“But speaking of rules, you’ve been arrested dozens of times in your life. Specific incidents aside, what’s common to these run-ins? Where do you stand vis-à-vis the law?”
“Goddammit. Yeah, I have. First, there’s a huge difference between being arrested and being guilty. Second, see, the law changes and I don’t. How I stand vis-à-vis the law at any given moment depends on the law. The law can change from state to state, from nation to nation, from city to city. I guess I have to go by a higher law. How’s that? Yeah, I consider myself a road man for the lords of karma.” From interview of Hunter S. Thompson
I was arrested on a Saturday afternoon.
We had returned to Delian from Juneau on Friday, by the ferry. We were all still very much upset by the whole dental incident. It had been a most stressful trip to Juneau. Saturday morning, I fixed breakfast as usual, for myself and Olek, while Narciss slept in. Then I met up with Gumboot at the harbor. We took my boat out to set out some subsistence lines in the bay for catching halibut. It was about 3:00 pm when I returned home, and Narciss was still on a rip about her tooth extractions. I was in a bad mood about it, and she started in on me again. I don’t remember all the words exchanged, but she kept saying things in broken English about needing protection, words introduced to her vocabulary, of course. Apparently she had been on the phone with Oxanna and perhaps others in the Juneau network, who had riled her up.
I asked her “who do you need protection from?”
The mixed emotions I felt about that are difficult to describe, a combination of hurt, anger, indignation, disgust, helplessness, etc. I wanted be somewhere else, or to tell her and all the women advocates who had contributed to this breakdown to shut the fuck up and get out of my life. Something needed to happen to change this scenario. Olek was staying really quite, and trying to avoid the whole thing.
I figured she had been scheming all along to make claims to support the charge of domestic violence, and it was just a matter of time. I knew of it happening to others. Then there was Oxanna. To me this appeared to be what Narciss was working up the courage to do right then. I figured that while she was preoccupied with the thought of her preposterous accusations, that I had an extra tooth pulled against her wishes, was a good time to let her play her cards. I can’t remember whether I mentioned the police first, or she mentioned the word.
I said, “you want to speak to the police? No problem, I’ll call them for you.”
So, I called the police chief, Catchcya Ubetcya, and asked him to come over and speak with Narciss and myself. This was simply a call for help in my mind. I didn’t know who else to call. Of course I had the Chief’s personal number on my cell phone because we worked together, and sometimes deer hunted together, or rode around town evenings looking for bears.
At the time I had no idea that Alaska is a Mandatory Arrest State, which still requires the prerequisite of probable cause. Also, the mandatory arrest clause in Alaska law applies to events of domestic violence within twelve hours prior to the time of arrest. The events in Narciss’ accusations occurred more than twelve hours prior, except the word “fear”. In theory the Mandatory Arrest Statute is about imminent threat of harm or reckless endangerment. If twelve hours has passed, then it is presumed harm or endangerment is not imminent and this statute becomes moot, but that doesn’t mean an arrest isn’t about to happen. The way law enforcement, and the advocacy training is getting around this is through the misapplication of the word “fear” in the statute. Since “fear” has no timeline it could be imminent and certainly within the last twelve hours.
I waited there for Chief Ubetcya, expecting him to show up in civilian clothes, but instead the Chief was in uniform, and it was his day off. At first the Chief was mild mannered. We were all sitting in the living room, with little apparent angst. He asked a few questions, and asked Narciss what is the problem. She started with the tooth extractions story, speaking in her little girl act of course. At first, briefly, the Chief tried to make reconciliations, but rather suddenly all that shifted when the Chief popped the question “are you afraid?” Of course Narciss said “yes”. And I was immediately arrested, and taken out in handcuffs to the police car parked in front of the house, beside the sidewalk, so everyone could see what was going on. The Chief told me to stay put, in the front passenger seat, door unlocked, and went back inside the house.
Very shortly thereafter Taniya and her husband came over in a tizzy and entered the house. Narciss continues her sob story, her little girl act, about all the accusations she had rehearsed, including the tooth extractions. Had she rehearsed the tooth extractions story with her coaches, surely they would have talked her out of it. So, I was hauled off to jail, wore the striped pajamas for the evening, and slept on the hard bed for fifteen hours. When I got there I was emotionally numb anyway, and sleep was the only way to not think.
Sunday morning I was released, but didn’t go home. Instead, I stayed in a friend’s mobile home. The district attorney “dismissed without prejudice” the charges three days after my arrest, which in legal jargon means it ain’t over yet. At least it meant prosecution before the District Court for assault in the fourth degree, a class A misdemeanor, was not pending.
Monday morning the Delian magistrate, Maraud DenRoastu, issued a 20 day protective order and set a date for the long term protective order hearing. Despite the fact that the charges had been dropped by the District Court, the magistrate held a hearing for long term protection. It was an act which was beyond her statutory authority, under this scenario. The hearing was for the purpose of considering evidence to determine if I had committed a crime of domestic violence, in effect a trial for a crime, in a civil hearing. Go figure. If a crime was found by her to exist, she would have issued a civil long term protective order for one year, which could have been extended for another year. If the magistrate had found that I was guilty, I would have been declared a criminal by the State of Alaska and had a criminal record for life. Of course significant separate maintenance support money for Narciss was part of the deal. The excruciating and expensive hearing resulted in dismissal for lack of sufficient evidence to support the accusations.
A man can be arrested in his own home, a warrantless arrest, charged with a crime of fourth degree assault, a class A misdemeanor, faced with the possibility of conviction, forced eviction from his home, forced separation from his wife and marriage and children, forced to pay for two households, separate maintenance for his wife, child support, and fees for his and her attorney, potential loss of employment and good standing in the community, face the wrath of women’s advocacy groups, and be at a distinct disadvantage in a probable divorce settlement … all based on a three letter word “yes” in answer to the question by the officer to the wife, “Are you afraid?”
I can’t think of any other scenario in this country where a warrantless arrest can occur, for an alleged crime not witnessed by the officer personally, where there is no evidence of a crime, past or present, actual or threat of physical harm or imminent danger to the alleged victim, probable cause for arrest established simply based on the word “fear” in the law and the accuser saying she is afraid?
The obvious question is why is this scenario unique in its affront to the rule of law and fundamental constitutional rights?
Gloria Steinem is surely proud of her achievments.
These inciting incidents foreshadow the rest of the story.