90 days: Ademo Released

Journalist Adam “Ademo” Mueller was released on the 11th.

Adam Mueller is the founder of CopBlock.org, and co-host of Free Talk Live, a New Hampshire-based liberty-oriented program that is streamed online and nationally syndicated on radio in the U.S.  Mueller appeared on the Saturday live edition, to say he’s now “free as a bird,” but the battle isn’t over.

Over a year ago, Frank W. Harrington, 17, was “messing around” with his sister when he took her purse.  Although Harrington said his sister was largely unconcerned, the school sent out school resource officer Darren Murphy, an officer that would come to aggressively arrest the student.  Harrington got twelve days suspension, along with disorderly conduct and “resisting arrest” charges.

Michael Proulx, also 17, recorded the scene.  When the school ordered Proulx to delete everything, he lied, telling them that he only took pictures, and proceeded to act as if deleting photos.  The video would come in handy: a must for CopBlock.org, a site that seeks accountability for rights violations and brutality of the police.  (And who likes bad apples?)  The video of Harrington being lifted from his seat in the school cafeteria by Murphy and slammed face-first into a table went up last October.

Dedicated to voluntarism, Adam Mueller was on the case to defend Harrington and Proulx, and asked for comment the Manchester police captain, Manchester High School West principal and a school secretary.  Contending “oh, and it’s not illegal at all” to tape “misguided” Murphy, an “exact example why filming police is important,” Mueller didn’t explicitly tell any of these people that the conversations he had with them were being recorded.

You’d think that the recording of the direct phone call made by the civilian party—not some bug in a lamp—would be allowed or implied in asking for and using quotes as any journalist would.  Mueller, after all, told them he was asking them for their comment on the matter.  But New Hampshire is one of twelve states in the union of fifty that make any form of recording illegal without expressed permission.

Indictment

It wasn’t until months after Mueller used soundbites from those recorded conversations for a posted video compilation that he was indicted on three charges of wire-tapping and…talking—seven years maximum each.  According to the Union Leader, the law states there is “reasonable expectation that what (the person on the other end) is saying is not subject to interception.”  Mueller represented himself pro se.

The pre-trial lasted until July 18.  Representative Mark Warden (R-NH) attended the hearing, later telling the Associated Press that prosecuting Mueller was a travesty and a total waste of taxpayer dollars.  Mueller refused a plea deal that would have offered a two-year suspended sentence, and wrote a post on why:

Here’s how I see the offer: it’s a stellar deal if I actually thought what I had done was wrong. If I were facing 9-21 years for anything else and was offered a 1-2 year suspended sentence, I’d sign it immediately. 

Yet, by the time this is published to CopBlock.org and other blogs, I’ll have refused Michael’s offer and here’s why. First, I can’t go against my principles and sign a deal that says I acknowledge my actions as wrong or illegal. Second, I’m not a hypocrite. How can I advocate refusing plea deals and sign one myself? I don’t judge anyone who has taken pleas because each case/charge is different. Third, I am confident I can show a jury, with facts and logic, that I shouldn’t be caged for my actions.

So, unless Michael Valentine or the judge decides to drop my charges completely, I say, “let the circus begin!”

Trial

It’s now August, 2012, and an important letter was sent to the wrong address, printed on a label sticker.  Before the August 6 jury selection began, a #FreeAdemo campaign was launched.  Mueller would be facing three invalid felony charges, given the fact that the applicable laws state such wire-tapping charges would be misdemeanors at worst.  The judge didn’t bother to read the charges.  Title LVIII of Public Justice: Wiretapping And Eavesdropping, Section 570-A:2 states:

A person is guilty of a misdemeanor if, except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter or without consent of all parties to the communication, the person knowingly intercepts a telecommunication or oral communication when the person is a party to the communication or with the prior consent of one of the parties to the communication, but without the approval required by RSA 570-A:2, II(d).

Mueller, representing himself, maintained he did no harm, physical or otherwise, and went on to include the recently-passed jury nullification law, which in part aims to void any “bad law” on a “not guilty” verdict.  Mark Warden agreed.  The prosecution resorted to warning the jury to not ‘side with law-breakers.’  The defendant doesn’t want to follow the law, and he’s essentially asking you to join him in not following the law, Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Michael Valentine told jurors that Monday (AP).

A public official who is on duty and in a public space has no expectation of privacy, said FTL co-host Ian Freeman, in a CNN iReport interviewThe First Circuit Court of Appeals has already ruled on this in Glik vs. Cunniff.  The person who should face consequences is the officer who threw that poor kid into a table during lunch at the school cafeteria, not the journalist who reported about it.

Adam Mueller’s conviction came as a shock to some, and the overall attention shot the video up the most-watched views of all time on iReport to #2.  Fortunately, he got only three months in jail.  But just remember: these Draconian laws will always pop up; it takes open eyes to stop them.

Credits: original August reporting by the Huffington Post (8.06 and 8.15), Cedar Rapids Activist (8.10) and Free Talk Live (8.11-18, 10.13).

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