United States District Judge James O. Browning dismissed Transportation Security Administration agents as defendants from a civil lawsuit filed by Phillip Mocek, who is also known as FlyerTalk member pmocek.
Additionally, the judge included language in his ruling reported to be helpful to the defense of aviation police officers of the city of Albuquerque, who were also named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Mary Lou Boelcke — who is the attorney representing Mocek, is expected to appeal the ruling, perceived as a setback by fellow FlyerTalk members hoping to send a message to law enforcement personnel and agents of the Transportation Security Administration against what can be considered as unwarranted and unlawful harassment.
The Gate first reported on this story back in November of 2009 when Mocek — who is based in Seattle — was arrested at a security checkpoint on his way to a flight on Southwest Airlines at Albuquerque International Airport for refusing to show identification upon demand to agents of the Transportation Security Administration.
Mocek had released a video clip of the incident in question:
Fellow FlyerTalk members had rallied for Mocek to the point where they lined up to set up a fund to contribute to his legal expenses.
Mocek was found not guilty in a decision by a jury two years ago, agreeing that he had not performed any illegal action on the day in question. All four charges levied against him were dismissed. At least one FlyerTalk member was in attendance that day in court in support of Mocek when the verdict was announced.
The following video is a report on the acquittal of Mocek by KOB-TV News on Channel 4 in Albuquerque:
A lawsuit filed by the First Amendment Project on behalf of Mocek several months later alleged violations of free speech and free association rights, false arrest and malicious abuse of process, and violations of the state Tort Claims Act as a result of Mocek being prohibited to photograph and film in areas of Albuquerque International Airport accessible by the public — despite the lack of any official prohibition of such actions — and demanded official identification, even when it was not expressly required.
The Transportation Security Administration agents were entitled to dismissal because Mocek had reportedly not demonstrated to the satisfaction of the federal judge violations of the First Amendment when he was ordered by them to cease filming.
Additionally, the court reportedly concluded that the Transportation Security Administration agents did not violate clearly established law when they summoned aviation police employed by the city of Albuquerque because the action was taken after Mocek would not comply with the order by them to stop filming — supposedly entitling the Transportation Security Administration agents to qualified immunity, regardless of the verdict.
Because aviation police employed by the city of Albuquerque had reasonable suspicion that Mocek was engaging in criminal activity at the airport security checkpoint, the arrest and the resulting search were ruled as legal by the federal judge. One FlyerTalk member goes so far as to accuse the judge to be “as crooked as the cops” in Albuquerque.
The city of Albuquerque is expected to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against it by January 29, 2013. Unless the appeal expected to filed by the attorney of Mocek is successful, I doubt that the portion of the lawsuit naming the aviation police employed by the city of Albuquerque will be successful as well.
There are those who have the opinion that Mocek brought all of his legal woes onto himself by not complying with what could be considered simple requests by both the Transportation Security Administration agents and the aviation police employed by the city of Albuquerque. If Mocek had complied with the simple requests, it would have taken no more than seconds of his time and he would have been on his way with no problem.
However, the question here is if any government has a right to place demands on you if the demands do not comply with any known law. This is the issue which people like Mocek and Jonathan Corbett — also known as FlyerTalk member Affection — have which fuels their passion to be activists in a battle against what could be perceived as tyranny imposed on innocent people by the federal government of the United States.
Last week, I posted an image at The Gate — shown above — projected by a full-body scanner equipped with X-ray backscatter technology. Portions of the image had been blurred out because they may be deemed offensive by some readers. The image was released by the Transportation Security Administration — a division of the Department of Homeland Security, a name which I despise, by the way — which is a part of the federal government of the United States of America. How ludicrous to have to censor portions of an image released by a branch of the federal government, I thought to myself — but I must comply with decency laws, as no one should have to be concerned about whether or not The Gate is safe to read for all.
Well, it stands to reason that if I cannot post those images in their entirety because of genitalia clearly shown — potentially considered offensive and even bordering on pornographic — then how can the Transportation Security Administration be allowed to use the controversial full-body scanner machines found at airport security checkpoints throughout the United States on innocent people who have supposedly not committed any crime? I certainly do not want my body photographed absent of clothing without my consent — do you?
There are those who will argue that my consent is implied if I elect to be a passenger who wants to travel by airplane. Sorry — I do not buy that. Rather, implement security measures that do not violate my right to privacy. They do exist. Just because I am in a public place does not mean that anyone has the right to see my naked body…
…and this is my point. No one should be forced to consent to something against their will as egregious as having some stranger view his or her naked body for the sake of safety and security — or the perceived illusion of it. I would rather take my chances, thank you very much — just as I do in virtually everything that I do, whether it is driving a car, heating my home with potentially explosive natural gas, or using any device which emits radiation.
That is the point of Mocek, Corbett and others who take an active stance against governments who impose unreasonable dominance against the wills of innocent people. I do not believe they are “nut cases” in any way, shape or form — they are simply attempting to protect themselves…
…as well as protect fellow citizens such as Steven Frischling and Christopher Elliott, both of whom author weblogs and have been publicly critical of the Transportation Security Administration in the past. Federal agents of the government of the United States published a security directive of the Transportation Security Administration in 2009 outlining new stricter security guidelines in the wake of a failed Christmas Day terrorist attack on Delta Air Lines flight 253, and both Frischling and Elliott reportedly received unceremonious visits from special agents of the Transportation Security Administration in response to publishing the security directive in question. Frischling had his laptop computer temporarily seized as he was questioned for two hours at his home — supposedly in front of his family.
As for me, I am not against security at an airport, or any other act by any government — as long as representatives of the government act in a reasonable manner while still protecting the rights of its citizens. People such as Mocek and Corbett are simply attempting to keep government in check in a civil manner by following all of the rules available to them — and I support their efforts.
What do you believe are the ramifications — if any — of the latest court decision involving Phillip Mocek?