exculpatory evidence” which were “critical” to a defendant’s case, rampant discovery violations, and efforts to mislead and deceive the jury about facts and evidence. The seriousness of Kellett’s misconduct, the Panel of the overseers of the Main Bar wrote, “cannot be overstated”. The panel also recommended that Kellett’s licence to practice law be suspended.
But since then, Mary Kellet has faced no consequence, she retains her licence to practice law, she is still the assistant district attorney, and her colleagues and superiors are doing a sterling job of circling their wagons to protect her, and themselves from any accountability or additional public oversight.
Last week, with just over a week of notice, the date and location of a hearing was announced where it is rumoured that assistant District attorney Mary Kellett will be making a plea deal. She’ll be keeping her law licence, keeping her job, and going back to business as usual, prosecuting the innocent for her own satisfaction and for her office’s profit. And it will all likely pass quietly, without the attention of any media, in less than a week.
Now, to be fair, following the public call for citizen-journalism from AVfM, one or two private individuals might attend, and report on it through this site. If they can be bothered to. And when the next family is demolished by an out of control, no-brakes, no accountability court system driven by money and ideology, maybe it will be you, or somebody you love in the grinder.
You can go back to sleep now. Thank you for your kind attention.
Editor’s note: Hearing schedule here.–DE