The New Jersey State Police were founded in 1921 by Colonel Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr., the father of the late war hero Stormin’ Norman. The senior Schwarzkopf was a conservative man who thought human rights should take a back seat to law and order. After rising to the rank of Brigadier in World War he worked for the Shah of Iran organizing and training the dreaded SAVAK – which is an acronym for a mouthful of unpronounceable Farsi that translates as the National Organization for Intelligence and Security.
SAVAK is the reason the religious loonies took over Iran. SAVAK epitomizes why the Middle East is now such a mess. SAVAK used specially trained “rapist dogs” in its “enhanced interrogations.” Fathers who did not respond to torture were forced to watch their children and wives raped by trained dogs day after day. SAVAK is one of many examples of what happens when the police are allowed to do whatever they think they need to do. And now, decades later, the New Jersey State Police are officially allowed to do whatever they think they need to do and a New Jersey Deputy Attorney General named Roshan D. Shah is keeping that old Schwarzkopf spirit alive in a civil rights lawsuit titled James Coles et al. v. Nicholas Carlini et al. You can read The Aging Rebel’s last story about this suit here.
Punishment By Traffic Stop
The suit was filed by three men named James Coles, Joseph Ballinger and Louis C. Degailler in November 2010. All three are now members of the Pagans. They and three other men including members of the Tribe Motorcycle Club were on their way to a charity fundraiser for a sick child when they were stopped by New Jersey State Police under the direction of State Trooper Nicholas Carlini. Much of the stop was recorded on a police dash camera. And, the stop was unmistakably intended to harass and intimidate the six men as a form of extra-judicial punishment because they belonged to motorcycle clubs – which technically, as a matter of fact, remains a Constitutionally protected right.
Cops play this cat and mouse game with bikers every day.
Chuck Schoville, the brainless buffoon who leads the International Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigator’s Association, made a frank admission to the National Geographic Channel about how and why cops harass members of motorcycle clubs a few years ago in a show about the corrupt undercover investigation to “get” the Hells Angels in Arizona. That investigation later became part of a mostly mythical adventure code-named Operation Black Biscuit. The criminal case that followed failed to prove anything about the Arizona Angels except that they are actually not that criminal. But Schoville bragged on television that the operation was successful because it punished club members even if they weren’t guilty of anything.
“Maybe the outcome wasn’t the desired outcome.” Schoville explained. “But there’s kinda two outcomes. There’s the outcome you read about in the newspaper and that is the prison sentences and some of the dismissals. But, there was also the outcome that you see on the streets. We got Hells Angels that all of a sudden decide, ‘You know that’s not the lifestyle for me and they’re leavin’ the club. It feels like a game of cat and mouse.”
Lying, Bullying Cops
Most cops do not now, and may never have, seen themselves as agents of the law. Cops see themselves as good guys who are empowered to “get bad guys” by any means necessary. Cops decide who is good and who is bad by relying on their “experience and training,” as they usually say in court, and the smirking fool Schoville is one of their many trainers. In general, most people who experience street justice understand why so many police victims see cops as lying bullies.
Lying, bullying police are much more of a threat to the Republic than distant and largely imaginary terrorists. Their insults range from petty to grievous and their victims include suburban mommies who make rolling stops, disgruntled veterans, executive trainees who surf the net for porn, black and Latin teenagers, dissenters representing all the wavelengths of the American political spectrum and, of course, motorcycle outlaws. Police are the enforcers of social control which is the opposite of freedom which has always been the secret of America’s invincibility. The more lying, bullying police assert their authority the weaker America becomes.
Most victims of police bullying are shamed into silent acquiescence. The three Pagans fought back in federal court. The state of New Jersey has more than four hundred attorneys to fight the lawsuit. An Assistant Attorney General named Roshan D. Shah is the tip of that spear. The three Pagans are represented by a guy named Boyd Spencer.
The case overflows with motions and thousands and thousands of words. If it ever goes to trial the presiding judge will be Jerome B. Simandle. In the meantime, many of the motions are being handled and mishandled by a federal magistrate in Camden named Ann Marie Donio. Here is some of what has been happening in the case in the last two months.
New Jersey’s Shah has disputed the authenticity of the video of the stop. The video, a still from the recording illustrates this story, is actually incomplete. A previous federal consent decree compelled Trooper Carlini to turn on his dash cam when he turned on his light bar so a record would exist of whether the stop was justified or not. Trooper Carlini didn’t turn on his camera until he got out of his car but Shah has no problem with that. He objects to another alteration.
The original recording was on VHS. In order to play the video in court Spencer had the footage ported over to a Digital Video Disc. Spencer carefully documented every step of the process but Shah still objected that the evidence might have been “altered.”
He wrote: “The original videotape of the incident speaks for itself. Answering Defendants reserve the right to authenticate the video attached as Exhibit A, as well as the right to verify the accuracy of its timestamp and amplify its sound. Without such authentication and testing, Answering Defendants must deny the allegations….”
Shah’s objection was entirely gamesmanship. In a previous motion he had written: “the MVR (mobile video/audio recording) is properly considered by the Court…because it is undisputedly authentic and integral to the Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint, which relies on it extensively.”
Donio, the Camden Federal Magistrate, didn’t want to rule on the authenticity of the DVD. “Why would I deem it authentic today, in the nature of this proceeding,” she asked. “What would be the benefit or detriment to that? Isn’t it evidence that will be presented and admitted in an appropriate trial and why do we need to address the authenticity of what the recording is today?”
Eventually she agreed with Shah that the DVD was not a “true, correct, accurate and admissible transcription and copy of the original VHS videotape recording.”
In a Memorandum Opinion filed last December 14, Simandle “affirmed” Donio’s ruling. Then wrote: “In light of the agreement of both sides during briefing of this motion that the videotape exhibit is authentic, the Court will deem the exhibit as having been authenticated under Rules 901, et seq., Fed. R. Evid. Its admissibility at trial will thus depend on either the parties’ stipulation of admissibility or upon Plaintiffs’ showing under the relevant exception(s) to the hearsay rules in Ruls 801-803, Fed. R. Evid., and the accompanying Order will also so provide.”
As part of their lawsuit Coles, Ballinger and Degailler seek an injunction:
a. Against all Defendants not to infringe in any manner against the Constitutional Right of members of motorcycle clubs to wear collective membership marks or colors.
b. Adopting and extending those parts of the injunction entered by Judge Cooper in USA v. State of New Jersey, Civil No. 99-5970, U.S.D.C. for the District of New Jersey which requires the video and audio recording of all traffic stops by the New Jersey State Police.
c. Restraining all Defendants from ordering, compelling, bullying, requesting, coercing, or threatening a member of a motorcycle club to remove clothing that bears their motorcycle club collective membership mark or colors.
d. Restraining all Defendants from retaliating against members of motorcycle clubs for wearing club collectible membership marks or colors.
e. Restraining all Defendants from making investigatory traffic stops of citizens wearing collective membership marks or colors unless there is reasonable suspicion of a violation of the motor vehicle code or an illegal activity.
f. Restraining all Defendants from profiling motorcyclists who wears collective membership marks or colors.
g. Restraining all Defendants from issuing a summons for wearing an improper helmet for a motorcycle without an inspection of the helmet.
h. Restraining all Defendants from issuing a summons for an offense not possibly committed by a motorcyclist, specifically, wearing an improper helmet for a motorized bicycle.
i. Restraining all Defendants from detaining groups of motorcyclists for want and warrant checks when the time for multiple want and warrant checks requires multiple citizens to await the want and warrant checks on the other citizens.
j. Requiring all Defendants to expedite any traffic stop, to only make multiple want and warrant checks when some reasonable suspicion exits for the warrant checks for specific individuals, and not to extend the traffic stop in order to punish, harass, demean, discriminate, intimidate, punish, humiliate or embarrass motorcycle club members.
k. Requiring all Defendants that when stopping motorcyclists as a group that those citizens who stop at the direction of the State Police, but for whom there is no reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or criminal activity, that said motorcyclists must be released from arrest and seizure, and be told that they are free to go.
I. Restraining all Defendants from impounding an insured, registered, and otherwise street legal motorcycle, which is legally parked, due to a separate traffic offense by the owner.
m. Restraining all Defendants from threatening collateral prosecution in order to coerce citizens to remove their collective membership marks or colors.
n. Restraining all Defendants from issuing a summons for a motorcycle helmet violation, without probable cause, or an inspection of the helmet.
o. Restraining all Defendants from issuing a summons for an offense not possibly committed by a motorcyclist, specifically, wearing an improper helmet for a motorized bicycle.
Bikers Are Bad Guys
New Jersey thinks the injunction is dangerous to lying and bullying police.
Shah, and his hundreds of imps, have spent much of the last two years portraying the three Pagans as enemies of general society and a real and constant danger to police everywhere. The proof for these allegations basically comprises often erroneous news accounts based on police announcements and boilerplate statements coerced out of federal defendants in plea and sentencing agreements.
So, for example, Shah argues that Carlini was not trying to give the men he stopped a hard time. Instead, “The Pagans and Tribe are violent criminal enterprises and it is reasonable for police officers to take heightened security precautions when encountering them during traffic stops, including ensuring sufficient backup, and ensuring that sufficient officers are present to watch theirmovements at all times. As described below, law enforcement officers have been killed during routine traffic stops involving these groups. Joining these clubs necessarily entails engaging in certain criminal activities. This is especially important in this case due to the presence of the prospect, Robert Fleming. The violent hostility of these groups to African-Americans poses a threat to African-American officers, such as Trooper Manuel in this case, thereby requiring heightened caution. The so-called ‘charity event’ the plaintiffs claim they sought to attend was a cover for racketeering activity, including illegal gambling similar to that subject to the mass criminal prosecution of the Pagan’s leadership in West Virginia.”
In statements like these it is difficult to tell whether Shah is simply a liar and a cheat of if he is actually very stupid. The “illegal gambling” he references in the West Virginia case refers to a fund raising motorcycle raffle. The Pagans accused of that crime pled guilty to a misdemeanor and were fined five dollars each.
Shah rants on that the Pagans and the Tribe are very bad men. Then he cites as proof unsubstantiated allegations made by the National Gang Intelligence Center, the Philadelphia Inquirer, a 1997 New York Times story about a Warlock named Robert “Mudman” Simon, a 1998 story in the Newark Star-Ledger, the boiler plate in former Pagan President Floyd Moore’s plea and sentencing agreement and an ATF press release.
The Pagans Patch
Shah displays either breath taking mendacity or utter ignorance of the law when he alleges that in the West Virginia case the Pagans forfeited their colors to the United States. The attempt to seize the club’s colors in that case was part of a wide sweeping and unconstitutional attempt to eliminate motorcycle clubs by seizing their indicators of membership, that is the words and patches members wear on their backs. Shah argues that Floyd Moore trademarked the Pagans patch and then forfeited it to the government as part of his plea deal.
The Department of Justice originally tried that tactic with the Mongols in the case U.S. v. Cavazos et al. Then Mongols President Ruben “Doc” Cavazos had done the same thing Moore did. Cavazos probably told Moore to do it. Then Cavazos assigned the trademarks for the Mongols insignia to his own corporation. But four and a half years ago the late Florence Marie Cooper, who presided over that case until she died, ruled that even though Cavazos trademarked the club’s insignia he never owned it and never could. Even students at third-rate law schools should know that a trademark is not proof of ownership but a claim of ownership.
Neither Cavazos nor Moore ever owned the insignia they gave to the feds because motorcycle club patches are “collective membership marks” in exactly the same way that the Christian Cross and the Star of David are collective membership marks. The Pagans marks are Constitutionally protected speech in the same way that other symbols like the Confederate battle flag are Constitutionally protected expression.
But Shah, and New Jersey, continue to insist “the logo mark is indisputably the property of the United States.”
Let’s Go Fishing
Shah has also decided to use the lawsuit as an unprecedented excuse to gather intelligence about the Pagans Motorcycle Club which is not even a party to the suit. Among much else, New Jersey is demanding:
“All documents relating to your relationship with the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club (hereinafter ‘Pagan’), including but not limited to documents relating to: Your recruitment; offer you received to join the Pagans; your acceptance of that offer; maintaining status as a member of the Pagans; and correspondence (including e-mails) from or to Pagans members or leaders from the last 5 years, regardless of whether such correspondence was directed to you.
“All documents relating to the Pagans and their operations, including but not limited to the Pagans: Organizational structure; organizational bylaws; member rulebooks, guidebooks, manuals or other documents relating to the rules and procedures members are expected to follow; membership lists or other documents showing who is a member of the Pagans; and minutes of chapter meetings from the date of the first time you allege being stopped by law enforcement for wearing club colors through the present date.
“All bank or credit union account statements and credit card statements, for the period between and including July 30, 2009 and October 14, 2009.
“All documents pertaining to any other legal action – whether in civil court, criminal court, probate court, or family court – in which you were a party, including the pleadings, discovery, deposition or trial transcripts, settlement documents, court orders and decrees, releases, and stipulations of dismissal.
“All medical records from January 1, 2005, through the present date.
“All documents relating to the event at the Woodshed Beef and Beer on the evening of July 30, 2009.”
Spencer replied to New Jersey’s demands by stating the obvious:
“The real purpose of defendants’ extensive and intrusive request for production of documents is to further harass these plaintiffs and continue the insults that they received at the side of the road into the courthouse. The message is that if you sue us, we will turn your suit into a criminal investigation of yourselves, and the motorcycle club to which you belong. We have trampled your constitutional rights, and will justify it by demeaning, humiliating, and insulting the motorcycle clubs to which you belong. We will ignore your first amendment rights to associate in the courthouse in the same manner that we did at the traffic stop. We will not only delve into the irrelevant workings of the club in which you belong, but will fish through every aspect of your personal life so that the trauma filing a civil rights action approaches the trauma you received on July 30, 2009. Defendants’ goal is not for civil discovery, but to intimidate and investigate.”
The case isn’t even close to trial.