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Joel Rosenberg: Injustice Anywhere

The facts are in, and it's now undeniable that Joel Rosenberg - "a Jew with a gun" - has been falsely arrested. The legal analysis is here. (And more here.) It's straight forward stuff that you don't need a law degree to understand. 

Which makes Joel's arrest all the more troubling.

Joel is unequivocally innocent. It's not even debatable. There is literally nothing to discuss. Read the analysis, and all you can say is, "Oh."

Joel was arrested maliciously by police. Joel went before a judge, who set bail at $100,000. The judge also revoked Rosenberg's concealed-carry permit.

Anyone with a law degree - or even anyone without - would only need five minutes with the warrant and statutes to realize the case is a false prosecution. Really, the law is not complicated.

When a man is clearly, undeniably, falsely arrested, what does that say about "justice" in the United States? When a judge sign a search warrant without reading it, and another set sets bail at an unfordable level, does it make sense to speak of an "independent judiciary"? Or are the Minnesota judges best understood as arms of the prosecution?

Consider the judge who oversaw Joel's arraignment. Five minutes of reviewing the case would have led to a dismissal. OK, maybe the judge doesn't have the power to dismiss the case under Minnesota law. (In some jurisdictions, judges at an arraignment only set bail.) The judge does, however, have the power to set bail at an affordable level.

Instead, the judge set bail at an unfordable level. Do you have $10,000 cash sitting around to pay a bondsman? (With bail, you must come up with 100% of the bail - in Joel's case, $100,000 - if you want a refund of your money. Otherwise, you pay 10% to a bondman, and the money is non-refundable.)

I couldn't write a check for ten grand today. And, frankly, I wouldn't - since that's ten grand that should go to lawyers and private investigators. See the trap of bail?

Being in jail harms Joel because he needs to be out of jail helping his lawyers and investigators prepare the case. He should be working at his job, and attending to his family responsibilities. Instead, he has to "choose" between staying in jail where he can't help with his defense, or not have $10,000 that his defense lawyers desperately need.

A judge who sets a high bail per se harms innocent people. An innocent client - and all clients are presumed innocent under the Constitution - needs bail money to pay his lawyers and to hire experts. He can't afford to stay in jail, and he cannot afford to bail himself out of jail. It's lose-lose. Setting high bail, therefore, signals that the judge is not serving as a check on prosecutors and police, but instead has been co-opted by them.

Joel Rosenberg must be freed, because no innocent man should ever be in prison. Joel Rosenberg must be freed, because as long as he's in jail, all of us are in jail.