Tollroadsnews Shocker: Secret Report Sent Moroun & Stamper To Jail
Extremely serious allegations are being made by the Editor of Tollroadnews.
I am very worried for him. Supporting the Bridge Ccompany can result in massive ad hominem attacks being made against him personally and who knows what action taken against his publication!
Of course the allegations have not been proven. I am in no postion either to make an assessment of the allegations since I am unaware of this secret report as well and what it contains. However, it would seem to me that there are very serious questions about what has taken place to date in front of the Judge that must be dealt with in the interest of justice for all the parties.
Read the story for yourself and decide about what should be done.
Jailin’ Judge suppresses report used to jail bridge tollers – banana republic ‘justice’ in Detroit
Posted on Tue, 2012-01-24 00:19
It is one of the most fundamental tenets of English common law and of American justice that the accused have the right to know the evidence against them, and to dispute it – but not in the court being conducted by Judge Prentis Edwards in Wayne County District Court in Detroit. Two Ambassador Bridge men Manuel ‘Matty’ Moroun and Dan Stamper were sent to jail January 12 on the basis of a secret report.
Both tollmen were released the next day by the state court of appeals but we and others made the criticism that Judge Edwards showed no interest in the facts of the case before jailing them. He was charging two bridge officers with civil contempt of court for supposedly disobeying court orders without hearing any testimony on whether the company had done court-ordered construction work since the previous hearings.
Apparently in response to this criticism Judge Edwards in an order issued Jan 18 on a February 9 hearing chose to highlight a January 5 report by Charles Scales, a court “Monitor” of the Bridge Gateway plaza project. This report is to be updated for the February 9 hearing, the Judge orders, to describe the status of the bridge plaza on eight contested aspects of contract performance.
Judge Edwards uses Charles Scales’ reporting as a substitute for submissions by the parties and testimony, so when he ordered Moroun and Stamper jailed he did so on the basis of Scales report of January 5. We called the Judge’s office to see if we could get a copy of Scales report since it is a key in Judge Edwards court process leading to the rulings against the DIBC and the jailings.
“The report is for the judge only…
“No the report is for the Judge not for journalists,” Edwards’ law clerk told us from the Wayne County courthouse.
“So they are not public documents?” we asked.
“No they are only for the Judge.”
Michigan DOT’s spokesman says they’ve never seen Scales reports.
The DIBC (bridge company) people say they haven’t seen them either, though they’ve asked for them. They know about them because – adding insult to injury – Judge Edwards orders the bridge company to pay for them. And January 5 Scales submitted invoices to DIBC for work he has done over the past year for the Judge totaling $71,403. Or tells them he has done.
They’re being asked without seeing them to pay for reports that were the basis for Judge Edwards orders against the company and that were the basis for the jailing of their top two officers.
This is strikingly similar in vindictive spirit to the practice of communist governments sending the bills for the execution of ‘counter-revolutionaries’ to their families after the firing squads did their bloody work. 100 bullets @ 1 Ruble each = 100 Rubles owing the Peoples Court.
That secret reports should be the basis for Judge Edwards’ rulings, including his finding of contempt of court and the jailings of Moroun and Stamper is a violation of the common law principle that the accused have the right to know and answer evidence used against them, and to cross-examine their accusers.
It is a flagrant denial of ‘due process’ of law.
Especially important in the absense of any other evidence
The secret report of Scales was especially important for the defense when the Judge took no submissions, heard no testimony, and rejected all invitations to visit the site to see for himself.
Scales’ secret report was all Judge Edwards had to go on in sending two men to jail. His intention was that they should stay in jail until somehow the company was deemed to be in complete compliance with his orders. If the Jailin’ Judge had had his way Moroun and Stamper would still be in jail today.
Only the state Court of Appeals has gotten them out.
Judge Edwards is a disgrace to Michigan’s justice in other ways than using a secret report to convict and jail.
He also showed a cavalier disregard for other elementary principles of justice in his conduct of the January 12 hearing.
The dispute had always been between MDOT and DIBC, the bridge company not with its officers personally. Stamper at least is president of the company but Moroun though called the “owner” of the bridge is a minority shareholder and at age 84 is handing over to his son Matthew.
Stamper has said that the board of directors have delegated complete conduct of the Gateway case to him and that Moroun is not directly involved.
But neither of the two men were personally found or even charged with contempt of the court. Moroun had never even appeared in the court until ordered to appear without explanation on the day he was ordered off to jail – without any charges made against him, without being able to speak even.
The US Supreme Court in an oft cited ruling on the subject has said that “due process of law… requires that one charged with contempt of court be advised of the charges against him, have a reasonable opportunity to meet them by way of defense or explanation, have the right to be represented by counsel, and have a chance to testify and call other witnesses on his behalf…” (Oliver, 1948)
Banana republic tyrant in judge’s robes
The Jailin’ Judge disregarded all these principles of due process. He behaved like a banana republic tyrant in judge’s robes.
His actions were so vindictive and arbitrary he was bound to be over-ruled by the state appeals court, but the wonder is that the Governor and legislature are not moving to remove him from the bench.
Lawyers tell us Edwards is liable to charges of wrongful imprisonment for his actions of January 12 against the two toll bridge men.
42 USC §1983 titled Civil Action for Deprivation of Rights makes any official “under color of any statute, ordnance, regulation… of any state or territory who subjects… any citizen or person within US jurisdiction… to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws shall be liable in an action at law….”
The Jailin’ Judge is obviously an official who deprived Moroun and Stamper of their rights.
Clearly Edwards is a disgrace to the law in Michigan.
Media lynch mob
Another disgrace to the state is that leading newspaper and media people in Detroit have formed themselves into a nasty and stupid lynch mob, cheering on this appallingly lawless lawman.
That lynch mob behavior was neatly exhibited by the Detroit Free Press report “Moroun’s unfinished ramps force trucks into neighborhoods, disrupting community” dated Jan 14. The unfinished ramp they showed is a Michigan DOT unfinished ramp on Michigan DOT property and it is Michigan DOT which has been forcing trucks into neighborhoods – failing to build the ramp and blocking finished ramps with jersey barrier.
This awful ‘newspaper’ – at least on this issue it is no more than a disgusting propaganda sheet – has never acknowledged the mistake. Perhaps it wasn’t a mistake – just a nasty lie.
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