OccupyTheCourts.org

Taking America Back - One Court Case at a Time

On September 17, 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement began in Manhattan's Financial District when thousands of people joined together to fight against the corrosive power of Wall Street.  A few months later, this site was founded to support those who are attempting to changes things for the better through the court system.  

Take Chris Hedges, for example ...

Chris spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

On January 16th of this year, Chris announced that he was suing President Barack Obama.  He was upset that the President had signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), authorizing military detention without charge into law for the first time in American history. The NDAA’s dangerous detention provisions would allow the president to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison any person (U.S. citizens included) located anywhere in the world.

Here's what Chris had to say about the NDAA:

    I spent many years in countries where the military had the power to arrest and detain citizens without charge. I have been in some of these jails. I have friends and colleagues who have “disappeared” into military gulags. I know the consequences of granting sweeping and unrestricted policing power to the armed forces of any nation. And while my battle may be quixotic, it is one that has to be fought if we
    are to have any hope of pulling this country back from corporate fascism.

On May 16th, Chris's efforts were rewarded when federal judge Katherine Forrest issued an amazing ruling that stops the enforcement of the highly controversial provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act.  While this is just a temporary ruling and subject to ongoing litigation, it confirms the power of this approach.

Not just for High-Profile Journalists

The approach used by Chris is available to any U.S.citizen, especially those who can afford legal counsel, or those who can find a pro-bono law firm or non-profit to support their case.  For example, attorney Heather McKeever recently filed this class action lawsuit in support of homeowners against foreclosure abuses.  She is sharing it here so that others may build on her efforts.  

Unfortunately, the number of people who can afford the ten of thousands of dollars required to pursue these actions is very small.  Likewise, the number of non-profits and pro-bono law firms who can financially support these actions is small as well.  If we are to get any traction in the courts, we will need a more powerful approach ...

People-Powered Court Actions

The good news is, "The right of a party to a legal action to represent his or her own cause has long been recognized in the United States, and even predates the ratification of the Constitution." These so-called "pro se" civil actions are inexpensive for the common person, but remain very expensive to the corporate entities that must hire a team of lawyers to defend their interests.  This mismatch in cost structure, is a great equalizer between the money and power of corporate entities, and the common people.

When combined with the power of the Internet, we now have a great venue for sharing and learning from each other.  All federal court cases are online, and many state court records are as well.  There are also online resources like The Federal Practice Manual for Legal Aid Attorneys and Google research which are available for free.

To get an idea of what "we" can do, here's a filing by OccupyTheCourts asking Judge Collyer to reconsider the Multi-State Fraudclosure Settlement.  It's based on a claim that the settlement violates the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Since this filing was submitted after the initial ruling, it was up to the judge whether to allow it or not.  As expected, she declined to allow the motion.  However, the basis for the filing is applicable to many other fraudulent actions being perpetrated by large corporate entities.  It is shared freely here, so that others may build upon it in their own actions.

If you'd like to learn more about filing your own legal actions, please visit our sister site at ProSeAction.org.  If you'd like to keep up with people-powered court actions, please "like" our Facebook page, or visit our Recent News page often.

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