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Home > Alerts & Updates > 2015 Bill Tracking Page > SB 214: Veteran Disarmament Courts


senate sponsor,
Peter Knudson

house sponsor,
Paul Ray
Senate Bill 214: Veteran Disarmament Courts

by statutator Peter Knudson, senate district 17, "Republican".

Summary: SB 214 establishes "veterans courts", modeled directly after Soviet-style "drug courts".  These Kangaroo Courts require court dictators (i.e. "judges"), prosecution teams, defense counsels, state agencies, and federal agencies, to closely "collaborate" and "cooperate" as glorified social workers with a political agenda.

As will be demonstrated, the ultimate aim of SB 214 is to further manipulate veterans, strip them of their rights and dignity, and prohibit them from keeping and bearing arms.

Position: UT Gun Rights opposes this bill.  See its bill status page.  To contact your statutators, click here.

Status: ENACTED. This bill unanimously passed (6 yeas, 0 nays, 1 absent) Wayne Niederhauser's hand-picked judiciary, law [sic] enforcement, and criminal justice committee, unanimously passed the senate (25 yeas, 0 nays, 4 absent/not voting), passed Greg Hughes' hand-picked house law [sic] enforcement & criminal justice committee (10 yeas, 0 nays, 1 absent), and passed the house (58 yeas, 1 nay, 16 absent/not voting), and was signed by Gary "BB Gun" Herbert.

"REFRESH" this page to see latest version.  Last updated: 4/3/15 at 12:20 PM.

Jump Down to Topics:

1. What are "Veterans Courts"?

2. Entire Court Gangs Up Against Defendant

3. Will Veterans be Bullied to Participate?

4. Lip Service to Veterans' Rights

5. Modeled after Soviet-Style Communism

6. Real Agenda: Disarm Veterans — Permanently

7. States Are Key to Disarming Veterans

8. Appropriate Action: Contact the Two Bullies Who Dominate Your Statutators

 


Click picture to enlarge.
What are "Veterans Courts"?

SB 214 creates special "veterans courts" for those who meet the following criteria:

"Screening criteria for participation in a veterans court program shall include:
(a) a plea to, conviction of, or adjudication for a criminal offense;
(b) frequent alcohol and other drug testing, if appropriate;
(c) participation in veteran diversion outreach programs, including substance abuse treatment programs where appropriate; and
(d) sanctions for noncompliance with diversion and substance abuse programs' requirements." [bold added]

Note that the term "include" does not preclude coercing other participants to participate.  In fact, as amended, SB 214 implies that veterans may be forced to participate in these "veterans courts".

SB 214 requires participating veterans to be subjected to a "collaborative strategy" and "cooperative approach" between an unaccountable* court dictator (i.e. "judge"), prosecution team, defense counsel, corrections agencies, substance abuse treatment "services", and the infamous U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) "Veterans Justice Outreach Program".
*Note: The Utah governor, without any substantive review or confirmation process, hand-picks all voting members of "judicial nominating commissions." These commissions select judicial candidates, the governor selects his favorite, and his favorite is confirmed by the state senate.  The "judicial council" selects court commissioners, who are deemed "quasi-judicial officers of courts of record".  Sources: Utah Constitution, Art. VIII, Sec. 8, and state statutes 20A-12-201, 78A-5-107, 78A-10-103, 78A-10-105,78A-10-202, and 78A-10-204.  In order for voters to remove a judge, over 50 percent of them must be sufficiently angry at him/her to vote "no" on his/her judicial retention election.  Imagine how many lives a judge can destroy before half the voters voted "no"?

The Obama regime advocates "veterans courts" (or "veterans treatment courts") as follows:

"Based upon the success of drug courts and a pronounced need to address challenges unique to our Nation’s veterans, Veterans Treatment Courts (VTCs) are being established in jurisdictions across the country. VTCs utilize the same rigorous protocol of treatment and personal accountability to treat veterans suffering from a substance abuse and/or mental health disorder, while helping ensure public safety." [bold added]

According to the national Center for State Courts "Veterans Courts Resource Guide":

"The first veteran’s court opened in Buffalo, N.Y. in 2008. The veteran’s court model is based on drug treatment and/or mental health treatment courts." [bold added]

Government and pseudo-government sources boldly parade supposed "drug courts" success stories. Critics across the political spectrum paint a very different picture, citing gross human rights abuses and the destruction of authentic due process.  Here are a few examples:

"Reevaluating Drug Courts: No Mother Should Have to Go Through What I Did," by Elaine Pawlowski  Huffington Post, July 29, 2013.

"Want to Go to Drug Court? Say Goodbye to Your Rights", by Mike Riggs, Reason magazine, August 17, 2012.

"Drug Courts are Not the Answer", by the Drug Policy Alliance, March 2011.

"Therapeutic Jurisprudence: Embracing a Tainted Ideal," by former Utah juvenile court judge Arthur Christean, June 2002.

 Subsequent topics focus on how these broad "collaborations" in both "drug courts" and "veterans courts" destroy the very essence of traditional American jurisprudence and threaten the safety and well-being of those subjected to them.

Back to Topics


"Have we got a deal for you veterans!"
Entire Court Gangs Up Against Defendant

When you read terms like "collaborative" and "cooperative" in statute, what is your gut reaction?  Without reading further, how comfortable would you be with all these parties working closely together for your supposed benefit?  If you feel less than enthusiastic, you are not alone.

Take court dictators (i.e. "judges"), for instance.  Ideally, he/she is supposed to act as a referee to assist the jury in determining whether a statute was violated and whether that statute is reasonable or unreasonable.  Less ideally, he/she is currently tasked to determine a sentence based upon a guilty verdict given by the jury (this task should ultimately be in the hands of the jury as well).

Under SB 214 "veterans courts", however, court dictators would be required to surrender even a semblance of objectivity.  He/she now assumes the mantle of an all-powerful social worker and head of a "clinical team" that pursues a "therapeutic process".  Consider how these "clinical teams" operate in "drug courts" and inevitably in "veterans courts":

"When acting as a member of a clinical team bent on achieving certain outcomes, judges cannot avoid unethical ex parte communications, that is, discussion of the case with one party outside the presence of the other party. Ex parte communications are traditionally a serious ethical breach for judges, but such communications form a regular part of the therapeutic process. Further, when judges become the central focus of the entire effort as the enforcer of the treatment team's decisions, rather than an independent adjudicator of the facts and the law, the appearance of bias cannot be avoided. To the defendant, the judge becomes simply 'one of them.'" [bold added]
Source: "Therapeutic Jurisprudence: Embracing a Tainted Ideal," former Utah juvenile court judge Arthur Christean, June 2002.

In other words, court dictators would be unable to avoid blatant conflicts of interest that would inevitably arise from these communications.  They would be required to pursue, and achieve, pre-determined social outcomes that may have little, or nothing, to do with the defendant's alleged crime. 

In these compromising environments, the defense counsel would no longer remain focused on defending innocence, in helping the defendant challenge and resist the injustice of absurd statutes, or necessarily to obtain as light a sentence for the defendant as possible.  Rather, the defense counsel would be required by statute to work together with the prosecution and government agencies to make you a more politically-correct person.

Consider this warning regarding "drug courts" — again from which "veterans courts" are admittedly modelled:

"'In many drug courts,' says Elizabeth Kelley of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 'the defense attorney is asked to forfeit the traditional role of being the zealous advocate of the client, and is asked to be part of the proseuctor or judge as part of treatment.' Federal drug court guidelines say that defense attorneys are to 'explain all of the rights that the defendant will temporarily or permanently relinquish,' and then work with prosecutors 'to build a sense of teamwork and to reinforce a nonadversarial atmosphere.'"
Source: "Want to Go to Drug Court? Say Goodbye to Your Rights," by Mike Riggs, September 17, 2012.

Corrections and substance abuse "experts" salivating at the potential for increased government employment opportunities, benefits, and retirement would also "collaborate" and "coordinate" with the court dictator, prosecution, and defense, prior to sentencing; rather than waiting for the sentence to be delivered and performing their function independently.

The VA would further obsure this mess by dangling carrots in the form of perverse incentives to state and local budgets, and by pressuring veterans in other ways (discussed below).

You, the defendant, would stand very much alone.

Back to Topics


"You better go... or else."
Will Veterans be Bullied to Participate?

As previously mentioned, the most recent version of SB 214 implies that veterans may be forced to participate in these "veterans courts".  As is apparent to critics of "drug court" schemes, once federal and other grant monies flow into the process, participation can be coerced through multiple avenues of attack.

Court dictators (i.e. "judges"), as leaders of these "treatment teams", would have megalomaniacal and perverse funding incentives to expand these courts and affiliated programs by cajoling, threatening, and otherwise pressuring more veterans into participation.  Would you feel comfortable serving as a test case for a judge's ethical and/or moral courage?

The prosecution and defense, now completely aligned within this perverse "therapeutic" infrastructure, may be motivated to induce veterans to plead guilty with glamorous assurances of obtaining a "better outcome" in these special courts.  Once trapped, veterans must comply with every team whim, or face punishment with no realistic recourse.

VA administrators could reinforce this enslavement, to theoretically include withholding certain federal benefits and services for veterans who resist these "collaborative efforts".

Back to Topics


Utah: This is NOT the place for veterans.
Lip Service to Veterans' Rights

SB 214 claims, "A veterans court program shall... promote public safety, [and] protect participants' due process rights..."  Notice which priority is listed first.

How could SB 214 "protect participants' due process rights"?  As UT Gun Rights has pointed out in, "Courts of InJustice versus Clark Aposhian", this rhetoric is meaningless in Utah's criminal injustice industry where,

"...unreasonable seizures occur, the right to Counsel is effectively denied, the right to a public trial by an impartial jury is obstructed, and deprivation of life, liberty, and property may occur without authentic due process of law."

Utah prosecution teams, courts, and agencies have already demonstrated their callous disregard for veterans and their sufferings.  Consider Utah veteran Matthew Stewart, whose home was violently invaded in the night by the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force thug squad.

Stewart, who statute enforcement agents (SEAs) knew suffered from post traumatic stress and was almost certainly asleep, believed he was under attack by a violent gang, and defended himself, killing and wounding several officers, and being seriously wounded in the process.  During the public show trial that ensued, Stewart apparently lost all hope of being treated fairly and took his own life in prison.  Where were all of Utah's so-called veteran supporters?

And how absurd is it to pretend that the VA has expressed any interest in the rights, let alone dignity, of American veterans?  Recent stories of veterans who died after being placed on secret lists purposely denying them care, VA falsification of records to appear to be treating ill veterans quickly, and overall gross mistreatment tell the real story.

Where were the self-proclaimed VA champions of veterans who suffer from post traumatic stress in Matthew Stewart's case?  Why did they not attempt to publicly intervene and assist him?

The overwhelming government message is clear: Veterans are expendable tools to expand the criminal injustice industry and corrupt political power.

Back to Topics


"Let's discuss the details of your
re-education program, Comrade.
"
Modeled after Soviet-Style Communism

As mentioned previously, "veterans courts" are modeled after popularized "drug courts".  According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, veterans courts "use a hybrid integration of Drug Court and Mental Health Court principles".

These "principles" embrace a political doctrine known as "therapeutic jurisprudence", or "therapeutic justice".  In 2002, former Utah juvenile court judge, Arthur Christean, exposed the dangerous follies of this doctrine in an article entitled, "Therapeutic Jurisprudence: Embracing a Tainted Ideal".

After detailing many of its practical flaws, Christean discussed its close relationship to philosophies espoused by the former Soviet Union:

"Therapeutic jurisprudence, and recent legislation influenced by it, appears to share some of the prominent characteristics of Soviet-style law...

"In the former Soviet Union, courts and judges were expected to implement state policies and demonstrate loyalty to the philosophical premises supporting them. Unlike the United States Constitution, the Constitution of the USSR established the law as an instrument of the state's will—the 'people's will'—not as a limitation upon the state. With such a view of the purpose of the law, it is not surprising that such a legal system would fundamentally differ from the American system...

"The first major difference between Soviet and American legal systems, and the first major parallel between the Soviet system and therapeutic jurisprudence, is the separation of powers. As noted above, the therapeutic justice model undermines our traditional separation of powers. The creators of the Soviet legal system rejected the concept of separation of powers, and checks and balances between branches of government...

"Soviet legal codes tended to include a great deal of policy pronouncements and statements of political and social theory, another area where this model resembles the therapeutic jurisprudence model but differs from the American model. Soviet courts were expected to act in harmony with policy pronouncements and to enunciate rules of public order promoting the collective welfare of the state...

"Soviet judges did not function under the traditional ethical standards that restrain American judges and acted with little concern for judicial impartiality and procedures that American courts refer to as 'due process.' Soviet judges were free to engage in ex parte communications, conduct their own interrogations and engage in prosecutorial activity."

Exchange the term "drug courts" with "veterans courts" and Christean's expose is entirely applicable to the fatal flaws proposed by SB 214.

Back to Topics


Gun Control 101: Neutralize any potential threat to the gun control agenda.
Real Agenda: Disarm Veterans Permanently

Many veterans have extensive combat training and experience.  As such, they pose a potential, formidable, defensive resistance against the federal regime's tyrannical gun control programme. Their life and death experience are also scary to anti-gun zealots like Executive Monarch Gary Herbert, who believes that government should, for instance, require background checks for BB guns.

Therefore, the federal government has comprehensively targeted veterans for lifetime firearms bans — without authentic due process.  In 2007, the federal regime enacted HR 2640, which funneled massive resources, and opened veteran records, to the scrutiny of the National Instant Check System (NICS).  According to Gun Owners of America,

"The core of the bill's problems is section 101(c)(1)(C), which makes you a 'prohibited person' on the basis of a 'medical finding of disability,' so long as a veteran had an 'opportunity' for some sort of 'hearing' before some 'lawful authority' (other than a court)," the organization said in a new criticism of the plan. 'Presumably, this 'lawful authority' could even be the psychiatrist himself,' the organization said.

"Note that unlike with an accused murderer, the hearing doesn't have to occur. The 'lawful authority' doesn't have to be unbiased. The veteran is not necessarily entitled to an attorney – much less an attorney financed by the government,' the group said."
Source: "Gun Owners 'Get Stabbed in Back'", World Net Daily, 12/23/07.

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published, "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment."  With regard to veterans, the report claimed the following on page 2:

"The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks." [page 2, bold added]

The footnote at the bottom of page two claimed the following:

"Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration." [bold added]

Federal agents predictably downplayed the significance of this report to the public.  Then-DHS director anet Napolitano also "apologized".

This DHS report was hardly conducted in a vacuum, however.  It was published by the DHS's Office of Intelligence and Analysis, and, according to page 1 of the report itself, was,

"Prepared by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch, Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division. Coordinated with the FBI."

In 2012, the federal regime produced the "Report on VA Facility Specific Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation New Dawn (OND) Veterans Coded with Potential PTSD - Revised".  This report claimed that a quarter of a million returning veterans have been "coded" as having "potential PTSD".  These veterans are key targets of the gun control apparatus.

The disturbing nature of this federal gun control effort against veterans is gradually coming out.  Here are a few examples from alternative news sources:

"Operation Vigilant Eagle: Is This Really How We Honor Our Nation's Veterans?" by John Whitehead, OpEdNews.com, 5/22/13.

"Why is the Federal Government Disarming Veterans?" by Joe Wolverton, The New American, 2/26/13.

"Veteran Declared 'Mentally Defective,' Has Guns Seized," by Paul Joseph Watson, Infowars.com, 9/24/12.

Since its enactment in 2007, repeated efforts have been made to rein back NICS and increasing federal abuses.  To no avail.

Instead, in 2013, the Obama regime pursued a rule to expand NICS access to health and other records.  Speaking of the rule, the Electronic Privace Information Center argued:

"...DOJ regulations define 'committed to a mental institution' as a 'formal commitment of a person to a mental institution by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority' INCLUDING 'commitment[s] for mental defectiveness or mental illness, as well as commitments for other reasons, such as for drug use.'  The phrase 'for other reasons' is overly broad and vague. Although the DOJ has illustrated that drug use is an example of 'commitments for other reasons,' the nebulous language would grant the DOJ sweeping authority to prohibit individuals from possessing firearms, a constitutionally protected right.  We recognize that HHS does not have authority to amend DOJ regulations. But, because HHS proposes to amend its Privacy Rule so that states can comply with the DOJ's rule, HHS should not amend its privacy regulations to facilitate states implementation of the DOJ's broad rule. Thus, until the DOJ clearly defines and enumerates the types of formal commitments that can bar gun ownership, HHS should not amend its regulations to release sensitive mental health information to the DOJ." [bold and bold caps added]

In January 2014, Michael Hammond, general counsel of the Gun Owners of America, wrote in The Washington Times:

"The Department of Health and Human Service's 'notice of proposed rule-making,' floated by the White House in a Friday media dump, would waive portions of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to allow psychiatrists to report their patients to the FBI's gun-ban blacklist (the NICS system) on the basis of confidential communications.

"The 1968 Gun Control Act bans guns for anyone who is 'adjudicated as a mental defective or… committed to a mental institution.'

"Unfortunately, under 2008 NICS Improvement Act, drafted by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, and its regulations, that 'adjudication' can be made by any 'other lawful authority.' This means a diagnosis by a single psychiatrist in connection with a government program.

"In the case of nearly 175,000 law-abiding veterans, the 'lawful authority' has been a Department of Veterans Affairs psychiatrist, who, generally, will take away a veteran's guns by unilaterally declaring him incompetent and appointing a guardian over his financial affairs.

"Certainly, the findings can be appealed, but most veterans don’t have the tens of thousands of dollars to hire lawyers and psychiatrists to do so." [bold added]

In December 2014, Gun Owners of America reported the following regarding the massive spending bill that was enacted:

"The bill increases funds, by $13 million, for the widely abused NICS system which Obama has spent the last two years trying to expand both through unsuccessful legislation and then through unlawful executive action.

"Among the people stripped of their Second Amendment rights by the bill's largesse will be over 175,000 law-abiding veterans.  The bill is, thus, a kick in the pants to those who served our country honorably and are counting on you to protect them." [bold added]

The VA is ideal to play a major role in disarming innocent veterans through these federal gun control advances.  Federally-funded VA psychiatrists are paid and programmed to solicit sensitive feedback from veterans.  They then classify them as suffering from "post traumatic stress," "depression," etc.  Such labels make veterans increasingly vulnerable to ongoing statutory efforts to label them as being "unfit" to possess firearms.

The dominant VA mindset was expressed in its publication, "Firearms & Dementia":

"The best way to reduce gun risks is to remove the gun from your home...

"The presence of firearms in households has been linked to increased risk of injury or death for everyone in or around the home...

"Firearms in the home can increase the possibility of completing suicide...

"Family members do not always take appropriate action to unload, secure, or remove firearms from the home.  These actions should be taken regardless of the severity of the dementia or whether your loved one is suffering from a behavioral problem or depression...

"Many people see guns as a means of self-protection rather than as a potential safety hazard. The belief in the right to 'bear arms' can also be very high." [bold added]

Are these the kind of government agents you want "collaborating" with Utah courts on your behalf?

Back to Topics


"And then I said, 'These veterans courts are ideal for America's warriors!'"
States Are Key to Disarming Veterans

Some argue that the VA's power to disarm veterans still has some limitations.  According to Gun Laws by State, a loophole still exists protecting many veterans from federal gun control aggression: state governments.

"A person who has been adjudicated as a mentally defective or committed to a mental institution is not prohibited if: (1) the person was adjudicated by or committed by a department or agency of the Federal Government, such as the United States Department of Veteran's Affairs ("VA") (as opposed to a State court, State board, or other lawful State authority); and (2) either: (a) the person's adjudication or commitment for mental incompetency was set aside or expunged by adjudicating agency; (b) the person has been fully released or discharged from all mandatory treatment, supervision, or monitoring by the agency; or (c) the person was found by the agency to no longer suffer from the mental health condition that served as the basis of the initial adjudication..." [bold added]

If this analysis is correct, what does it mean?  Under current federal code, the federal regime and its VA lapdog may, in some instances, still need to "collaborate" with the state agents and agencies to ensure that veterans are forcefully and permanently disarmed.

Utah state courts are already rabidly anti-gun, and need no additional incentive to pronounce lifetime bans on veteran firearms ownership.  They have amply proven their eagerness to collude and conspire with the federal government to neutralize the perceived threat of combat veterans bearing arms.

In addition to federal funding, the VA will likewise provide "experts" who could furnish these gun control courts with heretofore confidential communications with veteran defendants.  Still comfortable with such a "collaboration"?

Back to Topics


These playground bullies steal more than your lunch money.
Appropriate Action: Contact the Two Bullies Who Dominate Your Statutators

As the 2013 Utah Government Corruption Report amply demonstrates, two playground bullies abuse and dominate the house and senate and work together to destroy your rights: house speaker Greg Hughes and senate president Wayne Niederhauser. Contrary to what you learned in civics class, your house and senate statutators merely serve their gun control agenda.

How can two people possibly exercise such control? As one example, the house speaker and senate president alone appoint and remove EVERY member of EVERY committee. Hughes and Niederhauser are empowered to do this without any review or confirmation process.
Sources: "The general duties of the Speaker are to:... appoint the members of committees…" (House Rules 1-3-102. Duties of the speaker) and "The general duties of the president are to:… appoint the members of committees…" (SR1-3-102. Duties of the president)

Consider the vast implications of this incredible power. No bill may be voted on in the house or senate without going through a committee. As a result, bills live or die almost entirely upon the calculated orders of these two bullies.

Previous House Bully Becky Lockhart candidly admitted her power to the press:

"I empower [house] committee chairs..." [bold added]
Source: "Bill banning enforcement of federal gun laws 'stuck in limbo'," by Lisa Riley Roche, Deseret News, Feb. 22, 2013.

Lockhart's successor, Greg Hughes, now empowers the chairs of each house committee because he appoints and fires them at his will alone, as does Niederhauser for every senate committee.

Their powers are so extreme, no provision exists in the house or senate rules to fire these bullies before their two-year terms are over. They lord over each body, trade favors, and sell your rights; all while pretending that decisions are made by the will of the majority instead of their bullying.

The political buck stops with Hughes and Niederhauser for failing to advance positive gun owner bills, and for every gun control bill enacted. Until more statutators are motivated to oppose their power, your rights will continue to be undermined.

Because your house and senate statutators merely serve their will and agenda, contacting them is often just a courtesy call.  These two bullies hold the power over Utah's statutarium ("legislature"):

For House Bully Greg Hughes' contact information (and the rest of the house statutators), click here.  For Senate Bully Wayne Niederhauser's contact information (and the rest of the senate statutators), click here.

Back to Topics


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