USDC Cr. No. 84-3552
THOMAS v. REAGAN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
WILLIAM THOMAS, et al
Plaintiff Pro Se
versus CA 84-3552
Judge Louis Oberdorfer
UNITED STATES, et al Magistrate Arthur Burnett
DEPOSITION OF MANUS J. FISH
August 21, 1986
The above-entitled matter came on for DEPOSITION OF MANUS J.
FISH before ARTHUR L. BURNETT, United States Magistrate for the
District of Columbia ("THE COURT"), on August 21, 1986.
On behalf of Federal Defendants and Mr. Fish:Michael Martinez ("M")
Assistant U.S. Attorney
On behalf of Department of Interior:Patricia Bangert ("B")
Assistant Solicitor and Defendant in this Action
On behalf of Plaintiffs:William Thomas, acting Pro Se ("T")
Ellen B. Thomas representing Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil ("MRS. T")
C O N T E N T S
Deposition of: Manus J. Fish
Transcript by Ellen B. Thomas
P R O C E E D I N G S
THE CLERK: Please raise your hand. Do you solemnly swear
that the testimony you're about to give will be the truth, the
whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Fish: I do.
THE COURT: All right, Mr. Thomas, you may proceed. First,
just so the record's clear, have the witness fully identify
himself, his official title and job status, if not now employed,
any other records necessary to establish new witnesses testifying.
Based on previous proceedings, I think you have a pretty good idea
what the Court thinks is relevant to your inquiry, so I think you
can proceed as of this point.
Thomas: Thank you, your Honor. Could you state your name for the
Mrs. Thomas: Excuse me. Excuse me. Could you talk right into the
Fish: My name is Manus J. Fish, Jr.
Thomas: And how are you employed?
Fish: I'm Regional Director for the National Park Service in
Thomas: And what are your responsibilities in that position?
Fish: I'm responsible for the 30 National Park Service areas in
the Washington, D.C. area, the state of Virginia, state of
Maryland, and state of West Virginia.
Thomas: Do you have any specific responsibilities with respect to
the promulgation of regulations?
Fish: Yes, I do.
Thomas: Could you give us some idea what they are?
Fish: Well, as Regional Director it's my responsibility to
promulgate the regulations for activities in the parks.
Thomas: So when a regulation comes out in the Federal Register, do
you have any specific responsibility with respect to the accuracy
of the information that's published in the Federal Register?
Fish: Yes. Uh huh. Sure.
Thomas: If something is incorrect, do you have some responsibility
Fish: I would assume so.
Thomas: So we can understand some definitions from the beginning
I think, if I might get this marked for evidence--
THE COURT: Fish Exhibit One.
Martinez: I'll take official notice--
Thomas: Could you just read those into the record and identify
Fish: It's Title 36 Parks (unclear) and Public Property, 50.19
demonstrations and special events. "(a) Definitions. (1) The term
'demonstrations' includes demonstrations, picketing, speechmaking,
marching, holding vigils or religious services and all other like
forms of conduct which involve communication or expression of views
or grievances engaged in by one or more persons the conduct of
which has the effect, intent or propensity to draw a crowd of
onlookers" -- OR onlookers -- "This term does not include casual
park use by visitors or tourists which does not have an intent or
propensity to attract a crowd or onlookers." Then there's another
one down here, "(b)(1) Demonstrations involving 25 persons or less
may be held without a permit provided that the other conditions
required for the issuance of a permit are met and provided further
that the group is not merely an extension of another group already
availing itself of the 25-person maximum under this provision, or
will not unreasonably interfere with other demonstrations or
Thomas: With respect to the second definition, do you have any
idea when that first came into effect?
Martinez: Objection, your Honor, I think, this is taken out of
context, if we had the Federal Register in front of us or the Code
of Federal Regulations we could find that out, but to ask him to
remember that off the top of his head is clearly improper.
THE COURT: Well, let's find out for the record does he know,
he may know factually, if he does, fine, if he doesn't he can say
"I don't know," "I don't have a recollection at this point."
Fish: I do not recall, your Honor.
THE COURT: All right, very well.
THE COURT: Fish Exhibit Two for identification. Show it to
counsel first.... Okay, Mr. Thomas, you may proceed. The witness
Thomas: If you could just review that, please, Mr. Fish.
THE COURT: To himself, just briefly?
Thomas: Yeah, just briefly, with a mind to telling me who produced
it if you can.
Fish: This would have been prepared by our Solicitor's office
and, and others in our Regional Office.
Thomas: Could you specify the individual who would have been
responsible for -- going by the date, who would have had primary--
Fish: That was probably Rick Robbins and his staff.
Thomas: Okay. Could you, on the second page there's a highlighted
section, would you just read those highlighted sections into the
Martinez: Objection, your Honor, I think that the (unclear) speaks
for itself. I don't have any problem with him (unclear).
THE COURT: I assume Mr. Thomas would have a followup
question, so to read it into the record, I assume is merely to put
his followup question in context, I presume that's what he intended
Martinez: If that's the case, your Honor, I withdraw my objection,
but if it's merely to read it into the record, I think it speaks
THE COURT: All right. I presume you do have a followup
question, Mr. Thomas, about that particular highlighted area?
Thomas: Well, I do have a followup question at some point, I
wasn't sure if I wanted to ask it right at this point now.
THE COURT: Well, I think you'll make a clearer record if you
have him read a particular highlighted part and ask a specific
question, so we're not just having reading ad nauseum, 'cause if
you're just after the document, the Court can read the document.
If you have a specific question about specific phrases or passages,
as you do one, ask the question.
Thomas: Okay. Well, maybe I'll just hold onto it then until I get
to that point.
THE COURT: Fish Deposition Exhibit Number Three.
Thomas: Thank you. Could you read the highlighted section,
sentence in that -- could you identify the document first, please?
Fish: This is a Department of the Interior news release from the
office of the Secretary dated for release March 5, 1986. It says,
"Park Service publishes its final regulations for Lafayette Park
demonstrations." The highlighThomas: "We believe that the exercise of
First Amendment rights is of great importance."
Thomas: Would you identify--
Fish: That's a quote apparently from Secretary of the Interior
Thomas: Thank you. And could you identify who the "we" referred
to in that sentence denotes?
Fish: Well, I guess it's Secretary Hodel using the phrase "we
believe the exercise of First Amendment rights is of great
Thomas: Would that be Secretary Hodel speaking for himself in the
THE COURT: How is that relevant or material at this point,
Thomas: Well, I'm wondering whether or not the Secretary is
speaking for the Department of Interior or--
THE COURT: I think the document speaks for itself as an
official issuance; at this point the witness here would be
speculating as to what was going through Secretary Hodel's mind,
whether that was a genuine feeling or view on his part or not. So
let's ask this witness -- the purpose for having this witness here
is to ask about his personal involvement in the issuance of any
regulations, his personal involvement with reference to any
knowledge or awareness of your activities, and so forth, not as to
anyone else's. In the Court's view this deposition should only
take about a half hour. Any information he has you should be able
to cover in a half hour or forty-five minutes at the most.
Thomas: Do you agree with that statement?
Martinez: Objection, your Honor, what statement?
THE COURT: The statement about the First Amendment. Again
I'll sustain, whether he agrees with it or not, that's ultimately
a decision for the Court to make as to whether regulations are or
are not consistent with First Amendment freedoms or First Amendment
rights exercised by Mr. Thomas.
Fish: Yes, I strongly--
THE COURT: No, you don't have to answer the question if I
Fish: Oh, I'm sorry, okay.
Thomas: May I ask what, what you believe the importance of First
Amendment rights to be?
Martinez: Objection, your Honor.
Thomas: Do you perceive--
THE COURT: Sustained. Again, that's a kind of theoretical
discussion, why,ask him -- questions, questions about your
THE COURT: -- questions about your conduct, if he knows
anything about you prior to today. At this point it hasn't even
been established on the record that he ever heard of you before.
Ask your questions, was he aware of your demonstration activities,
what role did he have in propagating the regulations, promulgating
regulations, did he in any way make any recommendations which would
curtail or prohibit what you were doing? That's what this case is
all about, as I understand it. And whether what he attempted to
prohibit you from doing in his view in any way at all affected your
First Amendment rights. Did he have anything to do with
recommending or authorizing park policemen to arrest you, whether
they had probable cause or didn't have probable cause, to destroy
your signs, those are the issues in the case. The first ten
minutes you haven't touched any of those yet. Like I say, it's not
my duty to ask your questions for you.
Thomas: That's true, but I'm trying to lay the groundwork for --
um -- an inquiry into the purpose for the promulgation of the
Lafayette Park regulation.
THE COURT: Well, why don't you ask him that?
Thomas: Well, that's what I'm doing--
THE COURT: You don't need to take an hour--
Thomas: The Department of the Interior has issued a press release
which says that they believe that First Amendment rights are
important, and they see First Amendment rights--
THE COURT: The Department of Interior is a big institutional
complex, I don't even know if this witness even saw the release
before today, maybe you can ask him that.
Thomas: Okay. Did you see the release before today, Mr. Fish?
Fish: I don't know for sure.
THE COURT: Did you have anything to do with reference to
preparing or writing the release?
Fish: Not that I recall, your Honor.
THE COURT: All right. Go ahead, Mr. Thomas, I've suggested to
you hopefully what are the most relevant lines of inquiry in my
last colloquy, why don't you proceed down that line?
Thomas: Okay, I'll try this. I have three exhibits I'd like to
THE COURT: Speak loud enough so the tape player can pick it
up. Fish Deposition Exhibit offered. (pause) The witness has had
a chance to review Exhibits Four, Five and Six, Mr. Thomas. You
may ask your questions.
Thomas: All right. Maybe before we go to those exhibits, Mr.
Fish, we could touch on the questions that the Magistrate was
asking. Did you have any knowledge of my existence before we met
Fish: I knew, knew of you, yes.
Thomas: And what did you know of me?
Fish: Just that you demonstrated in the, in the park.
Thomas: How long have you known that?
Fish: I don't really recall.
THE COURT: It hasn't been established for the record yet, how
long have you held your present position, back to when?
Fish: Back to 1973, your Honor.
THE COURT: So during the relevant period here, from 19, June
of 1981 to date, you have occupied the same position you now hold--
THE COURT: -- for the time period involved in this case?
Fish: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: All right, very well.
Thomas: Can I ask you what your position was, whether you worked
in the Department of Interior before, before you moved into your
Fish: Yes, I was.
Thomas: And what position where you in at that time?
Fish: Well, just prior to being Regional Director I was Deputy
Thomas: National Capital Region?
Fish: National Capital Region, yes.
Thomas: Is the name Stacey Abney familiar to you?
Fish: (pause) No.
THE COURT: While those are being marked, do you have any
questions about the three exhibits you've shown him already?
Thomas: I think that I'm going to use these first.
THE COURT: All right, Mr. Thomas, very well. (long pause)
THE CLERK: Fish Deposition Eight through Thirteen.
Thomas: Okay, I'm showing Mr. Martinez No. 12 and 13.
Martinez: Could I see the others?
THE COURT: If Mr. Martinez can look at the others while the
witness goes over them, then maybe we'll finish by lunchtime,
Thomas: Thank you.
THE COURT: It might be better for you to put the tape recorder
on the witness stand box and you probably, I don't know how you can
keep your paperwork if you sit here, but you'll be able to stop it,
and that way you'll be sure to pick up the witness's testimony.
Mrs. Thomas: All right, thank you, your Honor. (Tested recorder,
stayed at plaintiff's table.)
THE COURT: All right, Mr. Thomas, you may proceed.
Thomas: Could you identify those documents?
Fish: Exhibit 12 is a letter on National Capital Region,
National Park Service stationery dated June 4, 1982, to "To Whom It
May Concern," and it's signed by me as Regional Director of the
National Capital Region.
Thomas: Could you read the highlighted part of that letter please?
Fish: Actually, there's no highlighted part here, but I can read
one paragraph there, "This is to advise you that you are in
violation of said regulations, and (unclear) appropriate law
enforcement action may include arrest or imposition of the
penalties described above if you do not remove the temporary
structures you are now using for living accommodation purposes from
(unclear) desist camping in park areas not designated as public
camping grounds by 9 a.m. on Monday, June 7, 1982."
Thomas: All right, I'm sorry, the specific paragraph that I was
interested in here was this second paragraph, first sentence.
Fish: Okay. "I have determined that you are using the park as
a living accommodation, and that you are in violation of
regulations contained in 36 CFR Sections 50.19(e)(8) and 50.27(a).
Persons violating these regulations may be punished by a fine of
not more than $500 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six
months or both."
Thomas: Okay, now if you could identify the other document and
read the highlighted part in that.
Fish: This too is a letter from the National Capital Region Park
Service to Mr. Mitch Snyder dated November 13, 1981, signed by
myself. The highlighted portion: "As we explained at the meeting,
Park Service regulations, while allowing some form of symbolic
camping, do not permit camping primarily for living accommodations
in undesignated areas such as Lafayette Park. Your proposal as
presented would utilize tents and other equipment primarily for
living accommodations, and is therefore not permissible under the
Thomas: Do you recall what transpired with respect to that
demonstration, the CCNV demonstration, in 1981? On the,
specifically November 27?
Fish: No, I wouldn't, I can't remember that, November 27.
Thomas: May I have this marked [as exhibit ___] -- does that
refresh your recollection as to November 27 of 1981?
Fish: Well, I remember generally. This was on the 26th of
November and on the 27th, an incident record.
Thomas: Do you recall the meeting that's referred to in, I believe
it's Exhibit 12, your letter to the Community for Creative
Fish: That would be Exhibit 13.
Fish: I do not. And, I don't seem to recall that meeting.
THE COURT: Mr. Thomas, the Court still has a problem how
that's relevant to your case, why don't you go on and ask questions
that somehow deal with your situation at this point. As to how
inquiry about Mitch Snyder and living accommodations and tents, ask
your question specifically about yours, we've gone for a half hour
now, and I don't, haven't heard over two minutes of testimony that
appears to enlighten me, or enlighten the Court as to issues you
raised in this case to this point. Except for marking a whole lot
of documents we haven't gotten anywhere.
Martinez: Your Honor, if I might add to that, also all of these
documents relate to a period a year before any of the regulations
that are supposedly at issue in this case, so therefore they're
even less relevant.
Case Listing --- Proposition One ---- Peace Park