No Justice for the Politically-Incorrect
By Edgar J. Steele
July 2, 2002
Below is the text of a press release I sent out following a court hearing this morning which ends the long ordeal of the Christines in Grants Pass, Oregon.
Brian and Ruth have agreed to "plead out" to a single charge each of criminal mistreatment. This doesn't mean they "did it." On the contrary, they have agreed to this for three reasons:
1. To prevent any of their children being brought back to take the stand and testify against them as the Douglas County prosecutor had little Lydia do in the kidnapping trial we went through in May. When she gets older, the psychological trauma of realizing that it was her testimony that sent her parents to prison will be substantial. Even in the face of a system that has repeatedly brutalized them, the Christines have once again demonstrated what we have known all along: they are good parents.
2. Because, by preagreement, all the time the judge assessed will be "served" concurrent with the time they received in Douglas County. This means that the time sentenced is irrelevant. That they each have another felony on their record is also of little consequence, in the face of what has already been done to them.
3. After their experience with the Douglas County jury, the Christines rightfully did not trust either judge or jury to treat them properly this time, either. Can't say I blame them.
Yet another example of what has become a mantra for me: the politically-incorrect cannot get justice in America today.
Are you home schooling? Are you Christian? Are you vegetarian? Are you politically conservative (no, not the neocon kind)? Do you ever spank your children? Are you barely scraping by, financially? If you have young, white children and can answer yes to one or more of the above, you are seriously at risk from the child protective services agency in your state. Right and wrong has nothing to do with it.
I got a call last Saturday afternoon as I working in my study at home from the neighbor of a friend who lives just over the border in Washington State. Seems "someone" had phoned in an "anonymous" tip to the authorities about his children (he has four, aged 2 through 7). Fortunately, nobody was home when CPS came calling in the company of a sheriff's deputy. They left cards.
This fellow had heard of what could happen and was terrified. Seems he had a bit of a dispute going with a neighbor. Do the math.
Since no court had yet acquired jurisdiction over any member of his family (that typically comes once they trump up something with which to charge the parents), I was able to tell him the following: Put your children and as many of your important possessions as you can into your station wagon and leave the state before nightfall. Never come back. Have a friend pack and send the rest or have a yard sale. Hire a real estate agent to sell your house for you. Call in Monday morning and quit your job. Start a new life elsewhere.
Extreme? Not at all. Houses, friends and jobs are easy to find. Children are irreplaceable. Once you are in the "system," you stand a very real chance of ending up like Brian and Ruth Christine. Staying out of the system is, by far, the best solution.
Once CPS ["Child Protective Services"] comes calling, the only way to ensure you stay out of the system is to get out...right then. Usually, CPS will come by at least once before seeking any court orders. That will be your one chance to stay out of the system, by doing just what I told the hapless fellow above to do.
Once you are in the system (which can happen on the first visit, if you let them in the door), the only way out is to play by the rules. That was where Brian and Ruth went wrong.
If you are home when they come, never, never, never, never, never let them in the door without a warrant signed by a magistrate. Make them show it to you. Never talk to them. These cases are usually constructed out of the parents' own statements. Make them stand on the porch. Show them the kid through the window to demonstrate he or she is ok. Tell them to get a warrant before they come back again. Same drill, even if a cop is standing next to them. Do not believe anything they tell you - they must have a warrant to enter your home. When they leave, take no more than two hours to pack and get out. You must leave the state altogether and forever.
Once you are served with a warrant or you or any child is taken into custody, you are in the system (because you ignored the basic rule of getting out) and your only real hope is to get a lawyer well acquainted with CPS and the child-custody courts.
Remember these basic rules and you will be able to keep your children in an increasingly hostile and tyrannical America.
Please note that the Christine kidnapping trial will be televised by CourtTV, starting July 15, 2002 ( see press release, below, for details). They tend to broadcast these as though taking place right then, but without all the boring stuff. I (and others, I expect) will be providing some live commentary as the production goes along.
Please go to www.pclu.org and order one or more Christine trial T-shirts. We have 90 of them left, in sizes from small to extra large. We have reduced the price to $18 each, including shipping, in hopes that will clear them out. All proceeds go to defraying the cost of the pending appeal in Brian and Ruth's case.
CHRISTINE PLEA AGREEMENT
Press Release Immediate - 9:00 a.m., July 2, 2002
Contact: Edgar J. Steele, Attorney at Law
tel: (208) 265-4153 fax: (208) 265-5329
102 S. Fourth Ave., Suite C
Sandpoint, Idaho 83860
email: email@example.com (best contact method)
GRANTS PASS, OREGON - By telephone hearing this morning before George Neufeld, Judge of the Josephine County Circuit Court, Brian and Ruth Christine entered into a plea agreement on the original charges which led to their three oldest daughters being taken into custody by the State of Oregon. The Christines were speaking from the Oregon Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, Oregon.
Brian and Ruth Christine each pled to one count of Criminal Mistreatment I. Brian pled to an additional charge of Attempt to Elude, arising from an unrelated traffic stop by local authorities.
Each of the Christines received a 13-month sentence from Judge Neufeld, to run concurrent with the sentences received at a trial in Douglas County for their having taken their children at gunpoint from state officials in 2001 and left the state. A $605 fine was also imposed upon each of them. Brian Christine received an additional 30 days, also to run concurrent, on the charge of Eluding, with a fine of $105.
During the hearing, Edgar J. Steele, attorney for the Christines, stressed that the Christines were agreeing to the plea arrangement for two reasons only: First, and foremost, to spare any of their children having to endure any further hearings or trials; and, second, because it had been agreed that all time imposed would run concurrent with their present sentence.
Steele noted that the Christines were very disturbed by the State's having brought their oldest daughter, Lydia, age 6, to testify against them in the Douglas County trial. "Later on, Lydia will be scarred psychologically when she realizes that her testimony was instrumental in convicting her own parents. At all costs, we wish to prevent any recurrence of that spectacle or further damage to any of the Christine girls," said Steele.
After the hearing, Steele said, "Here they are, in prison, their kids taken away from them, and still their only concern is for their children's well being. You have to ask yourself what went on in this case, where the parents were accused of abusing their children because they were all skinny, [very thin] unlike the normal American fat kid, yet the state passes them from one foster home to the next, then forces them to testify against their own parents, despite being much too young to appreciate what they are doing, in a gross disregard for the best interests of these kids."
The Christine girls were taken originally following an anonymous phone call to Grants Pass authorities stating that one of the children looked emaciated. In fact, that child was just recovering from an extended bout with the flu. All the Christines were vegetarians, thus on the slim side, to begin with. The three girls were eventually adopted out to Ruth Christine's parents.
The Christines at first resisted the State's machinations when their children were taken, then relented and began to cooperate after six months saw no progress in regaining custody. Told by the State that it was no use and that it would seek to adopt them out anyway, the Christines were adjudged following a two-week trial in May of having taken their children from Oregon SCF officials at gunpoint.
"That's why Brian and Ruth will spend the next 12-1/2 and 7-1/2 years, respectively, of their lives in prison - for rescuing their own children from a rogue Oregon state agency," Steele commented directly following this morning's sentencing hearing.
Steele previously had been instrumental in keeping the couple's newest baby, Abbey Rose Christine, from being adopted out by Oregon along with their three oldest daughters, by appearing in a Montana court and persuading the judge to give the baby over to Brian's mother in a guardianship. Teri Christine lives in Indiana and has also been named guardian by an Indiana court of the couple's fifth daughter, Olivia.
"Oregon's SCF (the child services agency) was apoplectic after that decision in Montana," said Steele, "and vowed a scorched earth campaign against Brian and Ruth regarding their three oldest daughters, who had been returned to SCF when they were arrested in Montana while fleeing." That, together with the promise of a reasonable plea deal and the assurance that the three girls would be given to Ruth's parents for adoption, was what led the Christines to sign over their parental rights. "That so-called reasonable plea deal never did materialize, which is what led to the trial," said Steele.
Immediately upon Steele's reentry into the case, Oregon cut off all funding for public defenders, investigators and expert witnesses, without giving a reason. Steele is serving pro bono, meaning without pay.
Following their convictions of Robbery, Custodial Interference and Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle, Steele filed an appeal on the Robbery conviction. "That was the main conviction, on a so-called Measure-11 charge, which dictates a minimum prison sentence of 7-1/2 years. The Unauthorized Use was plenty and all that really applied," said Steele. "Brian used the state vehicle to drive his children the 2.1 miles to where his own car was parked, then left it with the keys in the ignition and the contents undisturbed. For that, both the Christines get 7-1/2 years for Robbery. That is outrageous and why this case is the poster child for why Measure 11 should be rescinded."
The two-week Christine kidnapping/robbery trial which took place in May of this year was videotaped at the request of all major networks. Court TV, seen on most cable and satellite services, has announced that the trial will be broadcast in its entirety on July 15 through 18, 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM.
Donations may be directed care of the Christines' attorney, Edgar Steele, to defray actual costs of the pending appeal.
Editor's note: Contact Edgar Steele at firstname.lastname@example.org to offer financial help.
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