Feb 072011

If someone spends around $20,000 over $34,000 defending himself against baseless allegations made against him by people who were paid for their efforts, and in the end, he has nothing more than he started with, has he won?  I’ve recently received a bit of congratulations for “winning” in court.  While I’m appreciative of the sentiment, I typically tell people that I haven’t won; I’ve simply stopped my losses.

On November 15, 2009, on my way home from representing Cannabis Defense Coalition at Drug Policy Alliance‘s biennial International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Albuquerque, I checked in for my flight on the Web, went to the airport, and presented my boarding pass to the airport security guards who stopped me from reaching the gate from which my flight was to depart.  About five minutes later, I was under arrest and headed for jail.  It’s unclear just why I was arrested (thought it seems to have stemmed from my inability to present documentation of my identity to U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport staff and from me recording my interaction with public employees in a public place), but it’s clear that I didn’t do anything wrong.  On January 21, 2011, a six-woman jury acquitted me of the four misdemeanor offenses with which I was charged after about an hour of deliberation.

The best place to go for information about my trial is the State of New Mexico v. Phillip Mocek FAQ created and maintained by the Identity Project.  There, one can find photos and audio from the trial, analysis of the verdict, and information about related issues.  The best evidence of what happened is the video of my arrest that I recorded, then recovered after it was deleted while the camera was in police custody.  I’d almost certainly have been convicted were it not for this video, which contradicts many of the claims made by the states’ witnesses.  I added subtitles and posted it on the Web, where it has been viewed nearly 100,000 times in less than three weeks.

There’s much more to this story, and sifting through 1800 posts in a related discussion on FlyerTalk Forums is an inconvenient way to find it all, so I’ll post more here soon.

I’m paying for my criminal defense out of pocket.  Over 50 people have contributed to my legal defense fund, with most donations ranging from $10 to $100.  I don’t have the final bill, and my lawyers (Molly Schmidt-Nowara and Nancy Hollander, with whom I was very pleased) aren’t going to charge me for all the work they did, but I expect to owe another $15,000 or so beyond what others have chipped in.  [UPDATE: The total legal bill, received in early February, came to $34,000.] If you’d like to contribute to this project — that of me calmly and respectfully refusing to surrender my rights, then aiming for a jury instead of a plea bargain — you can do so online via Paypal or by mailing cash, check, or money order to:

Phil Mocek legal defense
Cannabis Defense Coalition (CDC)
PO Box 45622
Seattle, WA 98145

CDC is a Washington State 501(c)(3) non-profit (see IRS determination letter), so contributions made through them are tax-deductable, and your employer may provide matching funds. All contributions made through them will go to my defense fund.

Alternatively, contributions can be mailed directly to my lawyers’ office (payable to “Freedman Boyd et al.” You can indicate “Phil Mocek defense fund” in the memo field) at:

Phil Mocek legal defense
Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Ives & Duncan PA
20 First Plaza Ctr NW Ste 700
Albuquerque, NM 87102-5802