By Dave Lindorff
Federal Judge Filipe Restrepo, a man with a solid history as a defender of civil liberties and civil rights, and a defense attorney by training and private practice experience, seems sadly to have gotten a bit thin-skinned after donning the robes of a federal judge.
As my colleague Linn Washington wrote earlier this week , the judge lost it when Hampton Coleman had the effrontery to write a 28-word letter to Restrepo questioning the judge's integrity and his commitment to "blind justice," and warning that "we the people" would be "watching and listening very carefully" to the judge.
In response to that angry but innocuous letter, Judge Restrepo dispatched two members of the US Federal Marshals Service to make an early morning visit to Coleman, where they reportedly accused him of sending a "threatening" letter and warned him not to send any more. (As Washington recounts, when Coleman asked the marshals about his First Amendment rights, they told him the Constitution was "an old document" and that it was "irrelevant."
I would argue when a federal judge thinks that receiving a letter from a citizen telling him to honor the Constitution and warning him that the public will be "watching and listening" to his actions in court constitutes a possible criminal act that calls for a threatening home visit by US Marshals, that judge has himself become a threat to a free society.
Interestingly, another of my colleagues here at ThisCantBeHappening!, John Grant, says that a PDF file put out by Judge Restrepo's own office says that "Judge Restrepo permits correspondence with the Court on all matters."
Fair enough! I am calling for our readers here at ThisCantBeHappening! to take him up on that invitation, and to let the judge know in no uncertain terms that it's not just Hampton Coleman who is going to be watching and listening to his actions and decisions on the federal bench here in Philadelphia.
So please, if you feel that this behavior by Judge Restrepo was an outrage, send him a letter too...
For the rest of this article and call to action by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent alternative online newspaper, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/651