Featured Cases

Phil Mocek was arrested by Albuquerque aviation police at a TSA checkpoint at the Albuquerque International Sunport on November 15, 2009. He had a valid ticket on Southwest Airlines (“You are now free to move about the country”), and was attempting to get to his flight. Like the “Freedom Riders” of the 1960s on interstate buses, Mr. Mocek sought to exercise his Federally and Constitutionally-guaranteed right to travel, but was arrested by local police false and trumped-up a charges of violations of state and local laws and ordinances. On January 21, 2011, Mr. Mocek was acquitted by a jury on all counts.

Following his acquittal (see above), Phil Mocek brought suit in Federal court against Albuquerque police and TSA checkpoint staff for violating his civil rights by trying to prevent him form (legally) filming and recording what happened to himself at the TSA checkpoint, falsely arresting him in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights, and seizing and trying (unsuccessfully, fortunately) to erase the recordings from his camera. On Dceember 22, 2015, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity because, although their action probably violated Mr. Mocek’s Constitutional rights, those rights were not yet “clearly established” at the time.

In 2007, journalist and travel expert Edward Hasbrouck tried to find out what records the U.S. government was keeping about his international travel by asking asking for his files under the Privacy Act and the Freedom Of Information Act. After dragging its feet for three years on his appeal of the obviously incomplete initial response (they later claimed to have lost all record of the appeal), the government retroactively exempted the Automated Targeting System from the Privacy Act. In 2010, Mr. Hasbrouck sued U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Federal court in San Francisco. On January 23, 2012, the District Court upheld the retroactive application of the self-exemption by CBP to Mr. Hasbrouck’s request which had been made three years earlier.

Deborah Davis thought she’d save gas and money by taking the bus to work, but she was arrested by Denver “Federal Protective Service” cops when they searched everyone on the public RTD bus, demanding “ID” from every passenger.  She had an ID but thought she didn’t live in a totalitarian state.  Public pressure forced the feds to drop the case.

Alaskans are particularly sensitive to governmental restrictions on their freedom.  A group of them are fighting in federal court against the government’s incursions on their rights.  In 2004, they brought a case challenging the CAPPS II program.  The government abandoned the CAPPS II program, but revived under the new name of “Secure Flight”.  In 2005, they were able to show, through records requests, that the Secure Flight program did not work.  The government set back its schedule to implement the program, but it went into operation in 2008.

The United States is a hard place to travel without your “papers”, and John Gilmore sued to uphold his right to travel by common carriers (trains, airplanes, buses, and ships) by merely paying the published fare and following the published rules.  The government claimed he can’t travel without getting and showing a “government-issued photo ID” (but they won’t even publish the rules that supposedly say so).  After the March 2004 District Court dismissal and the Ninth Circuit 2005 rejection of Mr. Gilmore’s appeal, a petition for cert was rejected by the Supreme Court in January of 2007.

Larry “Dudley” Hiibel was standing by the side of the road, having a smoke outside the pickup truck his daughter was driving, when a policeman confronted him and demanded his ID card.  He declined numerous times, and the policeman arrested him, then yanked his daughter out of the car and threw her on the ground.  Since he hadn’t been doing anything wrong, he was arrested for failure to follow a state law that required those “suspected of a crime” to state their name if asked for it.  His arrest and subsequent conviction were upheld by the Supreme Court, leaving the right to remain silent in jeopardy, as well as the right to live anonymously.