Pro Se Chicago's Weblog

September 18, 2017

Complaint for mandamus & civil rights relief from incompetent judges


When judges or officials are incompetent, malicious, or plain mean and violate your civil rights there are two other means that the public usually doesn’t realize by which they can obtain relief even during the case. The judge or official must have a mandatory (non-discretionary) duty under the law or constitution to do a particular act, must have failed to do it, and must be able to do it if ordered to do so in order to use a mandamus complaint. Civil rights law is very complicated.  Both types of complaints should be handled by an attorney, but as a starting place if you are interested in such complaints then this is an example that was filed by me, a non-attorney pro se. Look up the  case law and look up cases regarding mandamus or civil rights in the circuit courts and under your states’ laws.

  1. Mandamus – this is where you ask a court to order an official (including a judge) to perform a task that is mandatory and not discretionary like set a bail when no bail was set in violation of the law – in Illinois no bail is allowed only on murder cases, cases where the sentence may be life, or cases where a due process hearing was held and the defendant is proven to be a danger to the public or himself.
  2. Civil rights complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief. Suppose a court refuses to allow you to put any witnesses on the stand, refuses to allow you to subpoena documents or refuses to accommodate your disabilities, even when you discussed them with the disability coordinator and followed the court procedures. Under the federal civil rights act section 1983 you can ask a different court (either state or federal) under federal law to declare the judge’s acts or orders in violation of law or the constitution (declaratory relief) and order the judge to follow the law and allow you compulsory process or force the judge to accommodate your disabilities (injunctive relief).
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July 31, 2009

A Teachable Moment and Freedom of Speech


Further explanation of Constitutional law that applies to the case of Harvard Prof. Gates’ arrest last week that prove that the arrest by Sgt. Crowley was illegal is explained by law school Prof. and constitutional scholar Amar at:

http://writ.lp.findlaw.com/amar/20090731.html

He explains that since Sgt. Crowley admitted in his report that Prof. Gate’s words that he considered “disorderly” occurred after he had concluded that no burglary had occurred (the investigation was over so there was no obstruction of justice), whatever Prof. Gates said was protected by the First Amendment right to free speech per the U.S. Supreme Court holding in Houston v. Hill two decades ago. Justice Brennan in that case stated “Speech is often provocative and challenging…[But it] is nevertheless protected against censorship or punishment, unless shown likely to produce a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest.” Therefore, Prof. Gates comments were  protected by the First Amendment and were not “disorderly.” That clearly is a reason why the charges were dropped. Constitutional rights always trump State law.

The vague disorderly conduct laws cannot negate a person’s right to free speech unless there is a “clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil” , like yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theatre or interfering with a police investigation of a crime.

I believe the arrest had nothing to do with race but everything to do with ego. Sgt. Crowley was annoyed by Prof. Gates’ words and didn’t want to appear weak as a Sgt. in front of the other officers. He therefore acted more like the top dog in a dog pack and bit Prof. Gates’ who was alledgedly acting like an uppity overeducated and arrogant nerd who did not show the proper “respect” to an officer. The “teachable moment” should be in regards to constitutional rights and the fact that it is unlawful to arrest someone simply because they are insulting an officer.

Yes the public doesn’t always give officers the respect they deserve for putting their lives on the line every day and yes racial profiling still exists, however, I don’t believe these two issues have much to do with this case. Talk about these topics appear to me simply to be red herrings that the media are using to sensationalize this case, at the expense of the real teachable moment..

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