AN EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTby Thomas
A QUESTION OF SANITY
The undersigned witness does not agree with everything that
Casimer Urban, Junior says, but he thinks that it's a crime
against humanity, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to
put him in a mental institution for saying it. Yet that is what
On July 17, 1984, Mr. Urban ("UJC") was lying on a blanket on a
sidewalk in Lafayette Park, in front of the White House, before a
sign which read "Welcome to Reaganville 1984, where sleep is
considered a crime." UJC was not sleeping. He was protesting a
recent Supreme Court decision ("CCNV") which he claimed nullified the
Constitution. Nonetheless he was arrested and charged with
Taken before Federal Magistrate Jean Dwyer, UJC demanded to
represent himself, claiming that the Constitution guaranteed him
that right. He asked that his case be heard before a District
Court judge, mentioning the possibility, in his opinion, that the
matter might eventually be heard by the Supreme Court. Magistrate
Dwyer overruled Mr. Urban's demand and appointed an attorney,
Charles Chisholm, to speak for him, explaining that she wanted to
insure that Mr. Urban's rights were protected.
Mr. Chisholm first made a motion that the charges be dismissed on
the grounds that no camping regulations were posted in the park.
When that motion, understandably( was denied by the magistrate,
Mr. Chisholm then moved that UJC be committed to St. Elizabeth's
Hospital for psychiatric examination.
While exiting the courtroom the witness asked Mr. Chisholm,
"Precisely what was it that made you suspect that Mr. Urban might
require psychiatric treatment?"
"Mr. Urban disagrees with the rules, the regulations, the values,
and the structure of the system. In fact, he disagrees with just
about everything about the system."
"Okay, but specifically what was it that made you question his
"When someone disagrees with everything about the system it makes
his life very difficult."
"No argument there, but specifically what was it that made you
question his contact with reality?" Mr. Chisholm could offer no
On this day Mr. Urban, who claims an honorable discharge from
the U.S. Marines, accomplished several firsts He was (1)
arrested, (2) sent to jail, and (3) committed to a mental
Several weeks later Nina Kraut, another lawyer, told this witness that Mr. Chisholm had said, "All those people in Lafayette Park are rioters, and deserve to be in prison."
In September a competency hearing was held before Federal
District Court Judge Norma Johnson. Dr. Robert K. Madsen,
Clinical Psychologist for St. Elizabeth's, wrote an opinion that
Mr. Urban was incompetent to stand trial "by virtue of not
having a rational understanding of the (legal) proceedings
pending against him and not being able to consult with his
counsel with a rational degree of reasonable understanding."
When the opinion was read to him by Judge Johnson, UJC
interrupted, "That's because my counsel doesn't return my phone
calls." Judge Johnson hushed UJC, admonishing him that his
attorney's good intentions were clearly evidenced by the simple
fact that he was in the courtroom on Mr. Urban's behalf. The
judge failed to note that the attorney had been over three hours
late for the hearing. (Experience of the witness attests to the
fact that Mr. Chisholm doesn't always answer phone calls.)
"Furthermore," Dr. Madsen's report continued, "On July 17, 1984
Mr. Urban was suffering from a mental disease which affected his
behavioral controls, and the alleged offense, if committed by
him, was a product of a mental disease."
Mr. Chisholm failed to point out not only that the "alleged
offense" was "camping," but also that the behavior and conduct
which Dr, Madsen thought to be the product of a "mental disease"
was nothing more than lying on a blanket on a sidewalk in front
of a sign.
Dr. Madsen testified that "Mr. Urban may never be competent to
stand trial in his life." Even if a judge can be found who
considers lying on a blanket on a sidewalk to be "camping," the
maximum sentence for "camping" is only six months in prison. Yet
Mr. Chisholm seems to think it preferable to arrange for his
client to be locked up in a mental institution for life.
In his testimony Dr. Madsen noted two examples which he
represented as indicative of mental disease. First he related a
question which he had posed to Mr. Urban. "If you lived in a
group house, and all members of the house voted 'no eating in the
living room,' and you ate in the living room, do you think your
actions would negate the democratic process?" Dr. Madsen said Mr.
Urban replied that the analogy was irrelevant, because what had
happened to him was that the government had violated the
Constitution and thereby itself had negated the democratic
The reason Mr. Urban might never understand the legal proceedings
against him, Dr. Madsen said, was that UJC has very "deep rooted
delusions" of having had understanding of what he called a
"Unified Field Theory" from the age of three. Mr. Urban, the
doctor said, felt that his Unified Field Theory would be of great
benefit to humanity, and gave the doctor a piece of paper
which had mathematical symbols and equations on it. Dr. Madsen
added that the symbols and equations made no sense to him nor to
any of the other hospital employees to whom he showed them.
In a telephone conversation with Mr. Urban the following day, the
witness asked him how long Dr. Madsen had spoken with him. UJC
said that during better than thirty days of "observation"
he had not spoken with the doctor for more than a couple of hours
At that time the witness also asked UJC whether he felt it would
be too great a compromise of his principles to soft peddle his
Unified Field Theory until after he could be rescued from his
predicament. "I have not been giving it the hard sell," UJC said.
"I merely explained that this was my personal perspective of
reality. That no one had ever shown me an error in my reasoning,
and therefore, since it seems to work well for me, I can see no
reason to change my perspective. I suggested that they send my
equations to Harvard or M.I.T. to see if there were any errors in
This witness feels personally incapable of making an accurate
determination as to whether UJC's Unified Field Theory is
profound or fantastic; however, having observed Mr. Urban on a
daily basis for an average of twelve to eighteen hours a day over
a period of four months, there are certain personal observations
that can be made without reservation. During that period UJC
concentrated his effort to communicate his ideas, beliefs, and
opinions without ever being aggressive or threatening. He was
conscientious and responsible in his endeavors and personal
hygiene, despite the handicaps of social ostracization which he
suffered as a result of indigence. He was always independent,
and never refused to be of assistance when needed.
Even assuming that UJC has believed in an erroneous Unified Field
Theory for the last 32 of his 35 years, personally the witness
would prefer him for a neighbor to a man who professed to
protect us with an arsenal capable of ending all life on earth.
The former misconception seems less lethal than the latter
UJC doesn't smoke, drink, or use drugs. Because he had refused
the "psychotropic" medications which the hospital administration
feels to be the only hope of getting Mr. Urban to see things from
the perspective of the system, Judge Johnson ordered that Mr.
Urban be given Prolixin, if necessary by force.
It is difficult to imagine how a system which professes to uphold
the principle of individual freedom of belief could possibly
order an individual to undergo chemotherapy in order to alter
beliefs the validity of which that system had not bothered to
Pursuant to the observations of this witness, the only logical
conclusions he can draw are:
- AT BEST the arresting officer was ignorant, Mr. Chisholm was
incompetent, Magistrate Dwyer ignored the most fundamental
principles of the Constitution, the U.S. Federal Marshals acted
the part of strongarm bullies, the staff of St. Elizabeth's
played the role of devotion to the status quo, and Judge Norma
Johnson illustrated absolute disregard for human rights, simple
human dignity, and the most fundamental precepts of the