Phil Mocek found “NOT GUILTY” by Albuquerque jury

A six-woman Bernalillo [NM] County Metropolitan Court jury has found Phil Mocek “NOT GUILTY” (video) of all of the charges brought against him following his arrest in November 2009 at the TSA checkpoint at the Albuquerque airport.

We’ll be posting audio recordings and photos of the trial.  The jury returned its verdict Friday evening after about an hour of deliberation, following a two-day trial we attended. (Video of the verdict and excerpts from Mr. Mocek’s reaction; longer audio of Mr. Mocek’s responses to questions in the hallway outside the courtroom immediately after the verdict; complete audio and pohotos of the trial.)

Mr. Mocek did not testify, and the defense rested on Friday without calling any witnesses or presenting any evidence. The jury found that even without rebuttal, the TSA and Albuquerque police had failed to satisfy their burden of proving any of the four charges: concealing his identity, refusing to obey a lawful order (it was never entirely clear whether this was supposed to have been an order to turn off his camera, an order to leave the airport despite having a valid ticket, or an order to show ID, none of which would have been lawful orders), trespassing, and disorderly conduct.

The best evidence in the case was the video from Mr. Mocek’s digital camera that both the TSA and the police had tried to stop Mr. Mocek from filming, and which ended when they seized his camera out of his hands and shut it off.

In her closing argument, defense counsel Molly Schmidt-Nowara argued that the police and TSA witnesses were not credible, that their testimony was contradicted by the video and by common sense, that what they really objected to was having Mr. Mocek legally take pictures, and that any disorderly conduct was on the part of the police and TSA.

The verdict of “NOT GUILY” on all counts shows that the jurors saw through the police and TSA lies.

Mr. Mocek, of course, is still out thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and expenses for repeated trips to Albuquerque to defeat this frame-up attempt.

But we hope that Mr. Mocek’s acquittal will encourage and empower others to question the unlawful demands of the TSA — including their demands that we waive our right to remain silent, provide them with evidence as to our identity, and submit to virtual strip-search machines or groping — and to photograph and record our interactions with the TSA’s cop-wannabes and rent-a-cops and the local law enforcement officers who provide their muscle.

(See also our FAQ: What you need to know about your rights at the airport.)

We also hope that this verdict will teach police not to blindly back up the TSA when the TSA calls upon law enforcement officers to “deal with” travelers to whose actions the TSA has, for whatever reason, taken a dislike. This verdict shows that jurors can see through their lies when they make up stories and false accusations against travelers.

Uncontested TSA and police testimony at the trial established, among other things, three important points:

  1. Despite calling themselves “officers”, TSA checkpoint staff are not law enforcement officers and have no police powers — and both TSA and police are fully aware of this. When the TSA calls for the police, they are just like any other civilians who call the police, and the police have no obligation to do what they ask.  Police should not act, and have no right to act, in such a case, unless the police have a reasonable basis for believing that a crime has actually been committed or is being committed.
  2. You have the right, recognized by the TSA, to fly without showing ID. “It happens all the time. We have a procedure for that,” according to the lead TSA “Travel Document Checker” at the Albuquerque airport. Signs and announcements in airports saying that all passengers must present ID are false.
  3. You have the right, recognized by the TSA, to photograph or film anywhere in publicly accessible areas of airports including TSA checkpoints, as long as you don’t violate any local laws, photograph the images on the screening monitors, interfere with the screening process, or slow down the line. (Whether those limitations to your First Amendment rights claimed by the TSA are legal or Constitutional was not decided in this case, since Mr. Mocek wasn’t violating any local law, filming the images on the screening monitors, interfering with the screening process, or slowing down the line.) Signs or statements that photography is prohibited at Federal checkpoints are, in general, false.

Annoying the TSA is not a crime. Photography is not a crime. You have the right to fly without ID, and to photograph, film, and record what happens.  Your best defense is your own camera and microphone.  Ordinary jurors know, and are prepared to recognize with their verdict, that the TSA and police lie about what they are doing and why.

We salute Phil Mocek for standing up for all of us and our rights, and encourage supporters to contribute to help pay off his legal bills.

34 Responses to “Phil Mocek found “NOT GUILTY” by Albuquerque jury”

  1. Twitter Trackbacks for Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » Phil Mocek found “NOT GUILTY” by Albuquerque jury [papersplease.org] on Topsy.com Says:

    [...] Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » Phil Mocek found “NOT GUILTY” by Albuquerque jury papersplease.org/wp/2011/01/22/phil-mocek-found-not-guilty-by-albuquerque-jury/ – view page – cached Home The Issue Who We Are What We Do Secure Flight Featured Cases Policy Analysis Lawyer’s Corner Take Action Press Room Contact Us Friends « Why are we here in Albuquerque at Phil Mocek’s trial? [...]

  2. Truth and Justice For All Says:

    [...] regarding the identity-check issue, see this more extensive analysis of the Mocek acquittal on Papers, Please!, and the TSA form used for persons who do not provide ID [...]

  3. Flyer ?Processed? (Arrested?) in NM After Declining to Show ID - Page 91 - FlyerTalk Forums Says:

    [...] analysis and reaction to the verdict: http://www.papersplease.org/wp/2011/…uquerque-jury/ KOB seems to use a weird video player, but the clip of the verdict and Phil’s reaction is also on [...]

  4. FScarn Says:

    What this whole thing proves is that the process is the punishment. Out thousands of dollars, 1.5 years of emotional roller-coasting not knowing whether he would be vindicated, and more.

    And to really top it all off: all of the wrong-doing public officials have IMMUNITY from any suit that Mocek might bring under section 1983.

    Ezra Levant has gone through the same thing with one of Canada’s “Human” Rights Councils for speaking the truth about Islam.

  5. Charles Arasim Says:

    I was a witness to the entire trial. I would like to say it was an honor to meet and speak with such courageous men as Phillip Mocek, Edward Hasbrouck, and Adam Kokesh. We all owe them a great debt of gratitude for their continuous work in the fight for our unalienable rights.

    With that said, I am astonished, but yet not surprised, as to what ends the government officials will stoop to in an effort to frame an innocent man to justify their smokescreen of self assumed power over the masses. TSA, Albuquerque Aviation Police, and the Albuquerque City Attorneys office lied, filed false charges, filed false reports, attempted to destroy, destroyed, and withheld exculpatory evidence, obstructed justice, committed perjury, and colluded to commit perjury.

    In the end it was truth that prevailed and that truth would never had been known if it weren’t for a video camera in the hands of one citizen. There is still hope for all of us as long as we remain vigilant in the unending battle to seek the truth and lifting the veils of secrecy.

  6. Charles Arasim Says:

    @FScarn - It maybe true that these “officials” can hide behind federal law, but not so easily under New Mexico law. I hope we find out…..

  7. S.B Says:

    Well said Charles, I agree.

  8. disgusted with it all Says:

    I hope he sues the city, the police and the tsa and each and every individual in TSA who participated under title 42 1983 acting under the color of law. If they have admitted they have no police power they have no qualified immunity. New Mexcio is a great place to sue remember the lady that got 18 million for hot coffee at mcdonalds what here. This is what will truely stop them when you hit them in the wallet.

  9. interested lurker Says:

    Great news. Given the findings, Mr. Mocek can easily recoup all of his legal expenses and a bunch more via filing against the TSA and the personnel involved for deprivation of rights under color of law.

  10. roisin Says:

    The power of the Jury, the last chance for the People to judge the Law … A lot of courts don’t even allow the Jury to be informed that they, “The People” are the absolute pinnacle of authority in the Judicial system.

    Instead they say that absolute authority is held by the “Judge” and this is because Article X, Section Y, Code 46 of the Penal code somehow re-writes the protection afforded “Accused” citizens.

  11. indio007 Says:

    Congrats!!!! Next up sue their a$$ for unlawful arrest ,false imprisonment, malicious prosecution … THE WORKS…Whinning a case isn’t enough if you don’t make them pay! My only criticism is you should have tried to kill it before the jury by challenging the ID law as unlawful. Hiibel v Neveda needs to be squashed.

  12. Martin Bowen Says:

    Some have raised the issue of 1st Amendment rights in the airport.
    From my facebook post:

    How far in the name of (national) security?
    by Martin Bowen on Sunday, January 16, 2011 at 11:27pm
    “Remember: inappropriate remarks or jokes can lead to your arrest.” -Houston Airport Speaker System on Airport Security Screening.

    Oh brave new world… and i came oh so close to a millimiter body scanner. they won’t let you get naked of your own volition for puritanity’s sake, but rather strip you against your will, using potentially hazardous technology (eg the x-ray full body scanner) to be peeped on by some operator. and if you dare say anything, they could construe it as inappropriate and arrest you. how about that for limiting your rights! just great! next to that, losing our luggage in houston is child’s play :)

    now for the nitpickers: an airport’s security zone offers duty free shopping precisely because it is not US territory. this could explain the erosion of civil liberties there (another that comes to mind is the warrantless grabbing of cells, pdas and computers at customs). but if so, then why does one need to go through US customs when transiting through the US? thus the baggage claim in Houston on our Cancun/Houston/Frankfurt flight, thus the baggage loss…

    While I’m at it, check out this piece by Danny Schechter:
    Does Fascism Lurk Around the Corner in The USA?
    http://blog.buzzflash.com/node/12225

  13. Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » Audio: State of New Mexico v. Phillip Mocek Says:

    [...] Papers, Please! Challenging ID Demands The Identity Project explores and defends the fundamental American right to move freely around our country and to live without constantly having to prove who we are or why we are here. Home The Issue Who We Are What We Do Secure Flight Featured Cases Policy Analysis Lawyer’s Corner Take Action Press Room Contact Us Friends « Phil Mocek found “NOT GUILTY” by Albuquerque jury [...]

  14. NBC Says:

    This just shows that they are allowed to lie and don’t even know the regulations or laws they are expected to uphold. Why would you put your trust in someone who is supposed to protect you when they lie or don’t know the facts? Thank you for your truth!

  15. B.S. Footprint Says:

    The TSA has no authority to stop photographers…

    Vote up!

    0

    Vote down!

    0

    In this case, the TSA overstepped their authority, and lost in court:

    A six-woman Bernalillo County Metropo…

  16. What happens when you refuse to pose for TSA or be sexually molested to fly. Says:

    [...] he acquitted, but his defense didn’t call a single witness or submit a single piece of evidence. http://www.papersplease.org/wp/2011/…uquerque-jury/ ____________________________Four Wheels Move the Body, Two Wheels Move the Soul. [...]

  17. Terry Says:

    You get found guilty for such things in the UK. See this story about a man who tweeted abouted his local airport being closed through snow.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/7706197/Accountant-used-Twitter-to-threaten-to-blow-up-airport.html

  18. Richard Haven Says:

    The case against McDonalds was because they served the coffee at 200° (so it would not get cold so fast)

    Airports are certainly US territory, “duty-free” not withstanding.

    The federal government can legeslate immunity for non-peace officers.

    Let’s not join the TSA in sillyness.

  19. Perro Insano Says:

    I have just three words for Phil Mocek, “Thank you, sir!” You’re a brave man who has done us all a favor.

    I know this isn’t the end of anything, nor even the beginning of the end, but I do hope that it’s the end of the beginning.

  20. David Says:

    I love it when cops who are wrong get the beat down themselves. Now what needs to happen is what when the authority does abuse it’s power they get the immediate SACK. This cop and all those wannabe cops abused their power and had a DA do their dirty work for them. That DA and the cop deserve nothing short of jail themselves.

    Wake up America. The “man” wants you to be very afraid and voluntarily give up your own rights so they do not have to look like idiots when they take them away.

    Come to Europe. At least you do not get shot by the Police when they fuck up and raid the wrong house.

    I love reading crap like this since i have been wronged by cops and fought them as well.

    I won as well. Some pig headed LT. with nasty ass breath from NH tried to pin a traffic violation on me which i did not do. He backed out of his driveway rear end first and left me on my bike with nowhere to go except around his hood quickly. The pig even had the balls to remind me to obey all the applicable traffic laws in NW.

    Imagine the balls of that pig. He was breaking the law himself but saw fit to remind me of the law when he left me no choice but to swerve around him.

    It gets better. That pig lied on the stand and said he did not back out with his rear end first. He committed perjury on the stand for the sake of a 50 dollar traffic ticket. Yeah. One bent cop.

    I have read recently that cop shootings are on the rise in the USA and i can see why. I still feel like putting a bullet in that cops head for trying to screw me and for lying on the stand to get a cheap conviction. He was a short little shit and did not like it when i stepped into his face. He told me not to back away from him. I had to his breath was really really bad. So when i stepped into his face he got a bit scared and slapped me with a ticket.

    I hate bend cops like this and he is one of the reasons i actually left the USA. Apart from the USA going to hell in a handbasket. Cops abuse their powers. corporations now run the country and your election does nto mean squat.

    enough of a rant…..

    Glad you fought the man and won!

  21. Joe Williams Says:

    It’s hard to applaud the efforts of American service men & women defending freedom over seas when, here at home, civilians willingly sacrifice those same freedoms being defended. Phil Mocek is not one of those willing civilians.

  22. kldfkldfk Says:

    You people don’t get it. The TSA and the police won. They removed him from the airport. That’s all they wanted to do and it was done. No trial or verdict can ever undo that.

  23. Twitter Trackbacks for Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » Phil Mocek found “NOT GUILTY” by Albuquerque jury [papersplease.org] on Topsy.com Says:

    [...] Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » Phil Mocek found “NOT GUILTY” by Albuquerque jury papersplease.org/wp/2011/01/22/phil-mocek-found-not-guilty-by-albuquerque-jury/ – view page – cached Home The Issue Who We Are What We Do Secure Flight Featured Cases Policy Analysis Lawyer’s Corner Take Action Press Room Contact Us Friends « Why are we here in Albuquerque at Phil Mocek’s trial? Audio: State of New Mexico v. Phillip Mocek » [...]

  24. Call Maker Says:

    It amazing that the police tell you, as a citizen of the United States; you have to provide proof of identification, yet it’s illegal to ask a suspected illegal immigrant for proof…

  25. The War on Freedom « Soil from Stone Says:

    [...] Jury confirms that there is no crime in refusing to show ID to the TSA nor in recording them in the process. [...]

  26. tissit Says:

    And what happens to the real offenders in this case? Nothing.

  27. mike Says:

    Are TSA agents Bonded? All police officers are bonded in case they act outside the law. You can put a(common law) lien on an officers bond for acting under color of law. All public officials are bonded, Judges also. This is a hammer that is not widely known but will put the fear of God in a public servant if you ask who holds his bond. Another way around this is to get a trust identification for Americas Union(Cartae Sacrorum De Congregatio Americas) On the back it states “Do not arrest, impede or detain. All law Enforcement Officials, representing the Executors and Administrators of a trust are liable for severe financial penalties, loss of employment and criminal prosecution for any breach.’ This can be found at One Heaven.org go to Ecclesiastical Deed Poll under trust ID.
    May God, Allah and The Great Spirits watch over and guide you.
    Mike
    Ohio.

  28. Passenger Acquitted After Confronting TSA at Airport « stuffmymomsends Says:

    [...] he was found not guilty without testifying or calling a single witness, the Papers, Please! blog reported. The Daily Conservative said Friday’s acquittal was the first time anyone has [...]

  29. 01-31 January 2011 « Privacy News Highlights Says:

    [...] have the right to fly without ID, and to photograph, film, and record what happens.” [Source] [Source] [Source] [The TSA’s Worst Nightmare: The Seattle frequent flyer finally gets his day in court] [...]

  30. NA-280-2011-02-20 | No Agenda Show Notes Says:

    [...] Fire for ‘Secret’ Relationship with NSA [Backup Link]The Watchdog letter re: GooglePhil Mocek found NOT GUILTY by Albuquerque jury [Backup Link]Recording a Police Officer Could Get You 15 Years in Jail [Backup Link]Judge John [...]

  31. Dedicated_Dad Says:

    I would STRONGLY encourage all Patriots to (1) get themselves a “Smart-phone” and (2) sign up for “Qik”* or a similar service.

    These apps provide “streaming” upload of the video as it’s being captured by your phone’s camera. Thus, should the PIGS** choose to attempt to delete your video or destroy the phone the record will already be out of your hands and onto a secure server.

    Qik can be set to also - simultaneously - upload to “Youtube” and (IIRC) a couple of other sites, as well as automatically send a message to a list of people you define telling them you’re posting a video! This can be especially useful if your contacts know to immediately download the vid as currently anyone with your phone could potentially delete it.

    DD

    *FULL DISCLOSURE: I have **NO** relationship of any kind (other than as a standard user) with Qik or (AFAIK) with anyone who does!

    **Pigs ain’t Peace-Officers. If you don’t know the difference, odds are that you’re a PIG!

  32. Liberty and Freedom for All » Blog Archive » Feds Assault Peaceful Protesters in Seattle Says:

    [...] can read the full story here. One of the protesters who was arrested is Phil Mocek, who was acquitted earlier this year after he was arrested for trying to fly without [...]

  33. Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » Phil Mocek files claim for violations of his civil rights Says:

    [...] being acquitted by a jury of all of the charges filed against him after he was arrested at a TSA checkpoiunt at the [...]

  34. Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » TSA fines “Naked American Hero” $500 Says:

    [...] as the checkpoint staff the TSA calls “Transportation Security Officers” are not law enforcement officers, so-called “Administrative Law Judges” are not judges or officers of any court. The [...]

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