Alaska Dispatch published a lengthy update on the case on July 22nd. Here are the most significant highlights, along with some pertinent highlights from other sources:
-- Trial date: Judge David Stewart has now set a state trial date of April 16th, 2012 for all six defendants. A federal trial date of February 6th, 2012 was set earlier.
-- Michael Anderson: Judge Stewart agreed to dismiss the evidence tampering charges against Anderson; prosecutors did not object. His defense attorneys said they were based on hearsay and should be tossed. The remaining charges against Anderson continue in force; Judge Stewart said it could be a few weeks before he came to any conclusions about whether they are sustained by sufficient evidence. Judge Stewart also denied Anderson's request for bail because he didn't believe the people Anderson had lined up as third party custodians were good choices.
-- Rachel Barney: Tried to get her charge of hindering prosecution dropped. Her attorney, Gary Stapp, tried to convince Judge Stewart that as a gracious hostess who had welcomed Cox into her home, Barney was unaware of the scope of the trouble Cox had gotten himself into. However, prosecutors insisted that the lengthy time that Barney was exposed to Cox implies that she had to have known. "Hindering prosecution" is an administrative charge generally dumped on someone as an inducement to get them to roll over on co-defendants. Judge Stewart would not drop the charge, but agreed to review it.
-- Coleman Barney: Back on June 24th, a Fairbanks judge agreed to reduce Coleman Barney's bail from $2 million to $100,000 after a letter-writing campaign by members of Barney's LDS congregation in North Pole, AK. Many members of the Eielson Ward wrote letters attesting to his integrity, honesty, morality, faith accountability, and patriotism. But federal prosecutors are holding firm for no bail, releasing pictures and details of some of the evidence they seized after Barney's arrest, including more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition, and illegal weapons.
-- There are two websites dedicated to the support of Schaeffer Cox; Stand By Schaeffer, and a Schaeffer Cox Facebook page (must sign in to view it).
Some voices have been crying in the wilderness over the practice of inventing huge conspiracy theories and then, fueled by informants who often incite provocative or outright illegal behavior, load victims up with charges through the process of charge-stacking. In his book entitled "The Tyranny of Good Intentions: How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice", Paul Craig Roberts discusses the slow death of due process in the United States. He blames the Reagan and Bush administrations' wars on crime and drugs for institutionalizing many of the problems developing. Here's an excerpt of Peter Brimelow's analysis (after the jump):
Historically, Roberts argues, Americans enjoyed the protection of what were termed "the Rights of Englishmen" by 18th-century jurist Sir William Blackstone, whose Commentaries on the Laws of England was a bestseller in the 13 colonies. The broadest of these was the right to due process. That meant punishment by dint of laws and evidence rather than, as has been the case in much of human history and is still the case in much of the world, by dint of a dictator's fiat. A related notion is that there should be no bills of attainder, legislation designed to criminalize a specific individual.
Other rights: to have the confidential assistance of an attorney; to confront adverse witnesses; to be protected from self-incrimination; to demand that the prosecution prove not just an evil deed but an evil intention (called mens rea); and to be protected from retroactive laws. Another English concept was that the government should not go after people by making arbitrary attacks on their property.
Most of these protections were enshrined in our Bill of Rights. And yet most have been subtly but steadily eroded in the U.S., Roberts maintains. "They can seize anyone, and any property, at any time," he says of today's law enforcement agencies. For example, civil cases are now often criminalized, through "novel theories" of the law invented by prosecutors to target specific defendants - very much like a bill of attainder. Plea bargains, traditionally frowned on by English courts because of possible coercion, now conclude 90% to 95% of federal criminal cases, increasing the prosecutors' incentive to pile on indictments - in effect, torturing the defendant - and, in the absence of a court test, reducing the incentive for careful, or even honest, police work. You get an idea of what is going on when you see a newspaper story about a crime (often a white-collar crime) in which there is a detail like this: "If convicted on all counts, so-and-so would be subject to a sentence of 120 years." It seems that every misdeed becomes, in the statute books, a panoply of offenses like money laundering and racketeering. By throwing a large statute book at a defendant, the prosecutor can blackmail the culprit (or an innocent person) into a plea bargain.
In the old days punishments were harsh, but they were not arbitrary. You could be hanged for stealing a sheep, but you would not also be charged with conspiracy to commit sheep stealing, willful evasion of taxes on stolen sheep and diminishing the civil rights of the sheep owner. Attacks on property? Asset forfeiture, aimed at drug dealers when radically extended by Congress in 1984 but now covering 140 other offenses, allows seizure on "probable cause" - i.e., at the discretion of police and prosecutors. Proceeds go to the seizing agency, creating a corrupting motive.
The last paragraph described the Schaeffer Cox Six case to a T, except no "sheep" was actually stolen. About the only charge that might carry any constitutional weight might be the weapons charges, particularly the machine gun. The rest of the docket appears to be built upon a house of cards.