Pay the fine or go to jail! NonViolent Action for Family Rights

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From: John Murtari (
Date: Sat Oct 11 2008 - 18:45:33 EDT

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Good People & People of Faith,

The last seven days have been tiring and a bit nerve racking.  I went
to Court in the nearby town of Macedon last Tuesday, 7 Oct, for a
traffic ticket on 'aggravated unlicensed operation'.  A trial date was
set for Dec 8th (I asked for a jury -- if anyone knows a lawyer who
would be willing to do it 'pro bono', let me know!).

As I walked out of Court two State Troopers arrested me for a
'warrant' issued from my home town of Lyons, NY.  That was in regards
to the unpaid fine for the same offense in a trial three years ago (it
was associated with the Letter to the Judge message of a few weeks

I thought I was going to jail that night, but luckily the Judge
adjourned it until this Wednesday (15 Oct) -- pay the fine or 15 days
in jail!  This morning I wrote him and some other officials a letter
which follows (and explains my response and the NonViolent Action I
have planned to non-cooperate if jailed).  I could really use some
help from members of the group in that.....again, I will just stay
passive and not voluntarily eat or drink.  The names, addresses,
phones and faxes of the various officials are below -- please give
them courteous contact and ask for dismissal of pending actions.

This afternoon I drove to a family function in another nearby town,
and guess what -- they had one of those traffic stops on the road
where they check your inspection sticker and registration.  Guess who
was manning the spot -- one of those State Troopers!  He pulled me
over and was pretty decent about the whole thing.  Still wrote me a
ticket (that will be number three!).

Because many people think the entire State of New York is an asphalt
jungle -- you should know my hometown of Lyons is upstate in a rural
area.  Only 5,000 people live here and it's 7 or 8 miles between towns
of pretty much country road.  No real bus service -- you have to drive
to get anything done.  My family has lived in Lyons for almost 100
years now -- everybody knows my son and I.  As you read the letter
below, I hope that info will help.

I'd also welcome anyone who wants to travel to Lyons for that Court
appearance at 8:30 AM this Wednesday.  It would mean a lot to me to
see fellow parents there (and besides, you'll get to see some
beautiful fall foliage and this is 'apple country' too!).

I'd say more, but the letter below, and the links it contains will
give a pretty complete story of why and why not.  I hope it asks
some questions we all need to answer; especially, what kind of actions
will it take to make reform a reality?

I've gotten a lot of FEEDBACK and I always ask everyone that writes --
'What are you willing to sacrifice right now to help make reform a
reality and help other parents?' -- I don't get many replies.....
NonViolent Action - http://www.AKidsRight.Org/civil.htm

Believe me, I understand why, I take a look in the mirror and see
myself also.  I was just trying to focus on work for a few months to
dig myself out of a financial whole I was in and actually pay them
some of the money they want....

How to get through it with a smile and a sense of humor?  For me the
answer is Faith in a Loving God.  After the letter I include the
text of Psalm 86 - a heartfelt prayer from someone poor & oppressed.
Many of us can relate to that! 

Best regards!
John Murtari (jmurtari@AKidsRight.Org)

         					34 Franklin St.
						Lyons, NY 14489
						October 10, 2008
Judge Nicholas Forgione
Village Justice
79 William St.
Lyons, NY 14489

Dear Judge Forgione and Assistant DA Wunder:

This is a motion for dismissal in the 'Interest of Justice' or
adjournment of any pending action regarding an unpaid fine.  I hope
this can be resolved Wednesday (at 08:30 AM) in Lyons Village Court.
I've tried to take care of it in an honest & forthright fashion and
that's why I wrote you September 17th.  I'm concerned by your

This is a small town.  We know each other and both of you have known
my family for years.  Why would two State Troopers from Lyons follow
me all the way to Macedon (where I had to appear in Court Tuesday
night). Wait for me to finish and then hand-cuff me for an arrest
warrant you wrote back on Sept. 26.  I had to leave my car there and
they took me back to Lyons to see you in Court it didn't make any
sense! (

I live right in town.  You could have just called me to Court.  I
asked the troopers why and they said it was 'easier' for them?  They
had my letter from Sep 17th, followed me knowing I was driving with a
suspended license but that was okay?  They said I would be going to
jail till a $300 fine was paid.  It scared me and caused me a lot of
worry.  I'm lucky they didn't barge into my house at night!

At arraignment you told me, "John, you can't beat the system.  You're
just one man.  One man against 300 million... You can't win." I was
glad you decided to adjourn it until the 15th when the ADA could be
there and respond to my request for dismissal.  You said one thing I
didn't understand, "John, I can't dismiss this unless the DA is here
and agrees." I thought the Judge decided justice?

There is one thing I do understand this thing is getting crazy and out
of control.  Any thoughts of 'justice' seem long gone.  I'm not in
competition with either of you gentleman and I'm certainly not trying
to 'beat' you or the system.  What I want is to be left alone so I can
take care of my community and my family (especially my son).

The conviction three years ago for unlicensed operation already drove
my insurance up.  I'm paying almost $400 more every 6 months.  That
would have been money to help my son what's the goal?  It's a bad law
that connects child support and driving it's VERY bad when applied by
computer accounting and no human judgment.  To be treated this way in
my own home town has shocked me and I hope other people.

Please understand I will not ever voluntarily pay that fine I would be
guilty of deceit and lack of Faith if I did so.  I don't expect a
perfect system.  If this had been a ticket about rolling through a
stop sign (when I was sure I stopped) if I lost in Court I would just
pay the fine.  Mistakes happen and it's not worth the hassle.  This
was caused by New York saying," You're behind in child support!
You're a bad parent.  We're going to make it easy to have you arrested
and jailed by suspending your license." But I'm not a bad parent and
I've always acted for the best of my son Domenic.  He's 15 and we love
each other very much.  I'm not behind in providing the love & support
he deserves and which is my great joy to give.  We are the lucky ones
in a Family Law system that has destroyed so many parent-child

What a disgrace I'd be if fear caused me to fail in my Faith and just
go along.  The 'bad law' would just keep going on.  Judge, I didn't
get an answer when I asked, "If this was Alabama in the 40's and I was
a black man who sat in the front of a bus would you expect me to pay
the fine?" Let's be honest now.  The DA would have prosecuted me and
you would have found me guilty and jailed me.

And you know what?  There's nothing evil in that.  A lot of
good-church-going people felt laws that kept the races apart were

What kept it going?  Blacks quietly moving to the back of the bus
(because it was the law).  Giving up their own human dignity because
they were afraid (with good reason to be!).  It stopped when they
peacefully asserted their dignity and were willing to sacrifice for
what they believed in without hurting others.  Finally, those
good-church-going people's eyes were opened toward their neighbors the
Black sisters & brothers they didn't know they had and saw them with

I now understand your strong desire to jail me on this and force me to
comply.  I have no ill-will toward any of you.  I know you are doing
what you think is right as am I.

If you jail me against my will, I'll do very-hard time.  They can
carry me from Village court to the jail and anywhere else they want
me.  I will not be rude or resist, but just remain passive. I will not
eat or drink voluntarily. I expect them to use medical means like a
nasal-gastric tube to keep me hydrated and fed. This is NOT a hunger
strike. I do not want to hurt myself.  But my only fair response to
such an unjust sentence is to maximize my sacrifice and the amount of
effort you must use to hold me captive as a prisoner. I'm not
unfamiliar with jail and how they may react it will be painful.

I'm also sure you know I'll follow through with this as I did in
Onondaga County for four months. (http://www.AKidsRight.Org/support_jm.htm) 
It was an awful experience and I thank God I'm still alive and in good
health.  The really sad part of this whole mess is we're going to do
it all over again in Macedon in a few months.  I have a trial there
scheduled for December 8th..

					Respectfully yours,

					John Murtari 
					315-430-2702 (cell)

CC: DA Richard Healey , Hall of Justice, Suite 202, Lyons, NY  14489
    (Phone: 315-946-5905 / Fax: 315-946-5911)

CC: Mr. Richard Wunder, Ass. District Attorney, 54 Broad St.  Lyons, NY 14489
    (Phone: 315-946-5905 / Fax: 315-946-5911)

CC: Judge  Ronald Reinstein, 32 Main Street, Macedon, NY 14502
CC: Assemblyman Robert Oaks, 10 Leach Road, Lyons, NY 14489
    (Phone: 315-946-5166 / Fax: 315-946-5229)

Attach: Catholic Courier Article.


Psalm 86 (Prayer of the afflicted)
-- The Psalms: A New Translation, The Grail, England, 1963

Turn you ear, O Lord, and give answer
for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am faithful:
save the servant who trusts in you.

Your are my God, have mercy on me, Lord,
for I cry to you all the day long.
Give joy to your servant, O Lord,
for to you I lift up my soul.

O Lord, you are good and forgiving,
full of love to all who call.
Give heed, O Lord, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my voice.

In the day of distress I will call
and surely you will reply.
Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord;
nor work to compare with yours.

All the nations shall come to adore you
and glorify your name, O Lord:
for you are great and do marvellous deeds,
you who alone are God.

Show me, Lord, your way
so that I may walk in your truth.
Guide my heart to fear your name.

I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart
and glorify your name forever;
for your love to me has been great;
you have saved me from the depths of the grave.

The proud have risen against me;
ruthless men seek my life:
to you they pay no heed.

But you, God of mercy and compassion,
slow to anger, O Lord,
abounding in love and truth,
turn and take pity on me.

O give your strength to your servant
and save your handmaid's son.
Show me a sign of your favor
that my foes may see to their shame
that you console me and give me your help.

A Kid's Right to Both Parents!
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