And here are footnotes:
[ . . . yes, I won't belabor the point, but since those uninitiated in the true state of today's criminal injustice system should at least have SOME particulars, I provide the following. After all -- to those who haven't been around, "coerced" is a strong word . . . The following is an excerpt from Meditopia®, Chapter 3 ]
Plea Agreement: A Study in Torture & Coercion
"Truth is the plea bargaining process's greatest casualty. Yet, the justice system's movers and shakers -- prosecutors, judges, defense lawyers -- show little concern for truth. This is apparent from how the plea bargaining process works. Terror, not truth, is its hallmark." (p. 86)
Paul Craig Roberts
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Treasury
Other notable figures have eloquently expressed in concrete terms how and why the modern "plea bargaining" process as perfected in the U.S. criminal justice system is an exercise in torture and coercion. (See table at right). Although the plea bargaining process has been depicted in U.S. media as an unending source of leniency for hardened criminals and all manner of no-do-gooder, the reality is that, more times than not, the plea agreement short-circuits justice, allows prosecutors to hide unspeakable crimes of their own, and provides the veneer that not only is criminal justice fair AND efficient, but effective (after all, federal apologists like to brag that over 95% of all arrests end up in plea agreements). The truth is that it is difficult to conceive of a mechanism that would more perfectly act as a suppressor of truth and a determinant of real crime.
In federal prison, the saying goes: "There are two kinds of inmates. The ones who pled and the ones who wish they'd pled." I can say from personal experience that such common penal coinage does not grow from a rosebed of cynicism. It sprouts from the common experience of untold thousands of inmates. No one I spoke to in the entire time I was imprisoned would attempt to dispute the veracity of that adage: not those who committed real crimes, not those who are targeted for political reasons (a shockingly high percentage), and certainly not those who are railroaded by the U.S. Government's massive asset confiscation vacuum cleaner.
No words can begin to replicate the experience of coming to court (in this case, with my wife and attorney), being presented with a near one-inch thick stack of papers, and being told that you have 30 minutes to read everything, sign it, and "plead" before a federal judge -- especially when you've read a sufficient body of the text to know that the charges to which you are pleading are not only false, but are breathtakingly out of step with what you absolutely know to be true. Now, a good criminal attorney would come to his client beforehand and discuss the documents in advance. Perhaps he might argue with the prosecutor that there might be advantages to crafting the plea documents so that they at least "sounded" truthful. Unfortunately, the $50,000.00 I paid to Lewis Unglesby, my defense counsel, was, by all appearances, insufficient to have included this in his services. (In fact, I doubt that for all services rendered, Unglesby spent more than 25 hours on my case. I only met him five times -- and all interactions were themselves exercises in legal minimalism and social deconstructionism. His "bedside manner" was the worst of any professional whose services I ever retained. As I told my wife, "Did we have to hire the Marquis de Sade to represent me?")
The untruthful foundations for the plea agreement weren't simply irritating for their inaccuracies, it was the knowledge that even the prosecutor knew they weren't truthful. (When one of our attorneys asked the lead prosecutor how he could present such a ridiculous document, he replied, "You do your job or you lose your job!") As the plea hearing got underway I realized I was travelling through a surrealistic legal version of "Alice in Wonderland."
Judge: "Would you please explain to me in your own words what it is that you're here to do today."
Author: "I'm here to enter pleas to protect my wife and my employees and others." (Official plea hearing transcript, p. 5, L. 22-25)
That should do it, I thought. Perhaps the judge will see that this process is coercive and somehow the process will shift to something actually factual. Maybe.
Judge: "Okay. But, now, you need to help me with this . . . Now I really need for you to help me with what you're actually saying . . . " (Transcript, p. 6, L. 1-11).
Okay . . . well . . . up to this point, I had tried to be polite. That's important, right? I mean . . . I can't just stand here before the judge and say, "Listen, why can't we just be honest? You know this plea agreement is full of lies. I absolutely know it's full of lies. Is it that much trouble to come up with something that isn't fantasy?" -- (and I had signed it at that point, skimming through it just to hit the high points -- but I had not actually READ it through thoroughly. There was no time for that. The Courts don't think it's important for Defendants to actually read the plea agreements that the DOJ comes up with. I know for a fact that Lewis Unglesby didn't care.).
Author: "I understand, Your Honor. Well, there are accuracy issues in the pleas, but -- I'm sorry. Specifically, what do you want to know, Your Honor?" (Transcript, p. 6, L. 12-14; emphasis added).
This is about are far as a defendant in a U.S. criminal case can go to telling a judge in a plea hearing that he's being coerced with a plea agreement that is -- to use vernacular well understood anywhere in America -- full of bullshit. Did the judge take the hint? Did he think, "The Defendant has just told me that the plea agreement isn't accurate. Maybe I should ask why he thinks it's not accurate!"?
Of course not.
For the judge to be concerned about the accuracy of a plea agreement, facts have to matter. Truth must have meaning. In an out-of-control empire, like the U.S., the gravitational lines of power are warped around the desires of an executive branch that has completely subsumed the other two branches of government. All attempts at truthfulness are sucked into the prosecutor's blackhole -- something I still wasn't realizing.
Judge: "Now, Mr. Caton, have you had ample opportunity to discuss your case with Mr. Unglesby?"
Author: "Well, I just got the -- this paperwork -- just about an hour ago, so -- and I've signed it. So I would say I haven't had a lot of time, but I've had enough time to sign the documents." . . .
Judge: " . . . do you feel like you need more time . . . "
Author: "In all candor, Your Honor, I don't think it would affect the outcome." (Transcript, p. 7, L. 24 to p. 8, L. 14).
I'm not sure there is a way, in English, to more politely say to someone the Truth doesn't matter. But, hey, maybe we can use something stronger:
Author: "If this document said I must serve five years in prison because I improperly emptied a kitty litter box, I would be forced to sign that. I don't really have a choice in the matter . . . What this [plea agreement] says [is], it doesn't matter whether it's truth or not, I have to sign it." Transcript, p. 9, L. 15-18 and p. 10, L. 5-6; emphasis added).
What ensued thereafter was a statement by the judge that he didn't think he could fairly accept my plea, followed by ramblings from my pseudo-defense lawyer, Lewis Unglesby, that was so at odds with my own knowledge of the facts and the underlying circumstances, that I had to butt in and interrupt my own attorney's conversation with the judge:
Author: "I don't necessarily agree with that."
Judge: "I'm sorry?"
Author: "I don't necessarily agree with that."
Judge: "Well, I tell you what I'm going to do, Mr. Unglesby . . . I'm going to go ahead and take my three o'clock matter. I'm going to give you and Mr. Caton until 3:30. We'll come back at 3:30 . . . "
Transcript, p. 12, L. 1-5).
I could tell that Judge Melançon was trying to do the right thing -- after all, he could have thrown the book at me for not being a good sport and just freely and willingly admitting to things that I knew were false. He was as polite as any judge could possibly be, but the hidden message of this latest instruction was the same: "Mr. Unglesby, you obviously haven't explained how this conviction mill works. You better grab a spare room in the back and explain to your client how things get done around here."
To this point, I made it clear to Judge Melançon that there was no deliberate intention to defraud anyone; that my wife, son, even my employees had been threatened, so thereby I was forced to go along with the plea. I had done everything I could think of to make it clear on the record that coercion was part and parcel of what was going on, without actually coming out and saying that the plea was a completely bogus document. I attempted to fall just short of the line. I was powerless to voice my objection to what was going on in any other fashion. (Again, all of this can be read in the official plea transcript of that hearing.)
Apparently my objecting proved to be more than even Judge Melançon could tolerate. It was then that he interrupted the proceeding and had Unglesby take me and my wife, Cathryn, into a back area behind the courtroom and explain to me how the system "worked."
There was no recording equipment present, but from the recollection of my wife and I the meeting went something like this:
"Do you have any idea what you've just done!" Unglesby broke out steaming, just as soon as we had closed the door and sat down.
"How can you have me sign this?" I shot back. "Okay, so the prosecutor can lie all he wants to. But what about me? If I sign these documents -- and you and I both know they contain false information -- isn't that perjury on my part?"
"Who in the hell do you think you are?" Unglesby volleyed obliquely, ignoring my question, "There are Justice and FDA agents downstairs just hoping you screw this up so they can come back with more charges. They don't like this deal. They think you're coming out of this way too light. But hey, you want to fight the Federal Government, that's your business."
A short pause ensued. I said nothing. Neither did Cathryn.
"Governor Edwin Edwards was a good friend of mine," Unglesby continued, almost musing. "He had access to millions of dollars and he thought he could take these guys on, too. You saw what happened to him, didn't you!"
Another pause ensued -- at which point, sitting there in my orange prison garb -- I was almost beyond words. I looked at Cathryn, knowing that one wrong move could mean her imprisonment and an uncertain future for my son. At issue, besides my disgust with the immorality of the entire process, was a series of yes-no questions that I, and all other federal inmates in my same position, must answer before a judge will accept a plea agreement.
"I tell you what, Lewis," I began bitterly, "I can't answer the questions without your input . . . because if I actually answer the questions that are on this piece of paper with what I KNOW to be the truth, there is no way this judge will accept my plea. So here . . . " [and I symbolically handed Unglesby the pen that was on the table] " . . . you take this pen and write 'Yes' and 'No' all the way down the plea agreement so I don't have to think about what I'm doing and that's how we'll get through this thing."
I almost expected Unglesby to pause and question my approach. But, by now, dear reader, you should know that's pure fantasy. Without skipping a beat, Unglesby proceeded to take the pen and write my answers all the way down the plea agreement. It was then -- and mind you, I can think of no more visceral words to convey how I felt in that moment -- that I felt like I was no more than a fecal turd floating around in Unglesby's toilet: that he could not move fast enough to hit the flush handle; that he could not move fast enough to get rid of me and move onto the next case.
There is no question in my mind that if Lewis Unglesby were asked today if we ever had the above conversation, or if the details provided are accurate, he would deny it. He has to. He cannot admit to what happened. But this recounting is completely accurate to the best of my and my wife's recollection.
[Note: The following are excerpts from Meditopia®, Chapter 1 and 3]:
Sue Gilliatt is a case study is just how outrageous civil litigation has gotten in the U.S. She purchased Cansema® from Alpha Omega Labs in September, 2002 and then claimed that it completely removed her nose. When I was served papers on the lawsuit, I immediately knew that the lawsuit was fraudulent. A close examination of the photographs she submitted with her lawsuit reveals images that can only be produced as a result of surgery. Click to enlarge. My extensive experience in working with escharotic preparations -- an experience that led to my consulting with physicians all over the world -- instantly told me that no escharotic preparation on earth was capable of producing these perfect, symmetrical cut lines. Only a knife can do this. No herbal formula on earth can. So, how much were Sue Gilliatt and her attorneys rewarded for perpetrating a fraud on the courts -- Indiana State and Federal? A cool $800,000 from my insurance company. For filing claims concerning alleged injuries from our "H3O" that could never have occurred, Sharon Lee and her attorney picked up the other $500,000. These parties will never be prosecuted for their crimes, simply because it is against Justice Department policy to admit that their own agents committed felonies in carrying out their duties. Far more likely, is their participation in the cash windfall . . .
Incidentally, Sue Gilliatt's entire deposition can be viewed from this site. It is in DOC file format -- nearly 1.2 megs in size, so please allow time for the download. [Case No. 1:03-CV-1183 LJM-WTL, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division; Sue Gilliatt (Plaintiff) vs. Gregory J. Caton, Lumen Foods Corporation d/b/a Alpha Omega Labs, Dan Raber, Appalachian Herbal Remedies, Pangea Remedies, The Deodorant Stone Co., and DSMC (Defendents).] Ms. Gilliatt sued even though she admitted under oath that her cancer was cured by Alpha Omega Labs' and/or Raber's products. Read end of page 38 through middle of page 39 in the deposition.
[Note: The following is an excerpt from Meditopia®, Chapter 1]:
The concept of "journalism as propaganda," like most things in life, is never grasped as vividly as when you are able to witness it close up. And so it came to pass that while I was in U.S. federal prison (2005), my wife, Cathryn, received a phone call from author, Dan Hurley, who indicated that he was calling to get information about my case. When the subject of FDA abuses came up from my wife, Dan Hurley was quick to interject, "Oh no. That's not what I'm writing about. I'm only out to write the truth . . . "
Soon enough it became apparently that Hurley had already established his informational filters: if what he gathered was largely SUPPORTIVE of orthodox medicine, it had a place in his forthcoming book; if it could discredit natural medicine, he was interested -- the more sensational the better. A predetermined thesis had been created and the author wasn't about to veer from it.
In the end, my place in Hurley's book was not minor. It was upfront and center. In fact, the book begins with a nineteen page Prologue entitled, "Sue Gilliatt's Nose." The portrayal of this alleged victim is intimate, detailed, and sympathetic. He could have placed Sue Gilliatt's position juxtapost to my own. He didn't. He could have listened to my or my wife's side of the events. He didn't. He could have received information showing that Sue Gilliatt and her attorney committed an enormous fraud upon the courts to pilfer $800,000 from my insurance company. None of those details made it into the book because the author made his goal plain and clear to my wife from their first conversation: his goal was to present his prepackaged truth -- one designed to discredit an entire industry that competes with orthodox medicine.
Such is the goal, meaning and purpose of propaganda.
Associates who heard of the book told me to pay no mind. After all, the book (on my last investigation) never managed to ascend above #42,000 on Amazon.com's book sales list. (As one publisher told me jokingly, "That means your mother, two uncles, and a cousin bought` your book. It has no traction with a larger audience.") In fact, I have no doubt that my bringing it up on Meditopia will cause more copies to be sold via those who are merely curious than it has ever sold to date on its own.
But that misses the point entirely.
Endorsed, as it is by such orthodox medical figures as Stephen Barrett with Quackwatch ("a 'must' reading for all Americans ... ") and Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine ("quite simply the best book I've seen on this important subject . . . authoritative"), I would have written Meditopia to counter the breathtaking collage of false and misleading statements if this book had sold no copies at all.
I would have written Meditopia if only because I know that this book reflects how the established medical community thinks; that it is contemptuous of empirical reality; that it perversely opposes the application of a concept so basic and simple that you hear it at many sporting events: "May the best man win," which applied to medicine means "May the treatment that permanently cures the patient and is proven to do so safely, effectively, and inexpensively win"; that I had the power to expose the irreparable cracks in the foundation that is their paradigm -- a system so astonishingly corrupt that it cannot be repaired . . .
In the name of far less noble pursuits are most books written.