I have thought, for some time now, that I knew just how bad things were getting in the United States, in terms of us becoming a police state.

Today, I was shown just how wrong I am. 

In fact, I didn’t know the half of how bad things have really gotten.

I’ve tried to argue in the past that “no one is safe” from the police state in which we live. I always thought I was speaking in terms of what will happen, if ordinary people who don’t have day-to-day contact with our “justice” system continue to turn a blind eye to the things which we do know.

Now, though, it appears that day is already here. Say or do something the police don’t like, and you will find yourself in hot water. It doesn’t matter who you are. Don’t believe me? Ask Fresno Bee Reporter Pablo Lopez. There’s a story going around the courthouses right now that says he pissed off one of the co-owners of Fresno — police chief Jerry Dyer — and that Dyer personally called the Fresno Bee to try and get him fired. Exactly what happened, I don’t know — all I know so far is that at least a dozen people have told me what I just told you. Supposedly, it has to do with a criminal case involving Lopez’s son, in which Jerry Dyer has been subpoenaed — at least partly because he allegedly inserted himself into the case by trying to get Lopez fired. Knowing what I know, this story does not surprise me.

But, if you don’t want to ask Pablo Lopez, you can ask me.

This morning, when I arrived at the Juvenile Justice Court for a case, I found four or five deputies at the front. A deputy district attorney was walking ahead of me. She went through the metal detector without stopping, and (I assume, based on the direction she was heading) on to her office. I put my bag on the x-ray machine belt, as always, and pulled out my identification to show, as always. But I was stopped.

“You have to empty your pockets.”

“What?,” I asked.

“You have to empty your pockets.”


The officer said something about a new security issue or something along those lines. He stated that they were making all court personnel and attorneys empty their pockets now.

“A court person went through just ahead of me,” I said, motioning in the direction the prosecutor had gone. “You didn’t check her.”

And then one of them told me it was because of my blog post yesterday. He even specifically referenced the sentence that they found so offensive. “So now you’re a security risk,” I was told.

Because of something I wrote. Something which — I will admit — was offensive. Something which, in retrospect, I even wish I had not said (but not because of what happened today; I still haven’t stopped being intermittently amused and deeply concerned by the illegality of what happened today). After all — I probably shouldn’t say this — but I actually like some law enforcement officers.

And, in fact, after thinking about why the officers were so offended, I actually went back and changed yesterday’s post. (No, if you didn’t see it yesterday, I’m not going to tell you what I said. I’m adding enough fuel to the fire just by writing about what happened today.) I decided they were right, and that I was more offensive than I intended to be.

Because I won’t lie: I did intend to be offensive. What I had experienced — which resulted in yesterday’s post — was offensive. What happens far too often in our courtrooms is offensive. I was very offended, and made offensive statements about what offended me.

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Department, however, has proven that I was on the right track. In addition to the above, I went through two more complete searches — basically, every time I left the court, when I returned, I was searched again. They opened my bag, and then opened everything inside my bag, on the pretense that they were looking for “something metal” that showed up in the x-ray machine. What they did today proved that they can be a lawless force which, when it does not get its way, is to be both feared and resisted. It reminds me of something that’s been said at more than one criminal defense conference after this quote from a California case is read:

Defendant’s analogy to the Los Angeles Police Department is thus inapposite. Section 186.22, subdivision (f) defines “criminal street gang” as an ongoing organization having “as one of its primary activities” the commission of one of the enumerated offenses. Though members of the Los Angeles Police Department may commit an enumerated offense while on duty, the commission of crime is not a primary activity of the department. People v. Gamez, 235 Cal. App. 3d 957, 970-971, 286 Cal. Rptr. 894 (1991).

And the question is always asked: why? After all, if you did apply the exact same criteria to almost any police department, they would qualify as a criminal street gang. But you can’t get any court to allow you to explain to a jury why what I just said is true, because the answer to “why” is “because the courts say so.” It has nothing to do with how the criteria are applied — because, again, if they were applied in an identical way to the police, then the LAPD, and most other police forces, would be classified as a criminal street gang.

At any rate, the overreaction of the department today shows just how dangerous they can be. And, in fact, I suspect that’s just the start. It will not surprise me if something happens to me for what I’ve written. At least a few attorneys — including me — think that there was a plan in place this morning to set up a situation where I could be given a beatdown, which almost certainly would have been followed by criminal charges against me for “resisting arrest,” or “assaulting an officer,” or something similar to that. Because that happens to more people than you could possibly imagine, more often than you would believe. And, as I said, there is reason to believe they were trying to set it up — reason enough that another attorney decided to stick around “just in case.” (Which is probably why it didn’t happen.)

And it was stupid.

Because, again, I won’t lie: as despicable as I find the behavior of a lot of police officers, I will fight them in two places only: the courts, and the courtroom of public opinion. You see, I’m not quite as stupid as many law enforcement officers. I understand that I can’t get away with violating the law, and I won’t do so. I worked too hard to get my law license. I’m not about to give it up by breaking the law. If an officer gives me an order — even an illegal order — I’m going to do what he tells me to do.

If it’s an illegal order, and it matters, I’m going to go after the officer in court.

And any officer who has had any contact with me in the courtroom knows that. I have always been — and always will be — respectful of everyone in the courtroom, even when I disagree with them. Even if I think they’re ignoring the law themselves. I’m going to keep trying and hoping that I can work within the system to fix it. But, on top of that, when I see a bailiff is abusing his position to try to upset me, it makes it that much easier to just sit there without reacting. Why should I give them the pleasure of letting it upset me?

The bottom line is this: I’m sorry that I upset the department so much that they had to go and prove I was right. I mean, seriously, going through my complete bag every time I come into court? Opening it up and going through everything inside of it, even my pen boxes? Pulling out everything on the pretense that you say you saw something on the x-ray machine in the same bag I’ve brought to court for years now?

Today, as I said, I went through three complete searches. I suspect for a long time to come, I’m going to go through more. Until there are enough for me to go to court over it. Because there is no probable cause to search me. I have never done anything illegal, nor have I threatened to do anything illegal, nor would I do anything illegal. I’m carrying the same things in my bag today that I’ve carried every day for as long as I’ve been an attorney. My bag has been through their x-ray machine probably thousands of times over the years, and until today, I never had a problem.


Because piss off a cop — even if it’s just by writing something they don’t like — and they will show you just how far from being public servants they have gone. They are our overlords.

And you damn well better never forget it.


Don’t Forget Who’s In Charge Here!

About Rick

Rick Horowitz is a criminal defense attorney with an extreme dislike of the criminal "justice" system which routinely ignores the Constitution, the Law, and the lives it ruins.

In addition to this blog, Rick also owns Fresno Criminal Defense.


  1. Eric L. Mayer says:

    Huge kudos to you for keeping your cool and then following-up with free speech.

    Extra props go to your buddy who stayed in the area “just in case.” You did buy him a drink, right?

  2. Rick – since you’re in Fresno I would suggest you do the following: go to the Elections Office and get a copy of the “Declaration of Candidacy” ofl the DA and notice the “Oath of Office” on the back side is only the first paragraph of the actual oath (see Calif Constitution article XX sec 3) but also notice that the front side says it complies with Elections Code sec 200 which specifies the oath must be “in full”. Thus the DA (and every other elected officer) is merely a DEFACTO OFFICER, not dejure, thus you are NOT OBLIGATED to follow any directions or commands uttered by them. I have been making a big deal about this issue, but they don’t know how to respond. I would appreciate your input on this.

    • Greg, thank you for your comment, but I am a criminal defense attorney and am unable to provide any input on that issue.

  3. FYI, I am not going to allow comments about the Dorner case. Contrary to what some may think, I do not condone what Dorner did. In the sense that I get what was done to him, I have SOME sympathy for him. Not support: sympathy.

    But I do not condone individuals shooting cops, unless those cops are in the act of attacking unarmed citizens — such as when they fired on the crowd of women and children in Anaheim, or if we were having a repeat today of what happened at places like Kent State in 1970, or the South during the ’60s. I have even said that if the cops are beating someone, for example, who is submitting to them, that I believe a group of citizens standing around should stop and detain those officers. I am not willing to say that individuals should kill cops.

    When I talk about “revolution,” I am not talking about a single individual going out and shooting police officers. When I talk about fighting the police, I am not talking about KILLING them, although I know some of my comments have been interpreted that way due to some emotive writing on my part. When I talk to gang members about fighting the cops, for example, I tell them that they should politically organize for that purpose. California law allows the suppression of racial minorities in violation of their constitutional rights under the guise of suppressing gangs because the California courts have said they are not political organizations. Organizing for that is how I tell gang members I speak with to fight. (And, in at least one instance I have heard of, they did just that, although many people didn’t like the candidate they supported.)

    If you want to kill individual cops, don’t look to me for support. If you want to form a group of several hundred thousand people to resist the government, that’s a different story.

    Truth be told, I am disturbed that I have apparently done such a shitty job of communicating what I’m saying that people are interpreting it to mean I would support killing individual cops.

    Cops should be accorded due process just as any other person. I know good cops. And if a cop were accused of a crime, and I had the opportunity, I would defend him or her as vigorously as I defend any other client.

    So don’t even try the f’ing Dorner posts anymore.

    P.S. It should be noted that in one other post, I mentioned Dorner, and condemned the police. I did not condemn the police because of Dorner, however. I condemned the police because, in their attempt to capture Dorner, they ignored the Constitution, and injured other citizens. I do not support anyone doing what Dorner did.

  4. Wouldn’t 18USC242 cover this sort of abuse. If you alone were singled out for extra precautions based on a 1st amendment right….

    See what happens when you try to press charges. Make sure you videotape the encounter, too.

  5. ….I am about to piss off a JUDGE….by filing detailed complaints alleging her judicial misconduct – to the Commission on Judicial Performance and the Calif Judicial Council….
    She simply ignored several state and federal laws in her
    courtroom, and has done so for a few decades…. do you want to hear more?

    I am a model citizen. A senior now, 66, a grad of UC, published, and, with high-standing friends, colleagues and references….I have contributed big bucks in taxes and fees to the state as a white – collar worker for 4+ decades. I have never been convicted of anything, or even come close to being arrested or annoying an officer! Its a Family Law situation: my ex, who has NO education, NO skills, has commuted at least 2 capital crimes in Islamic countries – but escaped – and has demonstrably lied several times to the court, is clearly a bad parent model, and is marrying a convicted felon with 18 arrests – nearly all guilty – has been given custody of my youngest daughter, by the judge in question. (Jean Valjean’s judge, unfortunately) I am working through the system, although all the lawyers who have been in her courtroom say to me “….don’t do it…wait until the child is 18 – about 2 years…. bite the bullet, and don’t piss off this judge…”…there is obviously more to my situation… do you practice Family Law, please?

  6. Rick,
    I completely agree with you about Dorner…..while he may have had some legitimate complaints in his manifesto, that did not give him a right or a license to start killing people, police or otherwise. A murderer is a murderer is a murderer, doesn’t matter if they are a citizen, a cop or an ex-cop!! However, it was clear when those cops shot up the truck that had two women in it delivering newspapers, that they intended to take him out ….it was clear that all cops were on an assination mission in their hunt for him. He had crossed the line when he attacked the family of cops, then cops themselves. He signed his own death warrant!

    It’s just sad that they didn’t stop him sooner…..it’s just sad that LAPD shields and covers up the use of excessive and brutal and lethal force, and other criminal and unlawful acts by their officers…but then they are not alone..this is done by all law enforcement agencies…..guess they don’t want the bad publicity, or do they just think they are indeed above the law?

    Since my son was shot in the back by a police officer with an MP5 submachine gun I have become an Activist…something I never thought I would be at the age of 70. Please visit http://www.michaelnida.com
    Cops should not be allowed to be the Judge, Jury and Executioner….they need to be made to understand this and they need to be very careful when they decide to use lethal force, and that if they act like a criminal, rogue cop that they will be prosecuted for murdeer.

    Please keep up your fight for justice….police officers, judges, etc., who commit illegal acts and then hide behind their position and given immunity from prosecution, are criminals and should be treated as such by our justice system. People in position of authority should be subjected to the same laws and prosecution and punishment, if they break the law, as the average citizen…being in the justice system or in law enforcement should not provide immunity from prosecution when a criminal act has been committed!

  7. Iv Liberty says:

    Thank you so much for standing up for the people and what is right Mr. Horowitz. I wish there were more attorneys like you.

    In the span of 2 years, I have been detained, contacted, and arrested over 18 times. Every time I am arrested (4 times), it is for PC 148 because I ask for a reason for the detention and I assert my constitutional rights–3 of the 4 cases were dismissed and the last charge I represented myself pro se for several reasons.

    For the record, I am NEVER involved in any criminal activities. When I started filing complaints and 42:1983 claims, I was further retaliated against.

    The Eastern District denied my TRO several times because in their opinion, I have a remedy–the option to sue even though I have proven the likelihood that my 4th Amendment rights will be violated again. So the court has failed to protect me and have sentenced me to a life of litigation and retaliation. I have lost everything because I refuse to be treated like a sub-class citizen. I have been fighting this battle all alone. I have filed complaints to DOJ, the Attorney General, FBI, the City Council, Congressmen, Assemblymen, Internal Affairs, etc….all to no avail. There is no one to protect the people. So I guess I am just supposed to accept a diminished life in a police state.

    I am currently trying to get PC 148 removed from the books like PC 647. I am also trying to make it illegal for Internal Affairs to refuse to investigate a police officer for misconduct while charges are pending. That seems to be seriously unethical and to violate equal protection laws.

    Below is an example of what I have experienced several times in Sacramento. I was preparing to go to the gym and was detained at gun point for no legal reason. I was handcuffed and placed in the back of the patrol car for about 30 minutes while the police searched for a reason to arrest me. No one ever investigated this complaint…this is my life in a police state.

  8. I wish I could say I’m surprised by the actions of Fresno’s finest fascists but having lived in Fresno this latest outrage seems to be par for the course. It’s rare (and refreshing) when someone in Fresno’s defense bar doesn’t adopt an overtly obsequious posture towards court deputies. I didn’t offer the perfunctory fawning small talk to the deputies and was invariably made to wait (endlessly) for my clients to be brought to court. On the other hand, attorneys who played the game and treated deputies like the lords in a petty fiefdom that they were not were rewarded with timely and friendly service. I couldn’t play that game because I knew better; when deputies weren’t manning their stations at the metal detectors (all 4-5 of them) or laboring away surfing the net while pretending to work as a court bailiff, they were beating or otherwise mistreating my clients. Unfortunately Fresno deputies are allowed to operate as they do with the witting assistance of Fresno judges. A story might be illustrative: a Fresno deputy ordered one of my out of custody client’s awaiting an arraignment on his first court appearance to wait outside before his case was called. When I spoke to my client he said the deputy had ordered him to leave court because he was wearing a “gang colored” shirt, though the shirt appeared to be a dark hued pink. The client was charged with a non gang related theft and had no gang history. I confronted the deputy about this and the deputy wouldn’t back down. I called the case and put on the record that my client was present but outside the courtroom because he was ordered removed for wearing a pink shirt. I attempted to point out the absurdity of the situation of forcing my client to leave the courtroom for wearing a pink shirt and objected on 1st, 6th, and 14th amendment grounds. The judge said the issue was moot now that my client had been brought into court (after being made to wait outside) and that in any event the deputies controlled the security of the courtroom. Word spread among deputies after that incident and my time to wait for clients increased even more. I would say that not every country is like Fresno, I’ve found that deputies in the bay area are far more down to earth and even deferential to attorneys. Keep fighting the good fight Rick.

  9. it is simple enough to prove harassment if you can recruit an accomplice to help. Be sure to carry a nondescript, common bag that others routinely carry. Go into the courthouse as before with your possessions. If you are searched again as you have been, then leave the courthouse and transfer the bag to your accomplice with no changes. Give the searchers some time to go back to their usual routine, and then have your accomplice pass through security and see what happens.

    Another fun test would be to pass a completely empty bag through xray to see what they do. Of course, we’d all love to hear of the outcome of these tests…

  10. Apologies for my off-topic post on a Family Law judge. I did not see that that area was not one of your practice areas. That said, I suspect that you have encountered Jean Valjean’s judge, in different guises, in your law practice.

    • Not a problem.

      But I figured I’d use that opportunity to let everyone see that I had that page up, so anyone curious about what I do can find it.

      You might also like my “Testimonials” page.

      And I have encountered all kinds of surprises in judges while practicing in various counties around California.

  11. Morgan Wilcox says:

    You exercised your right to free speech but paid a penalty for it. Unfortunately many times what we say is not used against us, but is abused against us almost to the extent of harassment, making me wonder how much freedom of speech do we really have.


  1. […] California criminal-defense attorney Rick Horowitz won, and he hadn’t even entered the […]

  2. […] Yesterday, he almost became known for being a victim of those very abuses of power. Rick, you see, wrote a typical Rick post in which he excoriated the “law enforcement” of the Fresno Sheriff’s Department for what he saw as behind-the-scenes puppeteering of a judge that resulted in his client getting screwed. So he wrote something that was offensive; over the line by his own admission, which he has since deleted. We’ve all said stupid things; we’ve all done stupid things, but we (at least the lawyers among us) bask in the warm comfort of the fact that we are lawyers after all, and criminal defense lawyers at that. The worst we’ll get is a longer wait to see our clients. Not Rick: […]

  3. […] Scott Greenfield seems to understand this in the case of criminal defense attorney Rick Horowitz. […]

  4. […] -and his encounter with Juvenile Justice Court security. In his post entitled “Overlords“, Rick paints a disturbing picture of what can only be characterized as […]

  5. […] defense lawyer and blogger Rick Horowitz said something offensive on his blog, which he says, “in retrospect, I even wish I had not said.” This happens all the time. […]

  6. […] Rick was reminded of this when, as a consequence of writing his blog post, he was singled out for invasive and repeated searches at the courthouse as he went about his business of re…. […]

  7. […] what, I don’t know. I would have thought my “Overlords” post would have clarified to anyone who misread the post that started this mess that I am not a […]

  8. […] my own run-in with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department. For details, see my earlier post, “Overlords.” For purposes of today’s post, I just want to point out that I continue to be the only […]

  9. […] I mean, how dare she? He was just exercising his privilege as one of America’s Overlords. […]

  10. […] need the police. We need them to serve and to protect. We do not need them as Overlords. And they need to uphold their oaths to us and to our […]

  11. […] nor do I think that anyone else should just arbitrarily start shooting cops. That’s why, in a comment appended to the same post in which I lambasted the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department for […]

  12. […] I said, it has been a rough year. You already know about the special love exhibited toward me by law enforcement. There have been other, minor, indignities with which I will […]

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