Deputy Sheriff Takes a Spiritual Bust to the Chops
By Barry Smith
I was incarcerated in the Logan County Jail here in Colorado. I had
been placed in solitary confinement and was totally dependant upon the
deputies for showers, laundry, delivery of court paperwork to the courts and
phone use. One day a deputy named Ryan, who was in favor of prisoners
rights, and worked really hard to do his job correctly, comes up to my cell
and tells me, "Barry, I overheard the other deputies saying that as long as
you are going to be suing the sheriff that they aren't going to be doing
anything for you." I asked him why he thought that was, to which he
replied, "I guess the power of the pen strikes fear in the hearts of men."
One deputy did tell me, "Barry, the thing about you is that you are
intimidating and you are very good at it."
Anyway, Ryan's comment caused me to start keeping a log. The log
included when I asked which deputy to do what and when, if ever, they
responded. After keeping this log for about two days the log pointed to a
deputy named Ron as never carrying out any of my requests.
I wrote some motions and laid them up on the little shelf in my door
for a deputy to pick up, make copies of, and deliver to the court and the
prosecutor. As fate would have it, Deputy Ron was the first deputy by that
morning. I asked him to make copies of my motions and deliver them to the
court. He responded by saying, "No, I'm not going to do it. I'm not going
to bother the court. Get someone else to be your errand boy!" He then
promptly when on his way without taking my motions.
I sat down in my cell and wrote the following:
Ron: This is a good faith notice to you regarding clearly
established law. In Fillmore v. Ordonez (D. Kan.) The court denied the
plaintiff relief because he was unable to specifically name the deputy who
violated his rights. The court held that the deputy who committed the wrong
was personally liable for rights violations and not the sheriff.
"Motives are complex and difficult to prove. As a result,
in certain cases in which action detrimental to the [Plaintiff] has been
taken after the exercise of a legal right, the court has found it necessary
to "presume" and improper vindictive motive . . . a reasonable likelihood of
vindictiveness must exhist." U.S. v. Goodwin, 457 U.S. 368, 373 (1982).
"[For] an agent of the state to pursue a course of action
whose objective is to penalize a persons reliance on his legal rights is
'patently unconstitutional.'" Bodenkircher v. Hayes, 434 U.S. 357, 363.
Jail guard may not retaliate against jail house lawyers for
their litigation activities. Gibbs v. Hopkins, 10 F.3d 373, 379 (6th Cir.
1993); Adams v. James, 784 F.2d 1880-82; Buise v. Hadkins, 584 F.2d 227-31;
Vaughn v. Trotter, 516 F.Supp. 886, 893-99 (M.D.Tenn. 1980); Wetmore v.
Fields, 458 F. Supp. @ 1145. And they may not erect barriers that impede
the right of access to the courts. Carper v. Deland, 54 F.3d 613, 617 (10th
Just because I'm in protective custody @ my own request
doesn't mean I should be punished or sanctioned. See Sweet v. S. Carolina
Dept. Corrections, 529 F.2d 854 (4th Cir. 1975; Little v. Walker, 552 F.2d
193 (7th Cir. 1977).
Ron, just like Santa, I'm going to be making a list and
checking it twice, I'm going to find out whose naughty or nice. You've
always been gruff, uncooperative and surely, and to do so is your
prerogative. However, today, when you refused to take court paperwork to
the courts stating that you were not my "errand boy" and to "find someone
else" you probably unknowingly crossed a line where my rights are involved.
I know you don't make that much money. I also know that the scripture says,
"If a brother trespass against you, go to him alone." So, I'm not giving
this to the sheriff and am giving you an opportunity to change your attitude
and ways. Any previous transgressions are forgiven. Barry Lynn, Smyth
The next time Ron came around on his rounds I called out, "Ron, this
is for you." I gave it to him, he read it briefly, and then threw it back
through the slot on my door saying, "F**k you!" Oops, he just violated jail
rules that say that there is to be no profanity used in the jail.
I sat down and wrote a note to the sheriff that said, "Sheriff, I
gave this to Ron and his was response was 'F**k you!' and to throw it back
at me." I attached the constructive notice to the note and sent it down to
the sheriff via another deputy. Soon the sheriff's response came back to
me. He said, "If he said this, I'll talk to him."
I could just imagine the sheriff's conversation with Ron. "Ron, you
know that this guy knows how to litigate. You refuse to take his court
paperwork to the court, which is a rights violation that he could be suing
you for, and then to make matters worse, he offers to forgive you and you
throw the very document he offered you forgiveness on back at him and tell
him 'f**k you!'" You know Ron, that's not very smart, you better figure out
some way to fix this. And by the way, from now on if he needs papers copied
and delivered to the court you take care of it."
Every time I saw Ron for the next few days he acted very sheepish,
like he didn't know what to do. Then He became like my friend. He was real
friendly. He'd come up and let me out of my cell and allowed me the run of
the jail. I was in the sheriff's offices trimming my beard and using the
phone. He'd take me for showers and laundry. He basically gave me trustee
status which was interesting considering that the jail didn't have a trustee
program. One day he was talking to me while I was taking a shower and said,
"I don't get it. Trooper Ballas (the trooper who arrested and falsely
charged me) is a good guy. You seem like a good guy. Why would Ballas get
a hard-on for you?" I replied, "How about because he arrested me without
probable cause and had to fabricate a story to cover up his lack of probable
cause." He says, "Oh," sort of like that sort of thing happens all the
time. I thought this story would prove edifying and show how to use
Biblical principals to win your fellow man. By the time I left the jail
after 82 days I don't think there was a law enforcement officer in the jail
that believed I was guilty.
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