Plain Talk Too

by Edgar J. Steele

June 24, 2001

Below  is  another sampling of the thousands of comments and feedback I have received from around the world in the past few days.  As before, I have purposely not included any of the many comments which were laudatory of my work, my words and my motives, though I want to acknowledge all of those incredibly kind thoughts directed at myself.  Thank you for them.  Rest assured that I have read every single word of every single one of the letters, emails and messages I have received.  I apologize for not having delivered to every one of you the personal response and thank you that you deserve for reaching out, but there are just so many hours in the day and my resources are limited.
The rest of the world has moved on from this issue.  The local media has, too.  The local population is also bored.  Now is when they will move in to finish what they began nearly one month ago.  I haven't stopped looking on, however, and neither have you, I hope.  When I first met with JoAnn the night of May 30, I promised her I would do all within my power to keep her family together and get the property seizure reversed.  She has publicly stated since then that she does not want my help.  I do not believe that was a rational decision, nor one reached by herself without undue influence from others.  Therefore, I have continued, from the sidelines and as best I can, to fulfill the promise I made.  These email updates have been a part of that campaign.
Consider the fact that the need to get me removed from this case has been the only thing that Prosecuting Attorney Robinson, Public Defender Powell, the local media and Sheriff Jarvis have all agreed upon.  Within hours of her public pronouncement that she wanted only Powell to represent her, leaving her altogether without legal representation of her civil interests, Powell and Robinson issued a joint statement that "the property is not in issue."   My investigators and I had been digging on that very thing for only 48 hours at the time I was cut off, but we turned up some very interesting and provocative things, only some of which I have shared with you.  JoAnn loses her land, worth upwards of $500,000, for $8,000 in back taxes and "the property is not in issue?"  I was the only one charged with pursuing that issue.  I was the only one representing her civil interests.  What happened?  You have to admit, that is an interesting question.
Consider the fact that I stood ready to bail her out on the second day of her incarceration and have continuously stood ready to do so ever since.  We have now collected $25,000 which could be posted for her bail.  We have all pushed for her release since her arrest.  Consider that there has been zero effort by Powell to get bail in any amount without conditions set or the "release on own recognizance with conditions" modified so that she could sign off on the terms of release.  Nor has he initiated a Habeas Corpus proceeding to get her released.  She is still in jail, folks.  That may not seem strange to you, but to a lawyer like myself, that is extremely odd and highly suspicious.
Consider the fact that she publicly disavowed the June 11 rally protesting her being kept in jail under provably-false charges and under an outlandish bail amount.  Would you have done that without undue influence?  Consider that the local establishment, including the County Commissioners and the local media, vilified the rally participants as "antigovernment."  Some media observers made the startling claim that we were "white supremacists," though I don't recall having seen anybody there who I knew to be a separatist, even.  I'll bet the white supremacy label surprised JJ Johnson, an earnest fellow as black as the ace of spades, who was there with us to protest this tyrannizing of an American family.  And why would the Commissioners even be mixing into this fray (oh, that's right - it's the county that stole their land in the first place, isn't it)?
Consider the fact that all the players claim to be doing this "for the children."  Yet they took the children's sole asset, their home, for a pittance, in a tax seizure that was procedurally defective, sold it and pocketed the profit.  They took their dogs and either shot them or put them in the pound.  They took the kids, split them up and have been shuffling them from one foster home to the next.  They locked up their mother on false charges within days of the children watching their father lowered into his grave.  They expended unprecedented resources in combing through the family's personal effects, searching for additional things to use to justify the criminal charges for which their mother is still in jail.  The local media has marched lockstep with the local authorities in vilifying the kids, their mother and all of us protesting their treatment.  All this, "for the children." 
Enough of the sermon ---

What's going on up there?
Don't know, for sure, and I wish someone would explain it to me.
We were wondering what would be the appropriate place to send money to help the family... - Jim & Sallie
JoAnn McGuckin Benefit Account, c/o Panhandle State Bank, PO Box 967, Sandpoint, Idaho 83864.

It is interesting that this paranoid woman (according to the neighbors) suddenly puts out statements that follow "exactly" the path that is most pleasing to the government miscreants who have so flagrantly violated her and her six fatherless and motherless and homeless, children.   Allegedly she has refused all assistance from her only friends, and any association with all that truly love her and her children and taken up with the government agents that have destroyed her and her children's very lives and made them homeless.  I would caution all those who have lovingly and at a sacrifice, extended themselves for this mother of six, - to "not trust what you have heard and read about Mrs. McGuckin that allegedly comes from out between the bars of the county jail."   Do not abandon her.   Not at this time.   - Jack
I celebrated Thanksgiving with strict tradition this year. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land. - Cherokee
Although we have exchanged several e-mails, I will be damned if I know what it is that you DO want to do. - Karolyn
I thought it was painfully obvious.  I want to see this family put back together again, first, with all charges dropped and their home returned to them, to be left alone to live their lives as they see fit ("freedom," we used to call it).  Second, I want the perpetrators of this outrage brought low and put out of business because, if they get away with it this time, there is nothing to stop them doing it to your family or mine or anybody's else's, for that matter.
Rest assured that a public defender is always under the thumb of the Judges they will appoint the most malleable attorney from their "A" list. Don't ever expect Justice to be served by an Attorney appointed by the same faction that led to this travesty. - Leland
Is there ANYONE in the courthouse who sees through all this and knows what's going on and thinks in stinks? The clerk of court, the county auditor, anyone? - Ed
Rumor is that the rank and file throughout county government is generally outraged and appalled to be associated with this entire affair...particular those working in good ol' Phil's office.
Here are some thoughts for the McGuckin  Idaho Boycott. is an online website for the area. Here is where you can find your targets for a Boycott. There are several options here, and a few hints... contact the realtors, and tell them you were planning on buying land here to retire, but because of the way government treats its widows and children, you have decided to buy in Montana.  The realtors love to subdivide and sell to outsiders, make it sting. Also, tell the travel groups here you have changed your plans for a vacation here and are going to Washingon or whatever. There is also Lighthouse dressing made here - contact them and boycott their dressings, and Coldwater Creek is a major shaker here, tell them you will not buy from them. Happy hunting.- Larry
I have received heat from some locals for including letters that call for boycotts of anything around here.  However, boycotts, rallies, lawsuits, letters to the editor and email campaigns are called "working within the system."  We get demonized for doing that, but the alternative is something I will not advocate.  It is all we have.  When local officials get told to shape up by local economic powerhouses, they listen.  Therefore, I not only include this call for boycotts, I wholeheartedly support it and ask you to spread the word.
Why can't the trust fund just pay the back taxes? - Paul
About the taxes - I was able to pay back taxes only on the 1.5 acre parcel. The 40-acre parcel went beyond redemption when sold to the Korenguts by the county last October. About the only way to get it back now is to show they are "dirty" in the transfer, thus not "bona fide purchasers." Doing that will require a lawsuit and the resultant subpoena power flowing to the filing lawyer, in order to conduct a proper investigation. There are enough defects in the tax sale notice to file suit over and, likely, undo the original seizure, but first a lawyer willing to do that needs a willing client. We all know what her alleged attitude is just now. As soon as they got her to say she no longer wanted my services for free, then both sides issued the statement that "the land is not in issue."
My Uncle, who is a life long, 75 year old resident of Idaho says that this lady has three years to pay back her back taxes and reclaim her land.  Is the money the commies say she owes a cumulation of three years or more of unpaid taxes; and, if not, has she been offered the opportunity to come up with the back taxes, pay them, and get her valued land back?  The second thing is:  where exactly did the money go that is the difference between the tax (supposedly) owed and the amount paid by the folks from back East who (supposedly) bought it. - Theodore
The 3 years applies only if the county doesn't sell it, else there is only a 1 year right of redemption.  That's why the county held it for 15 months before moving in like this.  The sale cut off the right of redemption.  The difference went to the county, per state law.  Nice, eh?
(S)ome well-meaning local citizens still can't comprehend that the lawyer Ed Steele, who represented Richard  Butler of the Aryan Nations, was defending Butler on an issue of free speech. Steele is by no means a white supremacist or a right-wing extremist. - Alexandra

We at Aryan Nations thank you for standing up for truth. Hail Victory. -  rgb

It is difficult to follow the path I have chosen in life, sometimes, because so many want me to hew to their outlook in all respects. Though some of your adherents expected that of me, and were then disappointed, you never did. All manner of people become indignant if I am not enough of a conservative, or enough of a liberal, or enough of a Nazi, or....well, you get the idea. When all else fails, many simply employ the tried and true, and attack me personally.

And I can't just walk away from these cases, so many of which end up in the media spotlight due to their politically-incorrect nature. You know full well how many times I tried to walk away from yours, but finally couldn't bear to see what was being done to you in the name of political correctness, despite the fact of how much we disagree on many things.

The fact is that truth comes in all shapes and sizes and is not the exclusive province of any one group or ideological persuasion. Nor do I claim to have a lock on what is or is not truth. I am, after all, just one man, with any man's fallibilities, temptations and tendency to self delusion.

More than anything, I become outraged when confronted by tyranny and injustice, such as that visited upon you last year. Call it a weakness. Despite the outcome of that case, I remain steadfast in my belief that you had nothing to do with the assault for which you were sued, but were simply being pilloried for your beliefs and teachings.

Today, tyranny and injustice are being employed by our elected officials against so many, not just the visibly politically incorrect such as yourself, that I scarcely know where next to turn. I only know that I cannot turn away. Unfortunately, though this is certainly a growth industry, my shyster brethren haven't yet figured out how to make it turn a buck, so it's an uphill battle for me, even in my own profession.


As for many of the checks coming from New York...I'll bet most are from upstate NY where I live in the rural Adirondack Mts not far from the Canadian border...People from outside the area don't realize how many constitution- oriented people there are here...they called us radical because we opposed the self proclaimed saviors of the enviros...there are a lot of good people here who feel that sooner or later they will find  a way to get us out of here...People just stay here like fleas on a dog and live in abject poverty...So, many in the area that know about JoAnn, maybe relate to her situation and want to help. - Judy


(I)n regard to Erina McGuckin's alleged bone weakness -- The media have assumed it's because of malnutrition.  I would question anorexia/bulimia and possibly a condition that interferes with calcium absorption (etc.). Also I would wonder at what age the problem developed. -  Alexandra

The media assumes this because that is what good ol' Phil Robinson has told them...repeatedly.  For more on this, read what Ingri has to say -

My friend here in Sandpoint revealed that Erina is upset by the charges of malnutrition in relationship to the condition she has in her legs. She describes it as congenital and apparently the medical discharge she received from the military also reflects this diagnosis. The medical report on this from the military could be in the file with the rest of the McGuckin children but this file is sealed. As far as I know, it is not in JoAnn's file. - Ingri

And I have been assured by a confidential (very inside) source that the allegations of the stress fractures in Erina's legs caused by malnutrition is pure "bullshit."
The more I read of this matter the worse it seems to become.   Obviously, there is much below the surface and in the wings that I do not have the insight to perceive -- Indeed, why would someone turn down free legal help in a situation like this? - Vern
Vern, I think your insight is working just fine.
(Y)ou are a strange lawyer.  Did you not learn in law school that the primary calling of the lawyer is not to give, but to receive?  Did your professors not drum into your head that the only purpose in life for the lawyer is to extract cash from whatever and wherever by any and all means expedient? - BL
This is a true story:  On my very first day of law school at UCLA, at the outset of my second class, Criminal Law and Procedure, the professor opened his lecture with:  "Ladies and gentlemen, remember - if it ever comes down to choosing whether you go to prison or your client does, always make sure it is your client."  I have never forgotten his advice and realize how much it reveals about my profession.
Bryce Powell called me tonight and we talked for about 20 Min...I asked about the picture of him and JoAnn in the paper.  He says she is relying on him for emotional support and that he is not ashamed of that. - Elaine
I must have missed that Law School lecture series.

I have written to you with respect to legal issues and assistance.  Why do you not attempt to help or even to correspond? - Julia
I have received literally hundreds of pro bono case requests and put them to one side, to consider more thoroughly at another time.  I am only one man and can only do so much.  I pursue only one of these pro bono cases at a time because that is all I can afford to do.  I also have a family to look after and must earn a living.
Definition of "Hick"
H - ighly
I - ntelligent
C - ountry
K - id                          - Richard



Hooray for HICKS- we need more of them. - Beverly

Is it safe to travel to Idaho? The Gestapo tactics of the Bonner County officials make me wonder if visitors will be treated the same as they are mistreating one of their own citizens. - Dean
It's pretty safe.  Just be careful not to be found to be interested in truth and justice or politically-incorrect things and you will stay out of trouble. 
A closing thought or two.
I started out on what has now taken the form of a quest for me with the notion that this was just another pro bono case, like so many I have handled in the past.  This one became different, however, when so many of you shared yourselves with me in so personal a fashion.  Suddenly, I became the taker, not the giver, because I found myself being spiritually renewed by the outpouring of kindness and generosity directed not just at JoAnn and her children but, incredibly, at myself, as well. 
At the ripe old age of 55, I had become far too jaded and cynical about human nature and motivations, particularly as a result of my last high-profile case (of course, going in, I had no idea this case would attain anything like the profile that it did).  You have shown me the error of my ways. 
Even now, as I type these words, tears well up as I recall so many of your letters and emailed thoughts.  How you have told me of your childhood terrors and what resulted.  About those of very limited means sending so much in support of this family. About those with plenty sending so very much.  About your hopes and your fears.  Of your kindness.  By comparison with what I have given of myself in this matter, I have taken from you a hundredfold.  This case could be the textbook definition of why it is in every lawyer's self interest to handle some cases pro bono.  Thank you for making a difference in my life. 


"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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