Article by John Griffing,

When one thinks of secret trials and kangaroo courts, one thing that comes to mind are the illegal asset seizures in Russia by corrupt judges and government officials, where the victims end up physically beaten, imprisoned, and too often–murdered.

American-Russian business owner Bill Browder made headlines when president Putin and corrupt Russian law enforcement officials fabricated criminal accusations against him in order to fraudulently expropriate over $200 million from Browder’s business and allegedly murdered the company’s tax accountant when he attempted to blow the whistle on the government perpetrators.  

Similarly Russian business owners Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, who were imprisoned in what human rights groups call a “staged trial for political purposes”, during which President Putin announced their guilt before any verdict.  Here again, corrupt Russian government officials illegally seized millions of dollars to line their own pockets, and when the victim complains, he was severely punished.

Incredibly, people are beginning to equate the American justice system to that of Russia, as similar instances of kangaroo court proceedings have begun to surface at home. Last year, a federal court in Virginia, in secret consultation with government agents, issued orders to seize access to 400,000 email accounts serviced by an American technology entrepreneur, Ladar Levison. Levison was threatened with jail if he did not immediately turn over all of  his customers’ private information to the government, without allowing Levison the opportunity to hire counsel.

And recently, in a secret off-the record proceeding, a United States federal court placed an American inventor into a “civil lockdown”, instantly stripping him of his civil rights and all of his assets in violation of Constitutional safeguards.  This entrepreneur, Jeff Baron, has been living in, what one legal scholar called, an unprecedented “human receivership” for over three years, and is the subject of what is apparently a test case for a novel method of property seizure in the United States.

Baron’s saga began after he invented a successful internet technology and establishing a philanthropic trust and found himself in a civil lawsuit with a business partner who had embezzled a great deal of money. As officers of the court discovered that Baron’s invention was worth a lot of money and his health was failing, they crafted the “human receivership” device to seize all of his assets, in doing so, manipulated court records to create the illusion that the procedure was done lawfully.  As part of the novel “human receivership”, Baron was forbidden from hiring counsel and brutally extorted him to refrain from challenging the actions taken against him.  The court records in this case show that officers of the court deceptively altered the documents, apparently as propaganda and to cover-up the ordeal. In stripping Baron of his civil rights, the judge even abrogated his constitutional right to a trial.

As if that wasn’t enough, In Baron’s case, the court officers used Baron’s seized money to not only keep him in this novel state of civil imprisonment, without even an accusation of a crime, but also used Baron’s money to effectuate an aggressive scheme to vilify him in the eyes of the courts and public.  Even more, the court officers deemed that Baron’s attorney-client privilege no longer existed, so they obtained full rights to all of Baron’s communications with his prior counsel.

As clearly unlawful as this practice is, neither Congress nor the President have signaled that they intend to take any steps to curtail its use.

While perhaps not yet having reached the prevalence of dishonesty seen in some of the world’s most notoriously corrupt regimes, these actions taken by our judicial system raise serious concerns about the deteriorating state of freedom and justice in the United States. 

In the prophetic words of President John Kennedy   “We are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and secret proceedings  We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it”.  Have our leaders of today forgotten about the most fundamental precepts upon which our society was built? 

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