From Paine to Pappert: Citizen Arrested for Complaining Too Often to City Officials

200px-Thomas_PaineIn a bizarre case, Bridgeville Borough resident has been convicted for repeatedly writing and calling his elected officials to complain about their lack of effort to relieve a local nuisance. If you count copies sent to some officers, Marshall Pappert sent around 350 and was arrested for criminal harassment. It is a good thing that Bridgeville prosecutors and courts did not exist when Thomas Paine was doing his incessant complaining about his government.

Pappert was complaining about a Bridgeville concrete plant owned by Silhol Builders Supply. His letters and voice mails were neither threatening nor rude. They would say things like “I’m asking you as a Bridgeville resident of 56 years to resign and get off of your position. Do the right thing.”

He is now appealing. I cannot understand how any judge would uphold an arrest in such a case, let alone a conviction. A citizen has a constitutional right to petition or complain to his government. Pappert was actually representing a large group of citizens who appointed him as their representative with the officials, here. July 16, 2008 hearing, Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Robert Gallo convicted him and ignored overwhelming constitutional problems of free speech, void for vagueness, and other problems. Gallo would have hated Thomas Paine, who was a true pain with his incessant pamphlets and complaints. Not only did Gallo rule that Pappert should have known that Bridgeville Borough Manager Lori Collins did not have authority to act on his complaints but barred him from contacting her for 90 days on any subject.

McGraw ‘s decision in the case is an outrage as is the decision of the prosecutors to take the case.

Nevertheless, Assistant District Attorney Peggy Ivory insists that Pappert “clearly crossed the line to a course of conduct designed to harass” the borough manager.

In the meantime, Bridgeville police chief Ed Bogats — who arrested Pappert — submitted his resignation last month.

The ACLU has taken up Pappert’s case, here.

For the full story, click here.

7 thoughts on “From Paine to Pappert: Citizen Arrested for Complaining Too Often to City Officials”

  1. AY:

    More completely, 1983 actions apply to state employees acting under color of law, WHO ARE NOT OTHERWISE PRIVILEGED to do what they did.
    There are a whole slew of immunities that 1983 will not overcome, and judicial immunity is the most sweeping one of all.

    The judge here is utterly protected from 1983, his decision was issued in the course of administering judicial action.
    He is a statist butthead, and should be sanctioned for such an obvious fundamental legal violation, but the judges cover their own cabal’s ass.

  2. Dredd,

    The 1983 action extends to anyone acting under the color of law. I would like to see the Judge prosecuted for this criminal conviction, he should be charger with criminal conspiracy. He is the one that should known better.

  3. Dollars to dognuts … gonna be thrown out … sounds like the dude may have a Section 1983 case as well …

  4. Joe G.,

    If the chief resigned for medical reasons how is that good? He should have refused the arrest and lost his job and then sued under a 1983 action. This type of stuff just begets more injustice.

    I know of a prosecutor that was run out of office for not prosecuting a well known doctor. The reasons was the Doctor pulled the plug on his severely brain dead born baby that could not make it on his own.

    It was ordered from the States Attorney to Prosecute. He did and was subsequently beaten for his reelection bid. The louse that beat him used the loss of the case against him. The longer the new prosecutor was in office, the less satisfied the public became.

    So if he had taken a stand and done what was right rather than cower and the medically retire I would have more respect for him.

  5. Believe it or not, this type of activity is going on all over the country. What they end up arresting you for Resisting, Obstructing and Opposing a lawful command of a Police Officer.

    If they ask you to stop writing them, the police respond and ask you to stop. If you write them again, then they arrest you for Opposing a Lawful Command. Which is BS by the way.

Comments are closed.