By Kellene Bishop
Perhaps some of you believe you understand the distress a person feels watching their family and friends take no control over their lives in being better prepared. Well, for the purposes of today’s topic, take that distress and multiply it by ten and then you’ll know how I feel when I watch my friends, family, and associates ignore the most critical fundamental of preparedness—that which makes all of the 10 Principles of Preparedness relevant. The scary news is, if I were to assess a “National Threat Advisory” level in acknowledgment of this ignorance, I’d give it a level RED—as in “Severe risk of terrorists attack.” Oh, and by the way, most people don’t see this particular threat coming at them even when it’s right under their nose.
So, what danger is lurking around us so boldly that the otherwise “panic free preparedness pro” would come right out and label it as an imminent threat? Well, that would be our complete and utter lack of understanding of the laws around us, and the subsequent decay of freedom as a result of that ignorance. You see, our level of preparedness is directly linked to the level of Freedom we presently enjoy. As such, Freedom is what determines just how prepared we can be. Freedom is what determines whether or not we are free to pray for spiritual guidance to help us be better aware and prepared. Freedom is what allows us to make our own decisions on what and how we spend our money in the interest of tougher times. Freedom is what allows me the platform on which I can try to help educate others in matters of preparedness. And Freedom is what allows this crazy gal to put mineral oil on her eggs, wax on her cheese, and bottle her own butter if she darn well feels like it. *grin*
Last week I became quite alarmed as I watched a news article which highlighted the opinion that the Utah court systems are considered to better resemble the “Wild, Wild West” of justice as of late—not the environment of decorum that we’d expect. In the news article, three persons were highlighted as having been “victims” of a justice system gone greedy. Two of the persons unexpectedly spent time in jail—much to their shock of family and friends who were wondering where they were—and one gal felt as if she was being told that she only had a choice of pleading guilty or no contest; she didn’t know she had the right to plead not guilty. The alarming component of this story was that it was obvious to me that NONE of this stress had to become a part of their lives if they had just known and asserted their rights to freedom at the very beginning of their ordeals.
The first common sense approach I would always invoke in such a situation is to always have someone with me as a witness when dealing with the court or its representatives. It’s NEVER a good idea to go to any criminal court hearing alone—especially when there are no cameras or audio recordings to keep everyone honest. It certainly is a person’s right to have other’s present at their hearings.
Secondly, remember that we are all entitled to a “trial by jury” for any criminal accusation. As such, one of the first things any one of these persons should have done when first confronted with a criminal charge—regardless of how anti-climatic such a charge is—is to immediately file for a notice of DEMAND for a Trial By Jury with the court. I don’t need to know all of the details of these person’s cases to know that they wouldn’t have ended up in jail or been left feeling helpless if they had that simple little bit of law taught to them at some point in their life. The reason being is simple; if a Demand for a Trial by Jury was filed with the court, the city’s prosecuting attorney doesn’t want to work that hard to win a $90 fine traffic case or even a $700 business license matter. The “profit” is only valuable if it can be achieved with minimum effort. Depositions, paperwork out the wazzoo, and the hassle of orchestrating the research by paralegals and interns easily makes the process of simply getting ready for a jury trial a costly one when chasing after such a relatively small sum. Additionally, no educated prosecuting attorney would want such a case to go to a jury because jury members are inherently sympathetic on such everyday occurrence matters, right? We’re not talking embezzlement or a violent crime here. I’m telling you, the harsh reality is that no one ever accepted a job as a prosecuting attorney because they wanted to work harder. Thanks to our apathy, such a position is full of rote sentences and procedures day in and day out—to the point that they will avoid having to work for their money at all costs. You’re with me so far, right? As a result of all of this common knowledge, when confronted with a person who knows their right to a jury trial, the prosecutor is most likely to bring a little $90 or even $700 offense down to an infraction—which is then no longer a criminal issue which merits jail time–translation, no one goes to JAIL! (Think about it. Have you ever heard of a jury trial for a speeding ticket?)
As a part of some research I’ve been doing lately, I joined my husband in a “justice court” a few weeks ago. During this little field trip I was stunned as I watched individuals plead “guilty” time and time again in exchange for a plea deal in which they would simply pay a huge fine and thus avoid jail time. As I heard the judge say “if you fail to pay the fine you will go to jail for the duration of X amount of time.” Wait, what? I thought we didn’t believe in a debtor’s prison and yet I’m hearing a judge tell one defendant after another that they are receiving a waiver of jail time in exchange for a fine, and that if they fail to pay such a fine they will go to jail. Now I’m not attorney (just surrounded by them in my family) but that sure sounds like a debtor prison scenario to me. In fact, this abuse of power is so commonly done in our court systems that a state court was recently thrown into a bit of a dither when my father recently had the gall to challenge a decision based on this very issue. The court was attempting to hold his client in contempt for not yet being able to pay some guardian ad litem fees, and in consequence of his clients inability to pay, she was threatened with jail time. My father accurately pointed out that the case involved with said fees was a CIVIL action case and as such, the State Constitution specifically grants protection of no threat of jail as the result of an unpaid civil fine. My point being, it’s far too easy to get rattled and frightened when we carry on our lives without having some semblance of an understanding of the laws around us. It’s too easy for someone to bully us into believing that we’re going to get in trouble for this or that, and I’m seeing such bullying increase significantly in our nation—specifically in the last year. As such, I see a conflict with a person believing in being better prepared for what challenges may come and yet ignore the reality of an imminent threat that could negate any foundation of self-reliance, let alone all of the time and effort involved of becoming more self-reliant.
I feel this particular topic requires a couple more real-life examples…
Tonight I spoke with a friend of mine who was understandably frazzled. She had recently given a speech for a Toastmaster’s event in which she highlighted that she has elected to homeschool her children. For some unknown reason, someone listening to her speech felt that such a “radical” mode of education constituted my friend as being a threat to the well-being and safety of her own children. As such this person phoned in a complaint to one of the most unchecked divisions of our state governments—Child Protective Services. CPS contacted my friend (via a business card left on her doorstep) and other than that, the only other thing that transpired was my friend making a call (with another friend as witness) to the CPS representatives voicemail and offering to provide any necessary information they might require to settle this matter. She made this call without any formal issue being raised with her from CPS! And the only advice she got from friends around her was to cooperate as best as you can and nothing will happen to you (Geesh, sounds like a line from a Godfather movie). This woman has no idea what CPS formally wants with her, and unfortunately she didn’t know what her rights were in this matter either. But as a result of what MIGHT happen, this woman hasn’t slept, eaten, or had a calm moment since this whole thing started—all because she’s read and heard of all of the other folks who’ve been bullied by such a division (case in point, the Jackson family in New Jersey going on right now). Well, you can imagine a very different attitude from me when I talked to her; when I heard of her plight I couldn’t help but channel what my father would have to say. “Oh, “HORSE FEATHERS!”, I said when I heard of her calling the CPS rep back and leaving a voicemail message. It took my husband less than 10 minutes to talk with my friend, and then less than another 20 minutes to do a modest amount of research to discover that the laws in this mother’s state were totally in favor of her homeschooling her children and that she should have no reason to fear. Her peace of mind was right there in black and white. Just because she felt threatened by potential consequences (thanks to the lamestream media giving so much coverage to the horror stories of times past) she admittedly came completely unglued. In addition to pointing her in the direction of the laws and statutes which protect her, she was also reminded of some common sense steps to take when/if she ever does formally hear from the CPS representative. As a result, I had the pleasure of speaking to a much more calm friend who’s now probably willing to join me as a member of the “Kellene’s Husband Rocks” Club (Yes, we’re still accepting other applications for membership *grin*) and yet the only thing that’s changed between today and when this whole mess got started is that she got informed. Remember, I always say there are no victims, only volunteers. Well this is just one more example as to why I believe that so firmly. Perhaps if she knew some of these valuable pieces of rights and freedoms, she may have presented her speech in such a way that wouldn’t have caused a paranoid knucklehead to call CPS. In fact, perhaps there could have been an opportunity during her speech to create a more enlightened paranoid knucklehead today. Who knows? But I think we can all see how a little bit of knowledge can go a long way in delivering peace of mind.
Do we believe in peace in preparedness or don’t we? If a little bit of knowledge can be such a boon to a frightened mother, a business owner, an unemployed single dad, teenage mother, etc. don’t you think such knowledge would be important for each of us to better endure the challenges that will undoubtedly continue to come our way?
Several years ago, I had an employee who got herself in some big trouble with the law. Her husband had just been sent to prison for 15 years and the prosecution was coming after her next for one of the most horrid crimes I believe any woman could be accused of. When my husband showed up to testify on behalf the prosecution (because that’s who required him to be there), needless to say she was a bit bent out of shape to see her boss there, ready to unravel some of the lies she had perpetuated in her defense. It’s no surprise then to note that after this instance she didn’t work for us any longer and her revenge took a very meticulous path from there, to the point that she called the FBI and filed a formal complaint with a bunch of hooey right out of a Fox Channel Series. (Why don’t FBI persons actually investigate the informants first before acting on some crazy X-File kind of accusations?) Now, I say “hooey” but the fact of the matter is, you can be Mother Theresa, and if someone says the FBI is checking on you, it’s enough to get your nerves rattled—well, me at least. But my husband was completely unfazed by this. He knew what our rights were. He knew what the law was and more importantly he knew that we had done nothing improper. That little bit of knowledge completely turned the tables on the whole emotional makeup of that event for me. Rather than being afraid and waiting for the proverbial knock on the door, we contacted the FBI and invited them to come and speak with us. No further action was warranted by them, and we slept peacefully. A similar event took place over the about three years ago. We had filed our taxes in accordance to federal law, but someone had attempted to make things “interesting” for us by attempting to discredit how we had filed. This time I had the benefit of lessons learned. Once again, knowledge was our most critical preparation for such a time. After no less than four different in-house audits, all was determined to be well by the IRS much as we knew it would be since we complied with every letter of the law and thus had claim on the freedom which is guaranteed to us as a result. We still sleep peacefully and haven’t fretted one single moment on April 15th for years.
Now before someone smart decides to warn me about providing legal advice, let me share one other little tidbit with you. Attorneys do not have a monopoly on helping people; and I’m no more sharing legal advice right now than if I were to read to the passenger in my car the contents of a posted speed limit sign. When I hear that kind of rhetoric in the name of caution, I can’t help but think about the horrible time in our world’s history in which it was considered a sin, punishable by DEATH, if anyone other than a sanctioned member of the King’s Church were to read or utter words from the Bible. Sure, I suspect that prosecuting attorneys would love it if they were never mistaken and never challenged. But that’s simply not in the make-up of my DNA and I’m certain if you’re a regular reader of this site, it’s not in your make-up either. What I’m sharing today is simply the content from our own laws, state and federal constitutions, Declaration of Independence, etc. And I’m begging all of my fellowmen to make these empowering words an important part of our mental hard drives, because when we forget them, then they forget us and no longer stand by us to protect us. It’s an unpleasant reality that law enforcement and government officials will overstep their bounds anytime they get a chance to do so. In fact, LEOs are specifically upheld in their right to lie to a defendant in order to get a confession or at least valuable information. In spite of the Constitution being very clear in its intent to LIMIT the influence of government in our everyday lives, we’re witnessing all too often government officials attempting to expand their influence in our lives and even attempting to use a very clear U.S. Constitution to justify it. But to me, that scenario is just as important to prepare for as is a financial collapse, an earthquake, or even the death of my spouse. I don’t believe that anyone can have a self-reliant life and be ignorant of their inalienable rights and freedoms.
I hope you’re getting a better picture of the moral of today’s article. Freedoms only go away when we ignore them, forget them, or hold them as irrelevant. But the opposite posture—knowledge, awareness, and being determined to uphold those freedoms brings about a world of preparedness that I’d like to see in everybody’s life—peace. Genuine peace.
While there may be a lot that’s not right with our nation, I believe we can still have a hope that our Founding Fathers did more to protect us than we may realize at present. But I promise you that if you will make obtaining this kind of knowledge a part of your preparedness efforts, you will find that pot at the end of the rainbow to be just as wonderful as they intended it to be.