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David Justice deserves a medal, not prison

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Dear Editor:

On Tuesday July 20, in a packed courtroom David Justice was sentenced after an earlier jury found him guilty of removing an illegal barrier erected across Cushman Creek road by the U.S. federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM). He freely admits the action assisted by 22 other like-minded citizens. While the BLM may own the land, the barrier it constructed was illegal because, uncontested, the state of Colorado owns the Cushman creek road right of way. Therefore the BLM had no more right to construct a barrier across that historic road than you or I would or the BLM would to legally build a barrier across Interstate 70 as it crosses BLM land.

The judge started out with a long tirade on "other" legal means to right this wrong. From personal experience and involvement I know that short of this action, there were no other legal means! David has protested the illegal closing of state roads (guaranteed by historic U.S. law RS2477 and FLPMA) on BLM lands over and over to no avail as all legal means have been blocked. Removing this barrier was no more of a crime than unblocking Interstate 70 as it crosses BLM lands should some lunatic try to block it even if that lunatic were the BLM. But even at this late date Judge Blackburn could have satisfied his own admonition to Mr. Justice by acknowledging Colorado's rightful jurisdiction as the owner of the right of way. Therefore if there really were a crime in removing this barrier, it would be up to the state court to handle it, not Judge Blackburn any more than you or I or a judge from some foreign country.

Lacking jurisdiction, the charges should have been dismissed by Blackburn and the BLM referred to state court if they really felt they still had a case. But he did the exact opposite. In another case of federal overreach he not only didn't acknowledge his lack of jurisdiction but immediately sentenced David to 30 days in a federal prison. Due to lack of space he was transferred to the Mesa County Jail allowing no time for David to meet the 14-day deadline to appeal his illegal sentence to the 10th District Court on jurisdiction grounds. I called the jail at 244-3500 and found that they do not afford "prisoners" access to laptops or tablets or any other electronic means to access forms and requirements to file an appeal nor do they even allow visiting except Tuesday and Thursday for 20 minutes. Since an appeal can't be submitted until sentenced, courts usually suspend the sentence for 15 days especially if the person is representing himself as David is. So now this judge has further compounded the situation by denying David due process.

Listen folks this is tantamount to the reason this country was founded in the first place as explained in the Declaration of Independence which declares that the purpose of government is to protect our inalienable rights not trample them and that government is the servant of the people not their master. It even states that when a government becomes oppressive to these ends, it is the people's right and their duty and that includes you and me, to remove it either by the ballot box or otherwise as our founders did by throwing the British out. The line needs to be drawn. The BLM and Forest Service try to sneak around state ownership of the right of way by things like "travel plans." I used to attend those meetings where recommendations not to restrict access were routinely ignored as what was being sought was legitimacy not advice. All I can say is we are teetering on the same fascism Nazi Germany experienced in World War II. Our country has dumbed down so far that half the people think defending the Constitution and limited government is controversial. Other than contacting your public "servants" I wish I knew what to do. David should have been awarded a medal for bringing these abuses to light, not, as Judge Blackburn stated, made an example for others by being jailed and denied his constitutional rights. This is what tyrannies do, not us! More and more I am just so ashamed of the dangerous actions and overreach of our government including the lack of respect for the law by this judge. Please take some action to let your representatives know how you feel and see if they can do anything to right this wrong.

Mike Mason

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