MISSOURIANS ARE “LESSER AMERICANS” UNDER FEDERAL LAW
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Supreme Court confirmed that the citizens of Missouri and six other states under the jurisdiction of the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals are “lesser Americans” in the eyes of federal law when it denied certiorari on Feb. 20, 2018, in the case of Akins v Knight, et al., a First Amendment retaliation civil rights case against Columbia Police officers and prosecutors.
Mr. Akins’ civil rights attorney, Stephen Wyse of Columbia, has long asserted that two of the eleven regional federal circuit courts of appeals refuse to apply U.S. Supreme Court precedents and that since 1988 the High Court has refused to protect the federal rights of citizens in these circuits by hearing only 60-plus cases per year total and refusing to protect its on-point precedents.
U.S. Supreme Court dysfunction since 1988 permits 2d Class Citizens
Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has asserted that the Supreme Court is not a real court but a quasi-political body.
“It’s very political, Posner told the Daily Beast (11/07/2013). “And they decide which cases to hear, which doesn’t strike me as something judges should do. You should take what comes. When you decide which case to hear it means you’ve decided the cases ahead of time.”
In the article, Judge Posner noted he writes about 90 opinions per year at the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The U.S. Courts of Appeals are one level before the U.S. Supreme Court in the federal system. The last several years the U.S. Supreme Court has issued about 60 opinions. This means a Supreme Court Justice would on average write fewer than 7 opinions during that year. My research established that prior to Congress changing the law in 1988. A change in the law that granted the U.S. Supreme almost absolute discretion in the cases they hear. That during years prior to the change that an average U.S. Supreme Court year would issue about 200 case written opinions per year (In the typewriter and book research era, a time before wide spread use of word processors and computer assisted legal research). In 1987, the Supreme Court issued 187 opinions on cases.
The discretion granted by Congress to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1988 means that conflicts between the federal U.S. Courts of Appeals may now go unresolved. Permitting the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals to be the de facto final word on federal law in the states under their jurisdiction. In two rogue circuits this has permitted the establishment of 2d Class American Citizens whose federal rights are not fully protected by our federal courts. So as to permit that Missourians are “lesser Americans” under federal law and lesser than our brethern in Illinois (7th Cir.) or Kansas (10th Cir.) and the majority of the United States.
First Amendment diminished in Missouri
In Akins, the Eighth Circuit had affirmed a District Court ruling, which held that: “Neither the public nor the media has a First Amendment right to videotape, photograph, or make audio recordings of government proceedings that are by law open to the public.”
By making that the law in the Eighth Circuit, the court granted civil rights immunity to police who thereafter arrest or interfere with citizens filming police in public. When the law is not “clearly established” government officials who violate a citizen’s civil rights may not be held accountable in a civil rights action. The Akins ruling runs contrary to six other federal circuit courts that have protected the First Amendment right to film police in public. The Citizens For Justice report was about Marlon Jordan filing a police misconduct complaint (peaceably assembled to petition the government for a redress of greivances) before Mr. Akins was ordered by a police official to stop filming in the CPD Public Lobby. A lobby which was the designated point for filing misconduct complaints, contained media advisories, informational displays and handouts. Further this lobby was the designated memorial location for fallen CPD Officer Molly Bowden where tributes to her service and sacrifice were sometimes made.
JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT PERMITTED
In Akins, the High Court also turned a blind eye to judicial misconduct. Akins had filed two motions to disqualify Judge Nanette Laughrey. One argued that she should be disqualified because her husband, a utility lobbyist, was serving as chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Infrastructure in Columbia while the case was pending. The other argued she should be disqualified because case evidence included a Citizens For Justice video report that related to Judge Laughrey’s reputation as a judge in Williams v Decker, a case involving the conduct of Columbia police officers who had handcuffed two black men at gun point when they were sitting in a park at noon listening to music. Although they were held for more than a hour before being released after being told by police you are “under arrest.” Judge Laughrey ruled it was not an “arrest” and therefore not a violation of Williams’ civil rights.
Further, the Columbia Heartbeat, a media website, had alleged that Judge Laughrey had a bias in favor of Columbia given her ruling in a contemporaneous case involving Columbia. Columbia Hearbeat reported, “My head is shaking over the Laughrey decision for a simple reason: her husband, Chris Kelly, chairs the Mayor’s Infrastructure Task Force, a job he landed after leading organized efforts to raise utility rates this year. On infrastructure, Kelly has become City Hall’s #1 cheerleader. That his wife is hearing Columbia’s most high-profile infrastructure legal case, maybe in history, seems like appallingly bad judgment. What do husband and wife talk about after work, at home, in private, he after chairing task force meetings about downtown infrastructure; she after hearing motions, pleadings, and other matters about the Opus development agreement with City Hall, which hinged on downtown infrastructure? How can Judge Laughrey be — or at least appear — impartial? Why won’t she recuse herself? The essence of jurisprudence on the bench is impartiality, and even the appearance of bias is so problematic judges routinely recuse themselves from cases that suggest it. But not Judge Laughrey.”
Wyse had previously filed a judicial misconduct complaint against Judge Laughrey in the Coates matter. In Coates, Judge Laughrey denied a motion to continue due to toxic publicity related to attorney Wyse’s representation, as a special public defender, in a child murder case concluded that week and sua sponte moved the trial, then set in ten days, up four days when none of Coates witnesses were under subpoena. Judge Laughrey went on to endorse the Highway Patrol’s settlement offer calling it “excellent” and disparging the injured Miss Coates for “issues” coercing an unfavorable settlement for Miss Coates for her broken arm due to asking a question of the Trooper about a seatbelt ticket.
Wyse noted that the dysfunction and lack of integrity in the federal courts has caused him to refuse to accept any new civil rights clients, effective March 1.
“Justice may still be found in state court before juries of Missourians,” he said, “but I have no such confidence in federal courts.”