Criticism of Gov't Causes Arrest
- J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California June 18, 2002Criticism of Local GovernmentCauses Arrest and Media Frenzy!JAILers are active throughout the country seeking accountability of our government. Below is a report on Georgia JAILer David Milum, who, by exposing local government corruption, found a warrant issued for his arrest, and was thrown in jail. Fortunately, this event has developed into a media frenzy. This media coverage has exacerbated the situation of local officials wanting to keep this issue silent.First, you will read a personal letter from Milum to J.A.I.L, followed by three separate newspaper articles, one from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and two from the Forsyth County News about this event, with promises of more publicity to follow. The news coverage is driving the local establishment crazy. And now the story is even being placed all over the internet. -Ron Branson (Editor)
Yes indeed, several of us were arrested for exercising our free speech in Forsyth County, Ga.
I made the mistake of speaking out against criminal activities within the Solicitor's office in cooperation with several judges.
Judges don't like us meddling in their kingdom, Ron! The Chief Magistrate Judge said on the record that I had no right to write letters of redress to the Solicitor. But of course being schooled in the proper J.A.I.L. etiquette, I challenged him on the record.
Boy o' Boy, he went berserk! Now the judges have altered the audio tapes to erase statements and destroy evidence.
After the bogus arrest and jailing, I filed a habeas corpus and took the two magistrates judges involved to court. The newspaper accounts below touch on some of the activities we have been involved in. So far, we have documented scores of criminal activities perpetrated by our elected officials and the judges here. The story continues today.
Wish us luck --we need it!! As a matter of truthful fact, I was not involved in any heated confrontation mentioned in the related news stories below. It was a set-up by the commissioner. The security videos I got by filing open records requests, prove it! They do not know what to do when we stick to our convictions and principles, Ron.David MilumMember Georgia J.A.I.LArrests in Forsyth County raise questions of free speech, politicsBy Richard Whitt
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer
Residents of Forsyth County who speak out against their government officials may do so at their peril. Two political activists, David Milum and Terrance Sweeney, have been arrested -- and one was jailed overnight -- for alleged aggressive behavior toward county officials. On April 18, David Milum was sitting in the kitchen of his house on Jot Em Down Road when two deputies walked in, without knocking, he says, and arrested him on a "good behavior" warrant.
Milum's offense? He had frightened County Commissioner Marcie Kreager during a conversation outside the county administration building the previous day. He didn't threaten her. He didn't touch her. He just scared her. Kreager immediately reported the incident to a Forsyth County deputy who instructed her on how to get a "good behavior" warrant. Good behavior warrants, mostly used to prevent domestic violence, do not allege criminal acts.
Forsyth Magistrate Barbara Cole issued the warrant based on Kreager's story and ordered Milum's arrest. At a hearing the following day, Magistrate Randall Meincke, ordered Milum to stay away from Kreager, her home and business. Milum and his supporters believe his jailing was improper since he wasn't actually charged with a crime. Kreager and Milum have somewhat different stories about what happened that day outside the county administration building. They agree that Milum made no verbal threats or gestures. To Milum, the whole affair is a thinly veiled retaliation for his criticism of government officials. "It was a setup," said Milum. "They want me to stay out of the courthouse."
Milum and Sweeney are among a group of residents who believe government in the fast-growing metro county is corrupt. Over the past couple of years, they and other activists have pried into what they consider questionable zoning, illegal land deals and ethics lapses. They generally have made pests of themselves at the courthouse. All, Milum says, was done in the public's interest to ferret out corruption. "This," Milum said of his arrest, "was retaliatory." The controversy has raged in the local newspaper and has even spilled over into cyberspace, where critics have a Web site devoted to county government-bashing.(www.forsythcountyfacts.com)
Milum said he went to the county office on April 17 to talk with the zoning administrator about what he considered an improper zoning of property owned by County Solicitor Leslie Abernathy. He said Kreager approached him and asked why he was in the employees' smoking shed outside the administration building. Milum said he began telling her about the zoning. At that point, he said, Kreager, became agitated and began yelling, "You're stalking me. You stalk me everywhere I go. Get back!" "It scared me," said the burly Milum. Kreager insists that Milum approached her and in a loud and intimidating voice said he had evidence that would put someone in prison. "I did indeed feel threatened," she said. "His tone. His mannerism. I asked him to step back several times, and he didn't. He kept getting close to me. He acted like it made him mad that I asked him to step back.
"I'm sorry," Kreager continued, fighting back tears. "You don't have any idea how this man frightens me." This wasn't the first time Kreager called for police protection, though. Last year she called for a sheriff's escort to avoid a group of Chestattee residents who had gathered at the administration building in protest of a landfill in their community, according to Sheriff Ted Paxton. The group led, by R. Gray Smith, was holding a news conference, Paxton said. "As I recall, she [Kreager] was coming to the building," Paxton said. "She was fearful of a confrontation because the situation had gotten heated."
As for Milum's spending a night in jail, Kreager said she had nothing to do with that. "His issue is with the court system," Kreager said. Kreager said she has been disappointed with news coverage of the incident. "It concerns me that he was portrayed as the victim," she said. "I'm the victim."
The Sweeney case grew from a March 7 incident at a Forsyth County Republican Party meeting. Sweeney was passing out leaflets claiming he had evidence that several county officials conspired to steal $4 million in county funds in a land deal. Sweeney and Chief Voter Registrar Gary Smith got into in a confrontation that was witnessed by several people, including County Commission Chairman John Kieffer.
Smith took out a criminal arrest warrant accusing Sweeney of threatening to "knock my block off." Sweeney denies making any such threats. Gray Smith, who isn't related to Gary Smith, also witnessed the incident. He said it was instigated by Gary Smith. At an April 9 hearing, Cole issued a disorderly conduct warrant against Sweeney. Then, after reading Sweeney's leaflet, she issued a warrant accusing him of criminal defamation against Kieffer. Kieffer says he didn't ask for the defamation warrant, but says he agreed to sign it after Cole asked him if he would be willing to do so. "It kind of put me on the spot," he said. "I didn't have any interest in doing this." A day or two later, Cole telephoned to say she was withdrawing the defamation charge, Kieffer said. Kieffer thinks Sweeney's and Milum's behavior crossed the line.
"That makes me nervous," said Kieffer. "I don't have any problem with people exercising their free speech. It's when they go beyond it that concerns me."April 21, 2002 Second activist arrested in countyBy Colby Jones, Staff Writer Forsyth County News
For the second time in as many weeks, an outspoken critic of the Forsyth County government has been arrested based on a complaint from a county commissioner. Longtime county resident and political activist David Milum was jailed Thursday night after Commissioner Marcie Kreager informed the countys chief magistrate that Milum intimidated her the previous day during a tirade outside the Forsyth County Administration Building. His arrest signals increasing friction between board members and those who criticize their actions. On April 9, political activist Terence Sweeney, 46, was arrested for allegedly intimidating the countys elections supervisor and defaming Commission Chairman John Kieffer in a flyer that Sweeney distributed at a meeting of the Forsyth County Republican Party.
In the latest episode, Kreager summoned deputies to the scene immediately after the 2:40 p.m. encounter Wednesday. The officers took a report, found no evidence to justify an arrest and referred the commissioner to magistrate court if she elected to pursue prosecution.
Kreager, who said the confrontation left her frightened for her safety, said she asked advice from one of the countys staff attorneys and a superior court judge. Both advised her that magistrate court was the proper venue for her to lodge a complaint. The following day, Kreager met with Chief Magistrate Barbara Cole and presented her with a sworn statement. Cole then ordered sheriffs deputies to arrest Milum. In ordering the arrest, Cole cited an obscure state law that allows judges to set a bond for an individual if they believe he poses an immediate threat to another person.
It is known in legal circles as a "good behavior" warrant as it is designed to ensure the persons good conduct for up to 60 days. The warrant, however, does not charge Milum with a crime and puzzled members of the sheriffs warrant division when Cole asked them to arrest Milum late Thursday night.
"Ive been in law enforcement for 30-plus years and have never seen or served a good behavior warrant," said Sheriff Ted Paxton. Milum, who frequently criticizes the actions of county officials, spent the night behind bars and appeared before Cole for a first-appearance hearing on Friday afternoon. He acknowledged he understood the warrant, but said little else during the hearing. Cole set his bond at $2,500, ordered him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation at his own expense within two weeks and to stay away from Kreager. Milum posted bond and was released from custody following the hearing.
During a phone interview Friday morning, Kreager described the following chain of events leading to the arrest: She said she was standing outside the administration building on Wednesday afternoon when Milum and three county employees walked inside the building. Milum said hello to the commissioner, but returned 30 seconds later and approached her. Standing about two feet away from her, Milum began discussing illegal activities by public officials in the county and said he possessed enough evidence to have another public official arrested. She said Milum appeared irritated when she showed no interest in what he had to say and asked him to step away from her. "His tone became angry at this point. He stated he was on county property and I was a county commissioner and that he could say what he wanted to me on county property. I again asked him to step back," Kreager wrote in her sworn statement to the magistrate. When Milum ignored her request to step back a second time, Kreager said she became fearful for her safety and yelled for help. "He got this very angry look on his face," Kreager said. "I thought 'What is this Looney Toon going to do to me?'" Milum then hurried into the administration building, and Kreager said she instructed employees in the engineering department to contact the sheriffs office.
In an interview after being released from jail, Milum said it was Kreager who approached him outside the administration building, not vice-versa. He said the commissioner questioned him about why he was in the designated smoking area for county employees, then began to scream for help for no apparent reason. He said he was seven or eight not two feet away from her. He suspects Kreager, who represents him and other home owners in district four, conspired with other officials to have him arrested. The two county employees listed as witnesses on the sheriffs report said they apparently walked into the building before Kreager and Milum began talking. "He was not in a mad mood. He was pleasant and smiling," said Alisa Garner.
Kreager, on the other hand, sees Milum as a threat. She noted he has called her at home four times in the past year to discuss his different conspiracy theories about local government. She said he stopped calling after she informed him that she was recording the conversations. When asked whether the public should feel comfortable talking with their elected officials, Kreager said she freely speaks with residents about issues, whether she meets them at the administration building, in the grocery store or walking down the street. But she feels Milum violated the rules of political discourse when he refused to back away from her and stop yelling. She said she has become concerned for her familys safety. "This guy seems to have an out-and-out vendetta against anybody who is elected," she said.
Milum, meanwhile, has challenged Kreager to take a lie detector test with him to settle what happened outside the administration building. He suspects commissioners are nervous about what evidence he and other critics possess about the inner workings of county government. He also believes every resident should be alarmed about the chilling effect that their public officials are having on free speech by going after those who challenge them.
"We have struck a nerve and they know it," Milum said. "You cant speak your opinion or you will get arrested."April 30, 2002
Activist ordered to avoid commissioner
By Alton Bridges and Colby Jones,Staff Writers Forsyth County News
A local political activist must stay away from District 4 Commissioner Marcie Kreager for the next two months or risk being arrested. Assistant Magistrate Randall Meincke on Thursday afternoon extended a $2,500 bond for David Milum to ensure his "good behavior" toward the commissioner for 60 days. As part of his bond conditions, Milum is required to have no contact with Kreager and to undergo a psychological examination at his own expense. The magistrates ruling followed a lengthy hearing that pitted the word of Milum against that of Kreager regarding an April 17 encounter between the two outside the Forsyth County Administration Building.
Chief Magistrate Barbara Cole on April 18 ordered sheriffs deputies to arrest Milum because of the confrontation. The warrant issued by Cole does not charge Milum with a crime but requires him to post a bond ensuring his future good behavior. The purpose of the Thursday hearing was to determine whether Milum poses a risk to the commissioner and whether his bond should be extended. During the hearing, both Milum and Kreager testified they did not immediately recognize each other on the afternoon in question.
But their recollections of the encounter dramatically differed. During direct examination by her attorney, Joseph Homans, Kreager testified that Milum said hello, walked into the administration building and returned outside about 30 seconds later to where she was standing. She said Milum began to discuss what he perceived as illegal actions by another public official. His tone changed from friendly to agitated when she informed him it was improper for them to be discussing the matter, she said.
She testified she twice asked Milum to back away from her to no avail. Kreager said Milum ran into the administration building when she screamed for help. She then summoned sheriffs deputies to the scene. Deputies interviewed Milum that afternoon but did not make an arrest. Milum represented himself in court. He did not take the stand but had provided his recollection of the encounter in a previous statement to sheriffs deputies and an interview with the Forsyth County News. Milum has said he spoke with Kreager but never became angry or loud. He said he never refused to back away from the commissioner, and claimed Kreager began yelling for no apparent reason.
Three county employees testified at the hearing that Milum appeared friendly while they were talking with him near the administration building. None reported witnessing the encounter. In his closing argument, Milum said the magistrate court overstepped its authority by having him arrested and jailed.
"If we are going to have to go to jail, for Gods sake lets ensure somebody gets charged with a crime," he said. Kreagers attorney suggested Milum should bite his tongue. "Mr. Milum is a bully," Homans said. "He should be thankful he is not charged with a crime." Following his ruling, Meincke said another hearing will be held in magistrate court in two months to determine whether Milum poses a risk to Kreager and whether the bond should be extended again.
Milum, meanwhile, is in the process of hiring an attorney and currently has a motion pending in Forsyth County Superior Court. His motion requests an emergency hearing to decide whether his arrest and the actions taken against him by the magistrate are lawful.
A similar motion filed by another political activist, Terence Sweeney, is scheduled for May 8 before Superior Court Chief Judge Stan Gault. Sweeney was arrested April 9 for allegedly intimidating the countys election supervisor and defaming Commission Chairman John Kieffer in a flyer he distributed at a meeting of the Forsyth County Republican Party. The defamation charge was later dropped. Gault also ruled Sweeney does not have to undergo a psychological evaluation until he rules on the motion. Gault had not set a date for Milums hearing as of deadline Friday afternoon.
One of J.A.I.L.'s Virginia attorneys says, "There are cracks beginning to appear in the government's dam."J.A.I.L. is an acronym for Judicial Accountability Initiative Law
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