Alas, poor JoAnn - I knew her well....

 by Edgar J. Steele

July 21, 2002

I have received lots of requests for an update on the McGuckin saga.  I haven't said anything about it for a couple of weeks because, frankly, I have had nothing to say.
She showed up at a custody hearing with her county-paid lawyer and was once again denied custody of her children.  They continue in foster care.  She continues to face the criminal charge being pressed by good ol' Phil.  Their home continues to be owned by someone else.  Their dogs continue to be either dead or at the pound.  This affair continues to dance to good ol' Phil's tune, right down the line.
By the way, I do have some news, both good and bad.  The good news is that good ol' Phil might not be Bonner County's Prosecuting Attorney after next year.  The bad news is that, if so, it will be because he will have won election to the local District Court judge's seat that his staff now confirms that he wants. Gee, that means there might be an opening in the Prosecuting Attorney's office, too.  I wonder who that would go to....
Interestingly, the lady magistrate who has served as judge for most of the McGuckin-related hearings, Debra Heise, has also expressed a strong interest in running for the same judgeship.  Another local lawyer, Tevis Hull, who used to be Bonner County's Prosecuting Attorney, has also indicated that he is going to file for the seat.  And of course, there is the seat's current occupant, James Michaud, to contend with.  Though Michaud always says he's not going to run again, he always does.  I hear he's a couple of years away from some sort of retirement vesting level, so it seems certain that he will once again be leading the hunt.  A contested position for judge!  Now, that is something of a novelty for anyplace in America today, since usually the good-old-boy network ensures that there is only one name on the ballot for voters to "choose" from.  I may just file for it, too, to make it a real free for all.
To my knowledge, nothing is happening with pursuing getting the McGuckins' home back for them.  Remember that JoAnn's county-paid lawyer and good ol' Phil issued the joint statement that "the land is not in issue" just hours after she stated in court that she no longer wished me to represent her (for free, no less).
Here's what I said about this a month ago:
Know what I think?  I think it's over for this family.  I think the authorities are waiting for the public furor to die down, so they can then do what they intended from the beginning.  I think these kids will end up split apart and adopted out.  I think JoAnn will get that psych eval and be shipped off to Orofino (the local mental health "facility").  I think the land will go on to its intended grand and glorious future.  I think Bonner County will continue to plunder its poorer residents, taking their land for back taxes, then selling it and keeping the profit.  That's what I think.  It's my opinion, and I'm entitled to it.  So there. 
I haven't changed my mind.  I don't know whether JoAnn has had that psych eval that her county-paid lawyer agreed to allow.  That's about the only thing that I might be wrong about.  JoAnn seems to be going along with the government line on this affair so thoroughly that they just might not have to ship her off.  The local press, of course, continues its scorched-earth campaign to paint her the miscreant and her supporters as wackos.
We did get to the source of that "white supremacist" label that was placed on the rally, however.  The ABC News reporter, Dean Schabner, that used that phrase responded to my offer of an interview (the first I had given since JoAnn said she didn't want my representation) in exchange for his identifying his sources for that.  He got another story, which purported to, for the first time (!), report my belief that this was always just a land grab, pure and simple, that went awry. 
Know who Schabner said told him it was white supremacists that organized that rally?  Come on, now, that's not a hard question, at all.  Here's who he fingered:  JoAnn's county-paid lawyer, Bryce Powell and the chairman of the Bonner County Board of Commissioners, Tom Suttmeier.  Furthermore, both had also been saying that I was the (or, at least, a major) organizer of the rally.  Of course, I had nothing to do with the rally and showed up merely once, for a few minutes only.
You know all about the ignominious withdrawal from that rally by the Freepers who actually did organize it, of course, due to my prior missives.
Now, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to connect the dots and figure out why JoAnn decided I shouldn't continue to represent her, does it?  Or who told her why.  Or why.
I have, through JoAnn's other county-paid lawyer, Sara Seaborg (who seems a decent sort) left word that the trust fund is JoAnn's for the asking.  I have insisted upon her meeting me at the bank to sign for it personally, however - I will not transfer it through intermediaries or by mail.  The total at last count:  $31,446.32.  I hope she accepts it soon so that I do not have to continue to account for it.
Absent some sort of dramatic development, I think this will be my last email about the McGuckins.  I'm going to move on.  I have taken on another significant pro bono case and will email you about that in full, later this weekend.  It's another highly controversial case (of course, going in, I had no idea what the McGuckin case would turn into). 
This bears repeating:  I have been SO impressed with your emails and the outpouring of human good will that the McGuckin story has evoked, generally (coming soon to your local made-for-TV movie, I'm sure, with good ol' Phil reinvented by someone that everybody in the Pepsi generation just loves).  This jaded old lawyer has been so heartened by your genuine concern and sharing of what you have with these people that you do not even know.  Thank you for showing me this side of America, the America I grew up in and which I had come to believe no longer existed.  I sincerely wish I could afford to drop all pursuit of paid employment and handle nothing but pro bono cases for people being unjustly mangled by the system because there are so many and they have so little recourse.  I have already suffered the false negative typecasting, so now I have nothing further to lose at the hands of the media, of course.
Know this, however.  You made a difference.  Many people have awakened to the tyranny of local government due to our speaking out.  Furthermore, though you may not have directly touched the lives of the McGuckins, at minimum you will touch others through me, due to your reaffirming my belief in the need to take on cases like this. 
It may be of small comfort, but because of your warmth, support and understanding, none of which was in the least wasted on me or mine, my family fully supports me in taking on other pro bono cases involving people being cut down by government tyranny.  Hopefully, my example will inspire other lawyers to take on these "politically-incorrect" cases, as well.  I'll continue to tell you something of those cases as they come along and develop, if you like.  If not, simply opt out of my list.
This newest case of mine involves someone who is also on the business end of a railroad job being engineered by local government (not Bonner County this time, though still in Idaho) and it involves some badly skewed media coverage.  I doubt it will achieve more than a regional media profile, however, but that is the real problem anyway, because the jury gets picked from the very people reading the false newspaper accounts.  This fellow has already been tried and convicted in the local papers, so it is my challenge to see how best to undo that and get him a fair trial.
For those who have been following my emails, I hope they now see a pattern that they might not have seen before:  namely, that the media simply does everything in its power to promote the party line of the prevailing power structure.  That's one of the reasons that print newspapers are going by the wayside in droves and those remaining see steadily declining circulation.  Many people simply do not trust them.  And for good reason. 
I get most of my real news from the Internet, often from major newspapers' online editions, but more likely from the new Internet news services, such as WorldNetDaily, NewsMax, SierraTimes and LewisNews (add ".com" to find them).  I subscribe to the print versions of the local papers only so that I can easily see and keep for evidence in documentary form exactly what they are saying about my clients or myself.  I certainly don't expect to get any real news or truth from them.  Those days are past, folks, and we aren't likely to see them again.  Pity, but they did it to themselves.
This last has nothing to do with what we have been talking about, but even so, I add the following which was passed along to me by another because it is important to every one of us.  I checked it out and it is true.  I did the opt-out described below myself.  I encourage you to do the same.
Practically nobody has heard of this, but the four major credit bureaus in the US. are allowed by law, starting July 1, to release your credit information, mailing addresses, phone anyone who requests suchNice, huh?

To 'opt out' of this release of information, you can call 1-888-567-8688. It only takes a couple of minutes to do, and you can take care of anyone else in your household while making only one call; you'll just need to know their social security number. Be sure to listen closely - the first opt out is good for two years only, so don't choose it; wait until they prompt you to press '3' on your keypad to opt out for good.


"I didn't say it would be easy.  I just said it would be the truth."
            - Morpheus

Copyright © Edgar J. Steele, 2002

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