The short version: This campaign is an effort to raise funds so The Stranger, a weekly newspaper in Seattle, can take our push for more government transparency to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Neil Fox, the president of the local chapter of the National Lawyers' Guild, is working with us pro bono, but there are expenses—just filing an appeal costs $450, not to mention lots of printing, mailing, and other fees. We at The Stranger are able to chip in, but we can't afford the whole process on our own. So we're asking you for help.
The background: For several months, The Stranger has been following a story about people who received subpoenas to appear before a grand jury (sometimes those subpoenas were delivered early in the morning with kicked-down doors and flash grenades from police in SWAT gear). Those people were ostensibly summoned to answer questions about political vandalism in Seattle on May Day—but many of them weren’t in Seattle on May Day and say they were mostly questioned about other people's political opinions and social affiliations.
When they refused to answer such questions, they were thrown in prison for an indeterminate amount of time, without having been charged with (much less convicted of) a crime. Some of those people wound up spending months in solitary confinement. Their attorneys repeatedly asked why their clients were in solitary, but still have not received satisfactory answers from prison officials.
In the process of covering the story, The Stranger has been tangling with federal prosecutors over how much secrecy the feds should be allowed in court proceedings. From a paragraph in a recent news story:
"Throughout this process, The Stranger has been working with attorney Neil Fox, president of the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, petitioning to unseal some of the documents in this case that prosecutors have reflexively shielded. Some of those motions, for example, aren't sensitive to the investigation, but merely cite precedent and case law. We have been successful in getting some made public (such as a copy of the government's search-warrant affidavit, which [attorneys] Gordon and Kaplan say was helpful in getting their clients released), but not others (such as the full civil contempt proceedings). If we can raise the funds, Fox and The Stranger will push our case for greater government transparency to the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. We plan to file soon."
After that story appeared, several readers approached us, saying they'd like to donate. If you're one of those people, or would like to help us in our push for greater government transparency, you've come to the right place.
We hope you'll join us in letting prosecutors know that we are interested in seeing how they do business in federal court.