Feb 01 2010

Albuquerque police still pressing charges against traveler who tried to exercise his rights

The trial originally scheduled for this Friday of Phil Mocek, who was arrested by local police at a TSA checkpoint in the Albuquerque airport in November, has been postponed at least until early May.  But that only happened after he retained retained private defense counsel, at considerable personal expense. You can help out by making a donation to his defense fund.

Mocek has made no comment, on the advice of his attorney.  But from news reports, it appears that he was arrested in retaliation for trying to exercise his right to travel without showing tangible evidence of his identity, and or for recording and/or photographing the TSA’s response to his assertion of his rights.  Since everything he did was entirely within his rights, and the TSA agents have no authority to make arrests, they followed their de facto standard operating procedures by calling in the local police and getting them to trump up an array of false and/or unconstitutional charges under local and state law: criminal trespass (Albuquerque Code of Ordinances § 12-2-3), resisting, obstructing or refusing to obey a lawful order of an officer (§ 12-2-19), concealing identity with intent to obstruct, intimidate, hinder or interrupt (§ 12-2-16), and disorderly conduct (NMSA § 30-2-1). [Note: It appears that direct links to sections of the Albuquerque Code of Ordinances will work only after you click on the Albuquerque Code of Ordinances link and then on either “frames” or “no frames”, to set the required cookies in your Web browser.] The “trespass” charge seems particularly problematic in light of the fact that the airport is publicly owned and that Mocek was attempting to exercise his right to travel by common carrier, a right not only guaranteed by Federal law but protected by explicit Federal statutory preemption against any local or state interference.

Nothing we’ve learned has suggested that any of these charges are supported by the facts, or are other than retaliation.  So we’re disturbed that the prosecutor hasn’t dropped the charges yet, even though a review of the evidence and the case should have made clear that these charges were unfounded.  We hope the district attorney will come to their senses and drop the charges.

[For the status of the case, go to the county court website, complete the “captcha”, and enter “2573709” in the “criminal case number” field.  Documents obtained by Mr. Mocek in response to his requests under New Mexico’s public records laws, including police reports and audio recordings, have been posted here.  For further updates, see the ongoing discussion in the travel “security” forum at Flyertalk.com.]

3 thoughts on “Albuquerque police still pressing charges against traveler who tried to exercise his rights

  1. Actually, I hope that the prosecutor doesn’t drop the charges. We need a test case (unfortunately) against the heavy handed nature of the TSA to keep them in check.

  2. Pingback: TSA Detection? - FlyerTalk Forums

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