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  • Writer's pictureBart Scrivener

Der Lee County Prozess

Suffer the scrivener, the copyist, to do the one thing he is surely capable of. Let him duplicate the lines of Macbeth, Mersault, Josef K, et al.

"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player [actor] That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more: it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing."

Attempting to write a story about the absurd and endless bureaucratic processes that clog the corridors of the Courthouse and Justice Center, Kafka’s Der Prozess, (The Trial) and Camus’s The Stranger came to mind. In The Stranger, the prosecutor artistically adds the crime of parricide to the defendant’s charges and in The Trial, the defendant never finds out what he is charged with. In both stories, the totalitarian bureaucracy condemns Shakespeare’s “players” to death.

According to Gary Long, Robert Ham, Bill English and Judge Russell K. Bush, our citizen’s crime was to bring a gun to a commission meeting, albeit with a permit, where at the time, no signs were placed at the entrance forbidding the possession of arms, where despite the presence of multiple deputies, no one was screened, no magnetometer was used to check for arms.

We know at least one man who always packed, even during commission meetings, but listen very carefully. Our citizen’s “crime” was not really packing. His crime was being a witness of the truth when Oline Price requested and received added security to enforce masks and social spacing at the Revenue Departments. Our citizen witnessed her call the property tax bills “her love letters” and witnessed her confession that the idea of dogs sounded good to her. Our citizen’s crime was to go on record and to say that Oline Price and the Commissioners should all hang their heads in shame for joking about “love letters” and the use of dogs to enforce Covid rules. Gary Long and Robert Ham immediately called for his arrest and ban from the meetings. He was physically removed from the building and directed to remain on the park bench outside the Annex. It was not until the deputy returned to the bench to place him under arrest that the pistol turned up.

Our citizen retained attorney (Municipal Judge) Hand, who informed him a plea bargain had been reached. At trial, Robert Ham appeared as a witness and claimed the citizen frightened him. Attorney Hand declined to cross Ham, the plea bargain was abruptly withdrawn and Hand advised his client to plead to the gun possession charge. Our citizen was banned from commission meetings for two years and placed on probation for two years. Noteworthy that there was no probation officer in the courtroom, a fact that underscores that a plea bargain had been reached but mysteriously withdrawn without notice at the time of the trial.

When commissioner Ham’s seat came up for election, our citizen informed the Court that he was a qualified candidate and filed a motion in Judge Bush’s court to be allowed to campaign at commission meetings. Judge Bush set a hearing date for which notice was not received until after the hearing occurred and the motion was denied for failure to appear. A new motion was filed and a new hearing was set. This time the Prosecutor’s witness was Judge English, not Robert Ham. So when Ham’s false testimony at the original trial was raised, Ham was not present. Judge Bush claimed Ham was not afraid the night our citizen was arrested that Ham's fear presumably arose later at the trial. Begging his honor’s pardon, but the Rules of Evidence and hearsay rules apply to all parties. Convenient how Ham was not available to confirm or deny Judge Bush’s comments, again no opportunity to cross. Then it became Judge English’s time to likewise misrepresent the truth about whether certain candidates campaigned at commission meetings. Difficult say for sure because the courtroom was packed and there were other things taking place concurrent to the hearing of the Motion, making it difficult to hear what anyone had to say. The independent recorder's transcript will shed light in the future.

Judge Bush decided our citizen’s ability to attend and campaign at the Courthouse was not necessary and denied the motion. The reader should know that according to court documents, our citizen will be able to go back to commission meetings after December. What happens during those interim thirty days that renders our citizen no longer a threat to Robert Ham or others? Robert Ham did not win his party’s primary, so is he planning to run a write-in campaign? Does our citizen become less a threat after the election? If he is a threat, why was his pistol returned and why wasn’t his permit revoked?

In The Unbeliever and Christians, Camus writes: “When a Spanish bishop blesses political executions, he ceases to be a bishop or a Christian, or even a man; he is a dog just like the one who, backed by an ideology, orders that execution without doing the dirty work himself. We are still waiting, and I am waiting for a grouping of all those who refuse to be dogs and are resolved to pay the price that must be paid so that man can be something more than a dog”.

Magistrates, Guards, Bishops, Judges, they’re all the same in our postmodern world of alternate truths. The three “judges” involved in our trial were the probate court judge, the circuit court judge and the municipal court judge Hand, who “represented” the defendant for the crime of witnessing and protesting Oline’s comment that she liked the idea of having dogs at the Revenue Commission office. Three “judges” each played a part in finding our citizen “guilty” of witnessing magisterial indiscretion and likewise found a way to discourage any other folks who witness similar truths from reporting what they've seen.

In The Trial, Josef K. was “a man who tried to live his life according to principles of humanism, ethics, even religion.” As a direct result of the trial experience, he learned the disturbing truth that, in the law, “Lies are made into a universal system,” as he wrote in The Trial. The best he could manage within the law still would be a far cry from real justice.

Doors, whether they stand open or closed, block understanding. In Kafka’s works, doors that stand open do not allow callers to pass through, doors that stand closed filter words and acts that those on the other side strain to understand. Doors open unto other doors, leading nowhere and communicating nothing”. Robert Zaretsky

Civilizations are not created by stripping people of their freedom, but are rather built “by the confrontation of ideas, by the blood of the spirit, by suffering and courage”-Camus Pessimism and Tyranny.

Civilizations are built by Dialogue, but there is no dialogue in Lee County. Bill English and the Commissioners have officially stated they do not answer questions and Gary Long sponsored the removal of Citizen’s Comments from the record or even being heard on the County website. Recently, the Lee County Planning Commission has initiated the same policy. Citizen comments are not put on record. Now it's time for all citizens to be scared of Lee County Authoritarianism. These examples of obvious Censorship are doors that block citizens' awareness.

“It is tempting — no, I am tempted — to conclude that, while K. finishes his life in a dark stone quarry, this is not necessarily our fate. I am tempted to write that instead of waiting mutely by the door of our government, many of us are demanding to be heard. I am tempted to write that some are now ignoring and charging past the doorkeeper much as our citizen did. And I am tempted to write that, whereas K. ends his trial isolated and alone, our trial finds us isolated but increasingly united.” R Zaretsky

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