In court papers filed Monday, the Mongols Motorcycle Club demanded the return of personal property seized by “law enforcement officials throughout the United States…belonging to the club’s members and other third parties who have not been indicted solely because that property bears the Mongols trademark.”
The club filed a 31 page supplemental brief, a proposed order, and sworn declarations in support of the brief from unindicted Mongols patch holders Martin Guevara, Tom Hardin, Michael Ramos, and Kevin Thomas. Guevara, Hardin, Ramos and Thomas have all had personal property seized by police.
The brief and motion were written by the Mongols’ current advocate in this matter, attorney John W. MacPete of the firm Locke, Lord, Bissell and Liddell in Dallas, Texas.
The documents were filed in response to an order issued by Judge Florence-Marie Cooper on July 31 that declared that the Mongols trademarks, including the Mongols patch, were not forfeitable under federal racketeering statutes. The ruling resulted from a complaint by a Mongols member named Ramon Rivera who had had his personal property seized.
In that order, Judge Cooper ruled that neither former Mongols President Ruben “Doc” Cavazos nor any other individual owns a “forfeitable interest” in the Mongols trademarks. She also ruled that the club’s patch and the name “Mongols” are both “collective membership marks” and as such they are a protected form of expression like the Republican elephant, the Democratic donkey, the Christian cross and the Stars and Stripes.
The brief filed Monday argues that, “The club itself has not been indicted, nor have any of the Club’s other members (which number in the hundreds.)
“In practice,” MacPete continues, “the government has been seizing personal property belonging to non-indicted members of the Club who do not have any familial relationship with the Defendants and have not acted in active concert or participation with the Defendants in connection with the criminal charges against them.
“The seized property includes vests, t-shirts, posters, a motorcycle, coffee mugs, mouse pad, stickers, magnets, bandanas and CDs. The seizure of this property has had a chilling effect on the members’ freedom of speech and association rights.”
The proposed order would require that: “None of the non-indicted members of the Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club, Inc., or any other third party (other than the immediate family members of the defendants), shall be subject to having their property seized pursuant to this order. Any property previously seized from the non-indicted members of the Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club, Inc., or any other third party (other than the immediate family members of the defendants), shall be returned to such persons
within twenty (20) days of this order.”
Government Begs For Time
Judge Cooper’s ruling on Ramon Rivera’s complaint has obviously flummoxed the prosecution. Tuesday, the government asked Judge Cooper for extra time to prepare a reply to MacPete’s brief.
“This application (for more time) is made on the grounds that the Assistant United States Attorney assigned primary responsibility for this matter is currently out of the office on sick leave,” the motion explained. That attorney, Steven R. Welk, explained in an attachment that his personal physician has instructed him that he absolutely must stay home and rest.
Additionally. Welk needs more time because he is “preparing for a trial scheduled to begin on September 1, 2009, in a case in which the trial date is firm and there is no possibility of settlement.”
And, besides having a more important trial for which to prepare, Welk told the judge that he “has a professional obligation” to teach at a conference being conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration that will require him to “be out of town on August 24 and 25, 2009” in pleasant and picturesque “Santa Barbara.” He did not specify a title for that conference or where in Santa Barbara it might be held.
The Drug Enforcement Administration is, in fact, sponsoring a conference in Las Vegas on those dates. Possibly Welk meant to say Las Vegas but because he is so ill he wrote Santa Barbara by mistake. Or, maybe instead of “teach at a conference” he meant to write “get drunk at a winery.”
Counsel for the Mongols is opposed to giving the prosecution more time. It has now been ten months since the indictment against Cavazos and Others was unsealed.