As a quick recap, I ended the last post with the first efforts of Peg Allison, the Flathead County District Court Clerk, to obstruct my legal actions. As I explained, I filed for a default judgment on December 23, 2003, when well over twenty days had passed without any filed response from the City of Kalispell to my lawsuit. By law, any action that is not responded to is considered uncontested, which is to say that the responding party has no objection to the filed action. In the instant case, when I filed first a petition (on October 30, 2003) and then a complaint (on November 18, 2003), and no response was filed to these actions, by law a default judgment must be granted in favor of the pleading party. This is not a discretionary choice - the court is required by law to grant relief to a pleading party when no response is received from the defending party. And yet, Ms. Allison had begun to obstruct the cause of action in an effort to block the default judgment I had filed for.
But this goes beyond what I described in my last post. Simply put, I ran out of time before I could detail the whole scenario. But before I finish this part, let me back up just a moment to clarify the earlier events.
As I mentioned in my last post, I filed the initial petition against the City of Kalispell, Kalispell Police Department (KPD) and the Kalispell City Attorney's Office on October 30, 2003. This followed a face-to-face confrontation between myself and then-Chief of Police, Frank Garner, on October 28, 2003. I had been told that the police investigation was closed (which was, in fact, closed on September 4, 2003, though I was not informed until the first week of October, 2003), and had confirmed this through no less than five sources. Since my letters requesting production of the records of the investigation ignored, I had visited City Hall myself to request these documents. I first visited Richard Hickle of the City Attorney's Office, who claimed that the records could not be released for "confidentiality" purposes. After Mr. Hickle provided MCA statutes which he claimed set the restrictions for not releasing the records, I reviewed the same and found that they did not bar my rights to such records, though did set forth the requirement that I make the request through the agency holding the records. And so I went directly to the KPD.
When I went to the KPD's office, I was eventually referred to Mr. Garner (though he did not identify himself immediately). Mr. Garner stated very bluntly that he had no intention of releasing the records and, despite having verified through multiple sources, including CFS, the investigating officer, school counselors, the city's insurance agency, etc., that the case had been reported as closed, he suddenly insisted that the case had never been closed and that he was going to have the case sent to the county attorney with recommendations for prosecution. All because I wanted my records, and all because I had a pending claim against the KPD for their official misconduct. Clearly, Mr. Garner did not want me to have access to records that might incriminate his department. I later learned that in addition to his re-opening the KPD case, Mr, Garner called CFS to have their case re-opened this same day, as well.
One of the more interesting elements of this conversation was that Mr. Garner insisted that he did not have to turn over any files from an active case (his reason for re-opening the case to bar my request for records). I had had a copy of the actual law with me that day (MCA 2003 Section 44-5-214) which clearly did not permit such a distinction. When I tried to show him the law, he refused to look at it. When I asked him then under what authority he was using to bar my access to the files, he stated, "Under what authority? Because I say so. That's what authority!" Clearly, this action was not a legal one - it was outside the boundaries of law, and Mr. Garner was not going to be compelled to follow the law.
For the record, it was four months later that I was actually prosecuted - not because of Mr. Garner's recommendation on that day, but as a follow-up to what later happened with Ms. Allison.
After consulting with a civil rights attorney in Helena, MT, I filed a petition for production of the police records on October 30, 2003. This is the action that actually initiated my suit against Kalispell proper.
Out of time again, so I will conclude this Flashback on Monday. I am being loaned the use of a separate computer on Monday, too, so I expect to get a lot typed in that day.
Ciao for now.
Political Prisoner since 2004