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Green Delaware Action Alert #89

Update: “State of Delaware vs.  Alan J.  Muller “
(Or, The crime of lobbying for a healthy environment)

Capitol Police accused of destroying tapes,
not advising Muller of his rights...

Hearing on Motions, February 23, 10:00 AM
Jury Trial, February 27th, 10:00 AM
(Kent County Court House, Dover Delaware)

Port Penn, DE, February 21, 2001.  Many of Green Delaware’s friends know that Executive Director Alan Muller (also editor of Green Delaware News) was arrested on January 16th in Delaware’s Legislative Hall while reporting on the inauguration of Gov. Ruth Ann Minner.   We do not want to focus on this too much, but many have asked for an update.  The short answer is that Muller is still banned from Legislative Hall and a jury trial is scheduled for Feb 27th, starting at nine in the morning.  Since most of us don’t have much experience with the criminal justice system, here are some facts.  Bear in mind that, on the advice of counsel, we are limited in what 
we can say about some things until the criminal case is completed.  A description of what actually happened in Dover on January 16th is in Alert # 87, available on www.greendel.org.

This is a “criminal” as opposed to a “civil” case.  A document called an “information” states “State of Delaware vs.  Alan J.  Muller ...The Attorney General of the State of Delaware ... alleges that ALAN J.  MULLER did commit the following offenses: ... DISORDERLY CONDUCT–DISTURBING ASSEMBLY MEETING OF PERSONS WITHOUT AUTHORITY ... [and] CRIMINAL TRESPASS THIRD DEGREE ... /s/ M.  Jane Brady ATTORNEY GENERAL.”  After police have arrested someone, prosecution is in the hands of the Attorney General’s office and is discretionary.  The Attorney General’s office can decide to 
prosecute or not prosecute.  The prosecutor in this case is Robert J. O’Neill, Chief Prosecutor for Kent County, who said in court on Feb. 9th that Muller’s actions “...crossed the line and became criminal.”  The case is being heard in the Court of Common Pleas before Judge Merrill C. Trader.

Muller is represented by David L.  Finger, a cooperating attorney for the Del. Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.  Finger is known for his interest in cases involving the Bill of Rights.

On Feb 16th, Finger filed a MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE OF STATEMENTS TAKEN FROM DEFENDANT IN VIOLATION OF HIS MIRANDA RIGHTS, stating: “... Mr. Muller went to Dover to gather information about the new administration, specifically about the role corporations were playing in sponsoring the new Governor’s inaugural festivities. ... After Mr.  Muller’s arrest, the Capitol Police continued questioning him, including asking him to identify every organization of which he is a member. ...At no time during any of the above- described interrogations did the Capitol Police advise Mr.  Muller of his Miranda rights.  After being allowed to make a telephone call, Mr. Muller complained to Officer Kashner that he was not given his Miranda warning ... When Mr. Muller asked why he was being handcuffed to the bench, Officer Kashner responded that it was because Mr. Muller complained about not being given his Miranda warnings.”

On Feb 16th, Finger also filed a MOTION FOR A MISSING EVIDENCE INSTRUCTION, 
noting that “Legislative Hall has security cameras ... the proceedings are videotaped.  The defendant filed a discovery motion asking the State to produce that videotape. ... the tapes are usually saved for approximately thirty days ... on or about Feb 9th, 2001, the Capitol Police taped over the videotape, destroying direct evidence which would show exactly what happened in the Chambers. ...” As a matter of ... constitutional due process, the State is required to preserve evidence” ... The Capitol Police have demonstrated a high degree of negligence ... bordering on an indication of bad faith.”  A hearing on these motions, along with a motion by the State, will be held by Judge Trader on Friday, February 23 at 10:00.

Many letters have been sent to Delaware publications, and to the Governor and other officials, objecting to the arrest and banning from Legislative Hall.  Some have been published.  Excerpts:

Joe Parrish (New Jersey/New York Environmental Watch) wrote:” ... M.  Jane Brady, attorney general of Delaware, has shown no interest in prosecuting the big corporate criminals (Texaco, Metachem, Rodel, and so on) whose violations have contributed to making Delaware so polluted and unhealthy.  On the other hand, the attorney general seems to be pursuing blatantly trumped-up charges against Alan Muller of Green Delaware....”

George Jurgenson wrote: “... I am dismayed by Gov.  Minner and House Speaker Terry Spence’s attitudes about the incident. ... Since when it is OK for politicians to deny access to Delaware citizens? ... State officials and politicians could be well served by listening to Mr. Muller regarding our environment.  Apparently lobbyists who represent large campaign donations are allowed access whole those who voice environmental concerns are relegated to the balcony.”

Cyrus Moqtaderi wrote: “... Gov. Minner went so far as to state, “it is the job of the police to determine what is and is not appropriate behavior.”... One expects that sort of statement from a Third World dictator, not the governor of a supposedly democratic state.... Few things are more dangerous to democracy than the abuse of police power to suppress independent points of view....”

Martha Denison wrote: “... I hope the fact that Mr. Muller may not always tell a politician or potential polluter what they want to hear is not the driving force behind his arrest.”

Aaron M. Kromash, (County Coordinator, Green Party of Burlington County, New Jersey) wrote to Gov.  Minner: “... In my personal experience, Mr. Muller is nothing other than an eloquent, principled, and highly dedicated champion of the public interest.  Far from disrupting a legislative session or any other public meeting, Mr. Muller and the Green Delaware membership 
have always been committed to working within the system to clean up the foul waterways, air, and soil of our region, and the equally foul reek of corporate influence in politics.  In this respect, they are arch-conservatives....It is time for you to admit that gross violations of civil rights were committed in this case and to rectify them honestly....”

Let us know what you think. 

Email us at 

GreenDel@dca.net

or contact
Alan J. Muller, Exec. Director
P.O. Box 69
Port Penn, DE 19731
302-834-3466 Voice
302-836-3005 FAX

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All work is done by volunteers and members including this website. 

This page was last updated on  March 1, 2001.
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