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Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent

Steven Howards and his son were walking by a Dick Cheney event this summer in Beaver Creek, on their way to a piano lesson. Howards told Cheney he didn't approve of his war policy. When Howards walked back from the lesson, passing the site again, he was arrested. Charges later were dropped.

Colorado First Amendment Lawyer David Lane (think Ward Churchill) sued the secret service agent today, for violating his First and Fourth Amendment rights. The full complaint is here (pdf). Here are the factual recitations:

6. On June 16, 2006, Vice President Dick Cheney was in Beaver Creek, Colorado, as was Plaintiff, Steven Howards.

7. Mr. Howards was walking in Beaver Creek with his young son who was going to a piano lesson, when he saw Mr. Cheney surrounded by people, shaking hands and posing for photographs in an outdoor mall area.

8. Mr. Howards and his son walked to where Mr. Cheney was standing and Mr. Howards, who was approximately 2-3 feet away from Mr. Cheney addressed the Vice Presidentby saying "I think your policies in Iraq are reprehensible" or words to that effect.

9. Mr. Howards and his young son then walked away to go to the piano lesson where he joined his wife and his other young son.

10. This encounter with the Vice President occurred in plain view of dozens of citizens and numerous Secret Service agents.

11. Approximately five to ten minutes later Mr. Howards and his other son began to
return through the same area.

12. As Mr. Howards and his son approached the area where the initial encounter occurred, they were intercepted by the Defendant who asked Mr. Howards if he had assaulted the Vice President.

13. Mr. Howards, in shocked amazement, denied that he had assaulted the Vice President.

14. At that point, Mr. Howards, in the presence of his young son, was placed in handcuffs and taken to the Eagle County jail where he was searched and detained for several hours.

15. Although the Defendant told Mr. Howards that he was going to be charged with
assaulting the vice-president, the Defendant instructed the Eagle County, Colorado Sheriff's Department to issue Mr. Howards a summons for harassment under Colorado State Law, for harassing the Vice President.

16. On July 6, 2006, the Eagle County District Attorney's office moved to dismiss all charges.

17. On July 10, 2006, the state court dismissed all charges.

18. At no time during these encounters did Steven Howards ever violate any law, federal, state or local.

19. Mr. Howards was arrested without probable cause to believe that he had committed any offense whatsoever.

20. Mr. Howards was arrested in retaliation for his having exercised his First Amendment protected free speech right to speak out to the Vice President and in retaliation for his having exercised his First Amendment right to petition his government.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Wily P. Daniel.

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  • Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#3)
    by Sailor on Tue Oct 03, 2006 at 06:48:52 PM EST
    And some commenters (cough ... ppj ... cough) will still ask what rights we have lost under bush.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Oct 03, 2006 at 07:03:51 PM EST
    reprehensible.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Tue Oct 03, 2006 at 07:03:51 PM EST
    this will be dismissed out of hand, based on the agent's "good faith" assumption that an "assault" was committed. want to put money on it? i know, it's patently absurd, but watch the judge toss it.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#5)
    by Nowonmai on Tue Oct 03, 2006 at 07:14:40 PM EST
    Makes me wonder why every reporter/commentator that has disagreed with ChickenHawk Cheney hasn't also been arrested for 'assault'? Maybe Howards should be glad Cheney didn't mistake him for a bird. *cough cough*

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#7)
    by Sailor on Tue Oct 03, 2006 at 08:55:40 PM EST
    oscar, good point. Haven't heard from you for awhile, write if ya find work ... or another sailboat;-)

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#8)
    by Sailor on Tue Oct 03, 2006 at 09:02:20 PM EST
    This will drag on for several months through discovery and then there will be a settlement.
    Why? do you think the plantiffs are just going for $$? Did it ever occur to you that some people in this country get offended when their rights are taken away? That they'll sacrifice their $$, their freedom and even their lives to protect our democracy?

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Oct 03, 2006 at 09:36:42 PM EST
    It won't be tossed out, there's a factual issue of whether an assault was committed or whether the agent made that up. Even what he believed is a factual issue. This will drag on for several months through discovery and then there will be a settlement.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#9)
    by Gabriel Malor on Tue Oct 03, 2006 at 09:41:12 PM EST
    Oh come on Sailor, what rights has this guy lost? He's suing! Yeah, he was inconvenienced and probably embarrassed in front of his son and community, but he gets to sue and if he's got a good case, he'll win! Just exactly as we'd expect and want (and the same way it's been since well before President Bush's terms). I know one thing's for sure, if I were a jack-booted dictator I sure wouldn't put up with this kinda thing...

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#10)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 05:36:12 AM EST
    Sailor - I found this to be of interest, but it didn't grab me. But, since you want my comment, I can only note that such acts are not limited to Repubs. 1/5/2000 Link Link I could go on and on, but why bother? I think these easily found examples demonstrate that you don't care about facts... BTW - Now, let me see.... We have lost our rights, but this guy is suing... Yep, no doubt about it. Uh huh. Sure. Yeah. Excuse me while I laugh at you. Now. Anybody want to debate the so-called bubble law in the next Open Thread??

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#13)
    by Sailor on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 07:28:23 AM EST
    linking to freepers and dailyrepublican, how droll. "I could go on and on"... you always do.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#14)
    by Sailor on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 07:51:08 AM EST
    He lost his freedom, his dignity and his right to ask questions and a civil suit is his only recourse. That's losing your rights. You don't get that back with $. The SS man being arrested and sentenced for abusing his authority, a public apology by cheney et al and both of them losing their jobs would go a little farther. For incidents like this not to happen is how you know you still have your rights. BTW, I held my nose and followed ppj's links, nothing there, no assault, no arrest reported by anyone but the dailyrepublican blog and only people shouting and yelling getting ejected. Gee, you'd think ppj suddenly supported free speech.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#17)
    by Joe Bob on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 09:57:43 AM EST
    Inconvenienced? I guess that's one way to describe a public arrest, a few hours in the county jail, and a month-long legal fight.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#18)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 11:32:14 AM EST
    Month-long legal fight? With lawyers involved, it can drag into years...even over a petty little incident like this.... And gee Gabriel, when you put it that way, he was just embarrassed in front of his son and neighbors.... Except for his imprisonment, lack of freedom for a few hours, and the incredibly petty manner in which the SS and the VP behaved, what could be wrong with it? And PPJ, you can quote Dem versions of the same story all you want, but I have yet to determine that two wrongs make a right, or get public acceptance of the 'But they did it too, so its ok!" argument when it comes to the illegal detention of a US citizen.....oh wait, was he classified as an enemy combatant? Then why didn't we waterboard him? Find out where the other cronies in his 'terror cell' are hiding!

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#15)
    by mpower1952 on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 11:32:15 AM EST
    I just realized what would convince the repug base that Bush & Cheney are evil, perhaps being hit by lightning at one of their hate gatherings. It would be a message from God that they have been lying.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#16)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 11:32:15 AM EST
    It won't be tossed out, there's a factual issue of whether an assault was committed Where are you getting this out of the case? It HAS been determined there was no assault-no case-or it wouldn't have been dropped.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#20)
    by roy on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 11:49:48 AM EST
    The "inconvience" factor may not be a big deal. I've never had the pleasure of spending the night in jail, but lots of people have, I'm told it sucks but it's not catastrophic. The bigger problem is the ol' "chilling effect". If criticizing your government lands you in jail for a night, well, people will be less likely to criticize the government. Not a subtle thing. That's on top of the usual reasons we ban aggravated kidnapping -- which is what this is, if the agents really had no cause to believe Howards had commited a crime.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#21)
    by Sailor on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 11:53:29 AM EST
    actually, ppj couldn't quote dem versions, only rethuglicans saying there were dem versions.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#19)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 12:32:04 PM EST
    Steven Howards is obviously a terrorist. Gitmo the biatch

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#22)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 12:32:04 PM EST
    The "inconvience" factor may not be a big deal. I've never had the pleasure of spending the night in jail, but lots of people have, I'm told it sucks but it's not catastrophic.
    If you ever find yourself in jail it might not be the jail that sucks.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#12)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 12:32:05 PM EST
    Gabriel, Sure, if you merely said something to a democrat, then were arressted by the Secret Service, you'd go your merry way. You'd be talking about how liberals are becoming paranoid tyrants. Your hypocrisy is rank and so obvious. Evolve a tad, my friend. Can you not even accept how absurd and what an abuse of power this is? Don't you worry when Americans are being arressted for merely SPEAKING DISAGREEMENT to a leader? What America have you grown up in? One where you're supposed to march in a straight line and say yes to everything the government wants? Be serious.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#11)
    by kdog on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 12:46:29 PM EST
    what rights has this guy lost?
    Ummm...his freedom for a short time? Some of us free Americans get riled for being placed in cuffs and a cage for expressing our opinion. We have this crazy idea that it is unamerican.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#23)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 04:47:49 PM EST
    kdog - He lost his freedom, for a short time, and apparently unjustly. But he didn't lose his rights, or else he couldn't be suing. Fred E - I didn't say two wrongs make a right. If you will read it was my response to Sailor, who asked for my comment in his usual snarky uninforned way. et al - My point remains. We have a problem that effects Repubs and Demos. Do you want to discuss how it could be fixed, or do you want to beat up on Repubs with illogical comments.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#25)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 07:58:44 PM EST
    et al - My point remains. We have a problem that effects Repubs and Demos. Do you want to discuss how it could be fixed, or do you want to beat up on Repubs with illogical comments. Since it is being done solely by Republican'ts, who are in control of everything and are opposing attempts to investigate these problems as well as engaging in harrassment of those who would try and use their rights, I would suggest that the first step would be to get rid of the Republican'ts who are controlling whether the discussion can be made at all, and are abusing their power to cause these sorts of incidents in the first place. And, in the second place, I would strongly suggest that you recheck your assertion that the problem is one that Republican'ts and Democratic politicians are engaging in this sort of behavior (harrassing those who try to exercise their right of free speech) with the same frequency and/or the same intensity. I strongly disagree that your links prove any sort of equivalence such as you assert, and ask that you provide unbiased and accurate information when trying to prove your point.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#26)
    by kdog on Thu Oct 05, 2006 at 06:17:53 AM EST
    He lost his freedom, for a short time, and apparently unjustly. But he didn't lose his rights, or else he couldn't be suing.
    Jim...is freedom not a right? Even if he was in cuffs for only 10 minutes, it's 10 minutes too much and totally unacceptable. All he did was speak...our most cherished right. And he was placed in chains for it..literally.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#27)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Oct 05, 2006 at 06:17:53 AM EST
    He would have been safer saying it to Bush... By the time he walked back, Bush still wouldn't have found "reprehensible" in his dictionary!

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#28)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Oct 05, 2006 at 10:29:59 AM EST
    Sailor, You are right. Anyone who can't understand what the outrage is about, is ignorant of our values. They should read Sir Blackstone on founding of our Republic and it's constitution. It's our duty to question or critisize our elected officials.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#29)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Oct 05, 2006 at 11:57:32 AM EST
    Read/listen to the interview with Steven Howard at Democracy Now: http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/10/05/1429248 Still think his arrest is no big deal?

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#30)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Oct 05, 2006 at 01:38:17 PM EST
    The gentleman is a lawyer, lawyers cannot go around getting arrested without being reported the local bar which can take disclipinary actions against the attorney, his reputation and means of income could be negatively affected. How much you want to bet the local Bar is made of mostly republicans.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#31)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Oct 05, 2006 at 08:42:31 PM EST
    You know, if *I'M* employed for the purpose keeping nutcases from blowing my principle away, and someone has a verbal altarcation with him, "Your policies in Iraq are reprehensible *or words to that effect*", {emphasis mine} I'd be more than a little bit concerned if that person wandered off and then came back a little while later. At the very least I'd want to do a fairly thorough job of searching the for weapons. In the interests of thoroughness, I'd probably want to contain the guy long enough to do at least a cursory background check and evaluation. You will note, after all, that the guy was able to leave the area unmolested the first time. What appears to have precipitated his arrest was that he came *BACK*. And so he was held long enough to determine that he did not actually appear to be engaged in an impromptu assassination attempt. And when he proved to be both who he claimed to be, and apparently harmless, he was let go. Seems to me that's what's supposed to happen.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#32)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Oct 05, 2006 at 08:42:31 PM EST
    All the secret service wanted was the guy rid of the guy for awhile. And all the guy wanted was to look like a big shot in front of his son. So, both sides are wrong. You would think this was the first time anyone was arrested for getting in the face of a politician. I've personally seen people arrested for doing the same thing to other politicians, of BOTH parties. So this guy will get his 15 minutes. It gets tiring watching both parties "cherry pick" their story and try to make it look like the other party is some kind of evil incarnate. You keep the party bashing going and going and going. And all you do is reinforce the the seperation instead of trying to work for a common good. You wonder why our politicians are the way they are? Because of people like you. Left wingers, right wingers, unwilling to concede anything to the other. You'd rather hate than compromise. You'd rather fight than work together for a common good. It must feel good to hate so much and so often, because you people sure do enjoy hating. It's sickening, and tiring. So we, the middle 20 to 40 percent voters of the country have to decide who will govern because you all are so blind in your hatred and your party loyalty that you don't pick the right guy for the job, you just vote party line. Listen to your candidate, is he/she actually talking about doing any good, or is he/she just attacking the other candidate trying to make themselves look good by making the other look bad? I'd rather have someone in office that cares about taking care of this country and it's citizens than I would a person that wins by hate.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#33)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Oct 05, 2006 at 08:42:31 PM EST
    I noticed that anything I say will be "held for approval" by the manager of this blog. How quaint, my freedom of speech is subject to the whims of whomever is in power. Sound familiar to what this blog was about? Only I won't be arrested, this time. But what if the owner of this blog were a politician, what then? What would happen if I were to get in his/her face and tell them what I thought of them? Hypocrisy knows no bounds.

    Re: Coloradan Sues Cheney Secret Service Agent (none / 0) (#34)
    by Maria on Tue Oct 10, 2006 at 04:45:32 PM EST
    1984.....