Monday, 26 July 2004

Hearing tomorrow on challenge to MBTA dragnet

U.S. District Court Judge George A. O'Toole has scheduled an emergency hearing tomorrow, Tuesday, 27 July 2004 on the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction against unwarranted searches without probable cause of passengers on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) public transit system.

The case filed today is American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, et al. v. MBTA (CA04-11652). The "et alia" includes the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and several individual MBTA riders.

Tomorrow's hearing will be at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 9 on the 3rd floor of the Joe Moakley Courthouse on Fan Pier in South Boston, just across the Fort Point Channel (on foot, take the Old Northern Avenue Bridge) from the South Station area and the downtown waterfront.

With 15,000 journalists assembled within a half hour's walk of the courthouse, it will be interesting to see how the assertion of the Constitutional right of the people peaceably to assemble -- in the midst of a political party and press assembly-- gets reported.

To those who have asked: I'm not in Boston this week, although I'm an Eastern Massachusetts native and have been following events there closely through reports from family and friends.

There is at least one world traveller and reader of this blog on the scene, however: the thoughtful Peter Rukavina of Reinvented.net , who I've mentioned before in this space, is one of the bloggers who have been credentialled as news media to cover the Democratic Party National Convention (although for some reason even he can't fathom he seems to have been categorized as his own wire service, rather than as a blogger). He's a fan of my columns on The Amazing Race (hope he doesn't miss tomorrow night's episode, or at least is taping it), and devotes a section of his blog to reviews of around-the-world travelogues.

Thus far, his dispatches have focused on the difficulty of getting to Boston from Charlottetown, P.E.I. (Prince Edward Island, Canada). People in bigger cities sometimes forget that it often takes longer to get between secondary cities in the same region of North America, or elsewhere, than between the biggest cities on opposite sides of the world. Residents of the largest population centers have been the big winners (after the airline industry) from airline deregulation, at the expense of people in smaller cities and rural areas.

[Addendum: Reinvented.net is on the story with copies posted of the complaint and motion for a preliminary injunction against the MBTA. (Thanks, Peter!). Look for a report on the hearing in the Reinvented blog. If you are going to the hearing, be forewarned that PDA's cell phones, camera, laptops, etc. all must be checked at the entrance, and the guards at the Federal courthouses in Boston have a history of hostile over-reaction to people they perceive as "protesters" attending court hearings. So be prepared for the possibility of delays getting into the courthouse if a crowd shows up, and get there as early as you can. Meanwhile, the Boston Independent Media center has a report by a T passenger of being stopped and searched after going through the turnstiles, apparently on the basis of their appearance, further confirming the allegations in the complaint and contrary to claims by the T that searches would be conducted at T entrances (where those declining to consent to search could still leave without having paid) and would be strictly random, chosing every n-th person from a single-file line.]

Link | Posted by Edward on Monday, 26 July 2004, 11:36 (11:36 AM) | TrackBack (2)
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