Newly-appointed Pennsylvania federal District Judge Robert Mariani is getting the best education a new jurist could get – a real life lesson in what it means to have the fundamental right to not have property taken without due process of law. The res (property) at issue is Steve Conklin’s farm, Satori Farm, in northern York County, as discussed in our December 6 Call to Action post.
Due process, in the courts, means hearings, or, more precisely, “notice and an opportunity to respond”. Notice is the “what must I defend against” and opportunity to respond is “what evidence do you have to support your claim”, and the hearing in court, or trial, if you will, is where the evidence is tested. That is the right every American citizen has under our Constitution before property is taken. That is “due process of law”.
Steve Conklin has placed that very simple, yet fundamentally important, issue directly in the hands of Judge Mariani, a lesson in constitutional law 101 for the new judge appointed for life. The essence of Steve Conklin’s claim before Judge Mariani is that he has never been provided with any hearing whatsoever; yet the York County Sheriff’s Office and State Police were amassed on the border of his 112 bucolic acres in rural York County, known as “Satori Farm”, waiting to swoop in and forcibly remove Conklin, his 83 year-old father, and anyone and everyone else on the property, in a literal last-ditch ambush by the lawyers for the courts and the banks to have Mariani vacate the TRO he had entered less than 24 hours previous.
A conference call was held where Conklin thought he was being called to schedule the hearing on the preliminary injunction, but was a backdoor ruse by the other attorneys to have the TRO vacated – with their literal “troops” sitting at the Bethel Church at the top of Boring Bridge Road, just east of the lake in Pinchot Park. There they sat waiting for the call to swoop in, while Conklin, his family, members of Occupy York, Occupy Harrisburg, the Citizens Reform Center, and PCRLN met at the farm to discuss the issues that remained, believing the eviction to have been put off by the federal court, not knowing that they were sitting ducks. Mary Grenen, of the law firm of Grenen & Birsic, representing the banks, proudly boasted to Judge Mariani and Mr. Conklin of the force of sheriff’s deputies, state police, locksmiths, movers, haulers, etc., that she had assembled. The TRO was kept in place, and any problems averted.
From the beginning of his case, Conklin has disputed the amount of the debt, but in good faith, trying to resolve the issue, offered to pay off the entire mortgage, by dividing off a couple of lots, if they could present the original notes and prove the amount allegedly owed. These are disputes that get resolved at hearings. Conklin raised and paid thousands of dollars to get a survey under way to extinguish, upon proof, the alleged debt only to find as he got his first lot approved, the bank changed its mind. Conklin would never see any proof, and has come to find that the banks (yes, plural) have engaged in a massive fraud, as further supported by expert affidavits, that the York Court has continued to help conceal. See the 60 minutes segment in our December 6 post.
In sum, Conklin has denied the allegations, and demanded proof of those allegations against him. This is how you request and preserve a right to a hearing in accordance with principles of due process. Mr. Conklin requested his hearing. He has never been given a hearing, and he has been subjected to an astonishing course of conduct, exercises in deception, misdirection, deceit, and abuse, that is a saga all to its own, parts of which have been told here, and is ready to be separated from his property without a hearing. He is being denied his property without due process of law.
This may be the most basic principle commonly understood by Americans under our constitution today. Conklin is entitled to a hearing under the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause of the federal constitution, and he is asking the federal court to exercise its power to uphold the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects individuals against unconstitutional actions of, in this case, the state courts. It’s simple, and it should be done, and Conklin has filed an additional Motion asking Judge Mariani to recognize these simple principles, and to preliminarily enjoin (put off) the eviction indefinitely, while they sort out the issues on how to restore his right to the hearing that he was clearly denied. Following is a copy of the motion.
Conklin has filed an additional motion asking Mariani to first take up the issue of his recusal – that motion was set forth in the Call to Action post, and to at least temporarily, until the summary relief can be sorted out, extend the TRO. It is in this Motion that Conklin explains the ambush by the lawyers for the banks and the courts, and how the lawyer for the Courts, Gerri Romanello St. Joseph, simply joined in the nefarious plan of the bank to have the TRO upset and the blackshirts swoop in for the eviction – the lawyer for the courts who knew Conklin never got a hearing advocated lawlessness, which our Supreme Court has said it is.
Astonishingly enough, Grenen & Birsic is right back at it, as if they expect Judge Mariani to rule favorably for them again, by already rescheduling the sale to go forward on January 5, 2012, while they are subject to Mariani’s TRO telling them the eviction was off. How can they be so sure that they are going forward with their attack on Satori Farm? Judge Mariani is getting a quick lesson in the awesome power of a federal judge – if he insists on handling this matter despite Conklin’s well-considered motion to the contrary, let’s hope that he uses it wisely, and shows that he is not beholden to the power structure through which he was just elevated to his current status of lifelong tenure removable only for high crimes and misdemeanors, and that he can use that power to do what judges do – protect and uphold the constitution.
We ask you to stay on alert to our continuing efforts in this regard. We are expecting that Conklin will ask the Judge to adjust the January 5, 2012 date, but, in the event that that does not change, we will keep you apprised of the efforts to organize, assemble, and oppose that action by further call to action.
There are many, many very important principles at play in the Conklin litigation – principles that coalesce to reveal that whatever the agenda, be it tea party activism, mortgage fraud exposure, banking excesses, civil rights activism, or whatever the symbol of the movement, there is one thing that they all share in common – until you have courts where you can go in and expect fair treatment and basic due process, none of those agendas will ever find their true strength. Conklin is presenting us all with the opportunity to see that lesson in action. Judge Mariani was confirmed by the full senate not long ago by an 82-13 margin. He needs to get this one 100% right, and the answer will be clearly known soon. We will bring it to you.