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Thread: Accosted by a Federal Court Bailiff

  1. #1
    Regular Member SFCRetired's Avatar
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    Accosted by a Federal Court Bailiff

    While my lovely bride was in English class at the Baptist Church this morning, I took advantage of the beautiful weather to walk around the area. On South Court Street, I had a flashback to fifty years ago when I got off the bus from Mobile enroute to the old H&R Point for induction into the Army. The old Greyhound bus station, now the Freedom Riders' Museum.

    As I paused to remember those days (the day the Freedom Riders came to Montgomery), a bailiff from the Federal court building accosted me, asked me who I was with, and then proceeded to tell me I could not carry openly.

    When I told him that, in fact, it has always been legal in Alabama to open carry and cited Reid vs. State, he then proceeded to tell me I had to have a permit. Mind you, this was all very polite, but I told him that the only time I had to have a permit was if I concealed or if I entered a vehicle and that I did not have one on me (finally learned to carry sterile). Next comment was that I could not carry around a Federal Court House. My comeback was that the Federal Court House had nothing to do with the public sidewalk maintained by the City of Montgomery.

    All of this with an armed Security Guard standing there goggle-eyed. I think the good bailiff finally either gave up or realized he was outclassed in knowledge of the law and left.

    Oh, yeah; would you believe he never asked me who I am nor for ID?

    Gut feeling: He wanted to exercise his "authoritah". Didn't do him any good.

    I will be sending an email to whoever handles the bailiffs and the security telling them about the incident and that they need to educate their employees on the law.

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    Good thing he didn't ask for ID. He had no authority to do so with any expectation that you needed to comply with such a request.
    Sounds like you handled that well Sarge.
    Carry On.

  3. #3
    Founder's Club Member thebigsd's Avatar
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    Indeed, it sounds like you handled the situation perfectly. If you don't mind, would you be willing to post both your letter if you write one and their response if you get one? I am interested to see how they handle the situation.
    "When seconds count between living or dying, the police are only minutes away."

  4. #4
    Regular Member SFCRetired's Avatar
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    I sent an email saying pretty much what you see in my post. I emphasized that the bailiff was polite, but that he appeared ignorant of what the law is. I pointed out ALOC and OCDO as valuable sources of information concerning the laws of Alabama and suggested that a little training might be in order.

    If, and when, I get a reply, I will be sure to post it.

    Interesting that it happened in front of a monument to civil rights, isn't it? I think there were a few ghosts sitting on my shoulders this morning.

  5. #5
    Regular Member Brimstone Baritone's Avatar
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    Sounds like that encounter couldn't have gone any better. Way to go!

    With your permission, I'd like to post this on ALOC.

  6. #6
    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    Why, you might have been arrested for either Contempt of Bailiff or Terroristic Activities (Walking Around With Nothing To Do) which carries an enhanced penalty.

    Kudos to you. There is too much of this "federal" means "no rights" stuff, and the cry of "national security" gets old very quickly.

    The actual United States Marshall is in charge of the bailiffs. Find out who it is and make a formal complaint. Also submit a FOIA request for the incident report made out by both the bailiff and the security guard, all video recordings of the area during the time, and anything else you can think of.

    If you are not already in the habit of carrying a voice recorder whenever you are outside the house, and turning it on (all presuming one-party consent applies in Alabama) then you need to get in the habit right away. There are many models that can record more than 24 hours of voice data, and with the proper batteries can keep recording for more than 24 hours. A search should lead you to many threads where various models are reviewed.

    Please let us know how this finaly is resolved.

    stay safe.
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  7. #7
    Regular Member SFCRetired's Avatar
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    @Brimstone Baritone: By all means post it on ALOC.

    @Skidmark: Let me stress that the bailiff was very polite even though wrong in his information. He did not try to get in my face nor raise his voice at me. I do carry a recorder that has something like fifty-five hours of recording time. Alabama is a one-party consent state.

    I really see no reason to file a complaint or a FOIA request as both the bailiff and the security guard were polite, did not really try to infringe my rights, and did listen when I rebutted the misinformation the bailiff was putting out. I might talk to the U.S.Marshal to encourage further training for those personnel under his control.

  8. #8
    Regular Member MKEgal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SFCRetired
    I really see no reason to file a complaint or a FOIA request as both the bailiff and the security guard were polite, did not really try to infringe my rights, and did listen when I rebutted the misinformation the bailiff was putting out. I might talk to the U.S.Marshal to encourage further training for those personnel under his control.
    Contact the boss, whether you call it 'filing a compliant' or not,
    because those people need to be retrained on several fronts.
    1) they're not in charge of the public sidewalk
    2) they need to know the law as it applies to their jurisdiction (the building)
    3) the bailiff was acting under color of law, which is a crime

    Being polite doesn't mean he was any less wrong, or the crime was any less a crime.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SFCRetired View Post
    Interesting that it happened in front of a monument to civil rights, isn't it?
    "Civil rights laws were not passed to protect the rights of white men and do not apply to them."
    --Mary Frances Berry, Chairman, US Commission on Civil Rights.

    The Rights you possess are Inalienable Rights. They are not "civil rights." Inalienable Rights are inviolate. Civil rights can be changed at the whim of any bureaucrat.
    Last edited by Tony_B; 01-10-2012 at 09:30 AM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by SFCRetired View Post
    @Brimstone Baritone: By all means post it on ALOC.

    @Skidmark: Let me stress that the bailiff was very polite even though wrong in his information. He did not try to get in my face nor raise his voice at me. I do carry a recorder that has something like fifty-five hours of recording time. Alabama is a one-party consent state.

    I really see no reason to file a complaint or a FOIA request as both the bailiff and the security guard were polite, did not really try to infringe my rights, and did listen when I rebutted the misinformation the bailiff was putting out. I might talk to the U.S.Marshal to encourage further training for those personnel under his control.
    Any letter or contact made with the "chief of the bailiffs" or US Marshal could easily be phrased in such a manner as to exclude the identification of the bailiff (assuming that the ballif did NOT file an official report on this situation--- maybe he was actually on a lunch break and just saw you instead of being send to "confront" you ) involved IF THAT IS HOW YOU DESIRE TO HANDLE THIS. Suggesting in your contact that they train/retrain the ballifs so that they know the limits of their responsibilities and the potential penalties associated with any PROVEN color of law claim.
    RIGHTS don't exist without RESPONSIBILITY!
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  11. #11
    Regular Member SFCRetired's Avatar
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    Just so everyone knows, I both emailed and snail-mailed the U.S. Marshal for this area. As of this date, I have received no response.

    Now for the good part: My lovely bride starts back in ESL this Monday. I will be walking around in the same area and, if it will just warm up a bit, I will be open carrying again.

  12. #12
    Regular Member Brimstone Baritone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SFCRetired View Post
    if it will just warm up a bit, I will be open carrying again.
    I hear you. I tried talking my wife into putting a zipper on the side of one of my jackets, but she said it would be too hard.

  13. #13
    Regular Member SFCRetired's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brimstone Baritone View Post
    I hear you. I tried talking my wife into putting a zipper on the side of one of my jackets, but she said it would be too hard.
    I hear you. I talked to a professional seamstress about fixing up one of my jackets with a slit for the holster/firearm. She took a look and said it would be just about impossible.

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    I don't make a living as a seamstress, but I do sew a little, and I don't think it would be impossible. It wouldn't be the most professional looking, but it could be done. I don't imagine that it would be easy to draw through, though. Especially if you needed it in a hurry.

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    I'm glad it went well for you and that all parties conducted themselves in a professional manner. This thread was delightful and encouraging to read.

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