On 27 March 2013, I once again, for the manyeth time, entered the Alameda County Wiley Manuel Courthouse by nine o’clock in the morning and through ‘take off your belt’ security, to wait, then wait some more, for the district attorney to deliver lies to the court about the ongoing cases against me. While waiting, with only a few people present and court still not in session, ie no judge present by ten o’clock, I made the mistake of using my phone inside the court room. When the sheriff bailiff reminded me that was not allowed, I immediately stood up to exit the room, apologizing and explaining that I was confused. I had thought the rule wasn’t enforced before court was in session and said as much.
As I was walking toward the door, the bailiff, possibly by the name of officer Dawkins of the Alameda County Sheriff Department, loudly verbally assaulted me. He was practically yelling that I should have known, saying something about the signs in the room, ‘couldn’t you read the notice?’ Given that I had already apologized and was leaving the room, the delivery of this ‘information’ seemed to have only one purpose : to harass and embarrass me. Almost out the door, I turned back to him and said, ‘you don’t HAVE to be a jerk,’ and exited the room.
There were maybe thirty prospective jurors sitting on the long benches in the long hall, waiting to be brought into the adjoining court room. It was quiet, until I turned around to realize that Officer Dawkins had followed me out. He was telling me he was not going to allow me to return to the court room.
I, of course, informed him I would, indeed, be coming back in, as he did not have the authority to prevent me from following a court order to appear. His response, with about thirty jurors sitting right there as witness was to attempt to put me out of the building!
Officer Dawkins told me to go, I said no, he grabbed my arm, I informed him of the danger he was putting himself in, as he was violating my rights by putting his hands on me. Of course I told him to get his hands off me, and that I was not about to go anywhere private with him. I said that I would be staying right there with those thirty witnesses thank you very much.
The officer was in my face for too many minutes, refusing to step away from me. Then he began threatening to arrest me!
I know I keep saying ‘of course,’ but of course I asked … for WHAT?
Eventually he responded with ‘148’ to which I scoffed. This section of the California Penal Code refers to activity which prevents an officer from doing her job. Of course I had done no such thing. The fun was the fact that he was surprised I knew the code.
Officer Dawkins retreated, then came back out with the docket, asking me my name.
I reduced him to rubble by refusing to give him my name. I tried to let him down gently by taking the time to inform him that, unless he had actual suspicion of me having actually committed an actual crime, he had no right to ask me any questions at all, and that I certainly wasn’t required to answer. In a state of confusion, he retreated to his den.
Given that he had to back off, this incident was, in hindsight, comical … but I had, once again, been terrorized by a police officer overstepping the boundaries of constitutional policing.