Saturday, February 21, 2009

Super Double Secret

Working away on the appeal letter for the NSA. I'm hoping to mail it next week. I know it's pointless but I have to at least try. I thought now would be a good time to tell you about my 'assistant' as my dear husband likes to call him.

My assistant is a schizophrenic neighbor - one who refuses to take his medication - who has been helping me with legal research. He likes to hang out in the law library so research gives him a good excuse to be there. If I described his general appearance, you'd understand but I don't want to prejudice your views on his character. Maybe one day I'll post a photo. Anyway, it's been a unique experience.

The first day I went by the law library to check it out, I ran into him. Over the next few days, he pretty much tracked me down (in other words, loitered at my front door basically stalking me and asking my neighbors where I was). Once he successfully intercepted me, he asked if he could make copies for whatever it was that I was working on. To be honest, I'm not sure he really understands about the FOIA appeal because he keeps asking when I go to court. I've explained that the first thing I need to do is file a letter appealing the decision to deny the FOI request. The details seem to get lost because he asked again today about my court date.

Anyway, that first day I gave him $20 for a copy card at the law library and suggested he see what he could find out about court cases that successfully overturned Exemptions 1 and 3 of the FOIA. The next day, he was waiting at my front door with a new briefcase (cost: approximately $20). He announced I would be receiving "reports" by mail. "Don't worry," he said, "they're classified." I had absolutely no idea if a report was in the mail literally or figuratively. It's kind of hard to tell with a schizophrenic who refuses to take their medication just where in reality things stand. He requested another $20 as he was getting short on funds. "It's all accounted for. I sent it to my book keeper." And yes, he actually does have a book keeper but that's a side story.

A few days later, next door received a large manilla envelope in the mail addressed to me care of the little shop. The return address was "Bob Smith, Esq." That first report came in a very official looking plastic binder with a cover letter. It was sealed inside of another envelope marked "Classified." I was just looking through the pile. So far, I've received 8 reports - which consist of various pages copied out of various law books, most not really applicable to the matter at hand.

For example, one recent report was a series of pages from the Supreme Court Reporter. I was looking for a specific case, and I guess the name of the Plaintiff was a problem. I received about ten pages from the Reporter for a variety of cases all beginning with the letter A.

I've probably given you the impression that his contributions to the appeal have been fairly useless. Not at all. In fact, it's his decidedly outside of the box perspective I've found very helpful. For instance, I asked him to look up information regarding the 3rd exemption of the FOIA. He came back with information regarding the 4th Amendment as applies to medical files. In other words, Privacy. I hadn't addressed Privacy in my appeal until his research pointed out the oversight.

I've told him repeatedly he doesn't have to mail the reports. But he always responds, in a slightly petulant tone, "I have the stamps."

Today he was really disappointed to learn we're almost done. On the other hand, it might be good timing. He goes back to court on Wednesday and he might not fare so well this time. You see, he usually represents himself and more importantly - he wins. Which, as one friend who knows him pointed out - what does that really say about the state of our legal system?

If I actually go ahead and follow this all the way to court, he'll be ecstatic. I can just picture him telling a judge he can't possibly go to jail for disturbing the peace because he's the lead attorney on a suit against the National Security Agency. I think I might stand a good chance of winning just on the basis of his participation.

I'm really tempted to scan and post one of his cover notes to me. But since they're classified, I really can't. They're secret.


Megan said...

What a charming story - I love this!

Susie Dow said...

Poor guy.

He'd taken to introducing himself as my lawyer. It was catching on so other folks from around the neighborhood were starting to refer to him as my lawyer too.

I think he's gotten a little depressed since I mailed off the appeal.

Susie Dow said...

By the way, yes, he won his case. He was so pleased with the outcome that he wrote up a report for me that outlined his winning strategy. Complete with various Latin law terms.