MARY HUDDLE, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Civil Action No. 88-3130 JHG RONALD WILSON REAGAN, et al., Defendants.
On February 17, 1989, federal defendants' counsel, Assistant United States Attorney ("AUSA") Michael L. Martinez, filed an Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Sanctions or Other Disciplinary Action ("Deft's Opp."), suggesting plaintiffs' request for disciplinary action should be denied as frivolous. 1/
Is it not self-evident that freedom of thought/belief is not frivolous? Does the complaint not clearly allege a dispute centering on thought/belief? Is it not a matter of record that plaintiffs have been imprisoned; that one is presently sentenced to thirty days in the custody of the U.S. Attorney (Cr. No. 87-235), and thirty days "in the woods"? Cr. No. 87-194. Are there not unanswered allegations of a broad assortment of Consti- tutional ills? Counsel seems unlikely to argue that access to the judicial system is frivolous. Plaintiffs wonder, how can a petition for relief from a careless claim (infra, p. 4 - 7) which might foreclose access to civil remedy, be considered frivolous? See, Marbury v. Madison ___ U.S. ____ (1803).
1/ Counsel addresses seven "points" (Deft's Reply, pgs. 2 - 7), six of which he dispatches in short, single paragraphs. Then he devotes two full pages - four times the amount of discussion devoted to any other single issue - to religion. Regardless of whatever else he may say, here is a clear indication that he perceives some import in the issue of religion.
Plaintiffs' experience gives them reason to infer something is wrong, and grounds to allege that the problem is regulations, promulgated under false pretences, intentionally applied without good cause, against the exercise of their religiously-motivated actions, resulting in various Constitutional injuries. Evidence, rather than counsel's perhaps well-intended suppositions, should be allowed to determine whether plaintiffs' religious beliefs are "sincere" or some type of "newly found" sham, and whether their claim is "vast" or "frivolous." See generally, Adickes v. Kress, 398 U.S. 144 (1970). 2/
1. Plaintiffs respectfully maintain that the question of whether their "religion is ... newly found" is substantial. Indeed, the gravity of the issue is reflected in counsel's pretention that "(b)ecause plaintiffs have ... made no connection between their beliefs ... and their activities in Lafayette Park, this Court should reject plaintiffs' assertion that they have stated a claim under 42 USC 1985(3)." Federal Defendants' Reply to Plaintiffs' Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss and All of Plaintiffs' Other Submissions (hereinafter "Deft's Reply") filed January 28, 1989, p. 5.
2. Plaintiffs agree that, prior to March 4th, defendants' counsel of record had been AUSA John Bates. While AUSA Martinez did not file a formal entry of "appearance in the first Thomas
2/ If plaintiffs are wrong, they might certainly have a problem. That is not, however, the only consideration. Plaintiffs have brought this Complaint representing the People of the United States. If plaintiffs are "right," theoretically, it would be the People's problem, and plaintiffs would only be trying to help.
case (until) March 4, 1986" (Deft's Opp. p. 4, footnote 2), it is indisputable that he "was involved in that case" since at least 3/ as early as February 21, 1986. SEE, Exhibit 1, hereto.
3. Mr. Martinez insists "(p)laintiffs know full well that religion was not the focus of the earlier Thomas cases" (Deft's Opp. pg. 3), yet defendants' own pleadings disagree. E.g.:
"(Plaintiff) claims a general conspiracy to suppress his expression and the freedom of his religious beliefs in Counts One, Two, Nine and Nineteen. Am. Cmplt. pp. 45-48, 55-56, 63." Thomas v. United States, C.A. 84-3552, Federal Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or for a More Definite Statement, filed December 4, 1985, page 8. SEE, Exhibit 2, hereto. 4/
4. Nor, as counsel suggests, need plaintiffs rely on "two isolated 1985 quotations mentioning religion" to "undermine the federal defendants' assertion (that) (r)eligion was simply never an issue." Religion was repeatedly put at issue. Once, and not the earliest or most artful of many possible examples, was shortly after Mr. Martinez admits to having become "involved" in the first Thomas case, fully a year before he insists that religion first became an issue. See, Exhibit 3, hereto, filed April 22, 1986.
3/ It appears that by his signature AUSA John D. Bates' also certifies Mr. Martinez's instant pleadings. Compare, Exhibit 2. Plaintiffs have been unable to locate certain documents, but do not preclude the possibility that Mr. Martinez was actively, albeit perhaps informally, "involved" with Mr. Bates in the first Thomas case as early as October, 1985. Compare, Exhibit 2.
4/ Exhibit 2, as attached hereto, consists of only pages 1, 8, and 21 of Federal Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and for More Definite Statement. Plaintiffs believe that the document contains numerous inaccuracies which 1) cannot justify the paper necessary to photocopy it, and 2) would require the inclusion of plaintiffs' Opposition to Federal Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and plaintiffs' More Definite Statement, both filed in the first Thomas case on January 17, 1986, needlessly complicating an already complicated matter.
"Why does the rule require the attorney to certify that he has read the paper? The purpose plainly is not to penalize a lawyer for failing to read it but to eliminate ignorance as an excuse. There is no room for a pure heart empty head defense under Rule 11." SanctionsUnder The New Federal Rule 11, A Closer Look, 104 F.R.D. 186, 187. (1985).
Even if Mr. Martinez did not become "involved" in the first Thomas case until March 4, 1986 -- and particularly since he has presently been involved in the matter for nearly three years -- it might be assumed that, when he filed the paper at issue here, he should have known what the first Thomas case was about, even if it did contain "thousands of pages."
Rule 11 "mandates reasonable prefiling inquiry with respect to the facts ... on which (the) paper is based." Id. p. 185.
Understandably, perhaps, but erroneously nonetheless, Mr. Martinez thinks his representation that "plaintiffs' reliance on religion in this case is `newly found'" has provoked "particularly ... Mr. Thomas' ire." Deft's Opp. p. 2, compare, Exhibits 4 - 7, hereto. In fact what concerned Mr. Thomas' most were representations preceding defendants' footnote 3. For example, "(plaintiffs) have offered nothing in this case other than conclusory and self-serving affidavits to demonstrate that their beliefs are in fact religious in nature." Deft's Reply p. 5.
Plaintiffs have hand-delivered "affidavits to demonstrate that their beliefs are in fact religious in nature" to Mr. Martinez for years. Plaintiffs assert that -- in addition to being sanctionable -- Deft's Reply, footnote 3 is the closest Mr. Martinez has come to a factual inquiry of plaintiffs' ideas. Had Mr. Martinez made this claim years ago, he might have seemed a
professional who valued truth, and a lot of litigation might have been avoided. At this late date it just looks like a shabby job.
Moreover, plaintiffs submit, there is documentary evidence in the record which, if properly linked with plaintiffs' affidavits, would bridge any seeming gap between plaintiffs' religious exercise and their presence in Lafayette Park. Plaintiffs would welcome the opportunity to span this understanding gap, and believe that end can be accomplished through reason and logic/ questions and answers.
Assuming, as the Court should (e.g. Reuber v. United States, 737 F.2d at 1057), that plaintiffs are attempting to articulate valid truth of broad public concern, it becomes readily apprehendable that this truth would be expansive, and expressing it would be no simple task. Many people, and perhaps Mr. Martinez is one, might not be expected to understand the truth immediately. A lot of people didn't understand Jesus 5/, and, when he drove the moneychangers out of the temple, or healed on the Sabbath, Jesus probably didn't expect the scribes and pharisees to understand that his actions were religiously motivated. But he tried to explain it to them so that everyone might be saved. "Know the truth and the truth shall set you free." John, chapter 8.
Mr. Martinez professes to see no "religious significance" in the "communication of anti-nuclear views." Deft's Opp. p. 5. This lack of vision is readily understandable in one of those
5/ To forestall possible allegations of delusions of grandeur, none of the plaintiffs claim to be perfect or even saintly. On the contrary, plaintiffs are only attempting to determine the truth (i.e., "Actual Reality".) SEE, USA v. Thomas, App. No. 3034, slip op. filed December 30, 1988, p. 8.
people who do not believe that the Creator manifests Itself in humanity, or that "the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof." "The law" gives Mr. Martinez every right to be such an "unbeliever," and he may sincerly have difficulty comprehending why any self-respecting Universal Creator would even bother to condemn nuclear (or any) weapons, or instruct His/Her servants to devote their lives to communicating against war and weapons.
But Mr. Martinez's possible failure in comprehension/belief cannot, of itself, negate either the sincerity of plaintiffs' beliefs, the possible existence of a Universal Creator, or the possibility that the Universal Creator actually deems the preservation of life on earth to be of greater "substantial interest" than the purported "aesthetic" preferences of an unspecified percentage of unidentified American citizens vis-a-vis seven acres in downtown Washington, D.C.
Plaintiffs claim to know their own intents. They may not be able to express those intents with exact precision on paper, but the best Mr. Martinez can do is to guess at plaintiffs' intents.
"(C)rucial under (Rule 11) is ... whether ... the attorney has acquired knowledge of facts sufficient to enable him to certify that the paper is well grounded in fact.... Suspicion, rumor or surmise will not do. SanctionsUnder The New Federal Rule 11, A Closer Look, p. 187, emphasis in original.
Perhaps plaintiffs are out of touch with reality, perhaps they have only fabricated an ingenious ploy to vex Mr. Martinez and his cohorts, and/or experience the joys of civil litigation, or perhaps plaintiffs have valid information on issues of broad public concern which they sincerely believe the Creator has instructed them to communicate to humanity.
Perhaps the government (with thoughtful or thoughtless assistance from Mr. Martinez and his cohorts) is either ignoring plaintiffs' information, or, as experience seems to suggest, is engaged in a scheme to strangle the exercise which plaintiffs sincerely believe their Creator has instructed them to carry out. In any event simple fairness and, it is thought, the Rules of Civil Procedure would require more than an ipse dixit characterization on behalf of the U.S. Attorney's Office to establish that plaintiffs' beliefs or affidavits are "self-serving."
Maybe someone is "right" about "religious beliefs" and maybe someone is "wrong," yet can we honestly pretend to know "who" is "which" until understanding is reached?
Plaintiffs allege Mr. Martinez's assertion that "plaintiffs' religion is ... newly found" (Deft's Reply, p. 2, compare, Exhibit 8, hereto) is flatly wrong. Yet, Mr. Martinez insists, "(t)he federal defendants stand by that assertion." Deft's Opp. p. 3.
"Resort to frivolous ... maintenance of baseless defenses and harassment of one's opponent are practices that judges and lawyers engaged in civil litigation encounter regularly....
"These practices tend to impose unjustified burdens on other parties, frustrate those who seekto vindicate their rights in courts, obstruct the judicial process, and bring the civil justice system into disrepute." Sanctions Under The New Federal Rule 11, A Closer Look, 104 F.R.D. 182.(1985)
It seems both logical and expeditious and just for the Court to determine who is actually telling the truth on this point.
"The detection and punishment of (Rule 11) violation(s) ... is part of the Court's responsibility for securing the system's effective operation." Moore's Fed. Prac., Rules Pamphlet, Part 1, p. 105 (1984).
"Rule 11 ... along with Rules 16 and 26 ... (is) intended to bring about greater judicial control of civil cases from their earliest stages in order to narrow the scope of the litigation and accelerate its disposition." Sanctions Under The New Federal Rule 11, A Closer Look, 104 F.R.D. 183 (1985).
Wherefore plaintiffs renew their motion, pursuant to Rules 11, 16 and 26, that this Court secure the effective operation of the system by determining whether Mr. Martinez's "knowledge (and) information (supported) a belief formed after reasonable inquiry ... grounded in fact ... and that it (was) not interposed for any improper purpose."
1440 N Street,N.W.Apt. 410
Washington, D.C. 20005
I, William Thomas, certify that on the 4th day of March, 1989, God willing, I will hand deliver a copy of Plaintiffs' Response to the Federal Defendants' Opposition To Plaintiffs' Motion for Sanctions or Other Disciplinary Action to Michael Martinez, 555 4th Street N.W., Washington, D.C., and Arthur Burger, 1300 Pensylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.