So we offer our own little spy story here at Legal Schnauzer. At least I think it's a spy story. I don't have all the facts nailed down just yet. But I'm getting close. If, and when, I get there, some folks are going to be facing serious issues with federal authorities.
Of course, we already know that federal authorities themselves are abusing the telecommunications industry to illegally gather information on citizens. But I would suggest that abusive surveillance is not limited to federal officials.
Why do we Americans tend to enjoy a good spy story? Probably because of their escapist entertainment value. But I'm talking about a spy story that isn't much fun, particularly when you and someone you love appear to be the victims of spying and are paying a big price because of it. I'm talking about the kind of spying and surveillance that is against the law, big time. And if I'm on the right track, and can prove it, we're talking about gross abuse of federal wires and privacy laws by people in positions of public trust.I don't have all of the specifics confirmed yet, so let me write about this in a general way. Many readers, I'm sure, are interested in the technical matters of surveillance, and those folks might find this spy story particularly compelling. But how might illegal spying hit close to home for regular folks, conducted by local officials? What's it like to be on the receiving end of unlawful spying--or at least to highly suspect you are on the receiving end?
Let me ask you to put yourself into this somewhat imaginary scenario, which is very similar to what I have experienced:
Imagine that, through no fault of your own, you have ticked off a state judge. You only came in contact with this judge because someone filed a bogus lawsuit against you (using an unethical attorney in the process), and you are forced to defend yourself. The case, by law, has to be dismissed (summary judgment) in a matter of six to eight months, but the judge repeatedly makes strange rulings, causing the case to drag on for months, for years.
You visit your local law library to conduct research on the judge's rulings and discover that he is cheating you blind. You also discover that your attorney has to know about this, but is doing nothing to serve your interests, instead playing an ugly and illegal game of softball--at the judge's urging, it seems clear.
The judge, you realize, is corrupt. And once you fire your first attorney--and then a second, who also wishes to play footsie with the judge--you begin to represent yourself. Immediately, you file court documents that let the judge know three things: (A) You know what he's up to; (B) You aren't going to play along; (C) You aren't going to be quiet about his wrongdoing.
This is how you ticked off the judge--by standing up for yourself.
Further imagine this: In the course of these legal proceedings, it becomes known to the opposing side (whose attorney has a cozy relationship with the corrupt judge) that your wife is looking for work.
Your wife has a spotless personal and employment history. She is only in the job market because she had taken a voluntary severance package from her previous employer, which was going through a downsizing after she had worked there for almost 18 years.
For family-health reasons, your wife winds up being out of the workplace longer than expected. But when you are in the midst of this legal unpleasantness, your wife both wants, and needs, to return to the workplace.
With her having been out of the workplace a little longer than planned, you figure it might take some time for her to land a job. But your area's employment picture is good, her work and personal history are spotless, her previous employer was (and is) one of the most respected companies in the state, and she is realistic about positions she should be pursuing. In other words, she is looking for positions that are at or below her level of qualifications. And her qualifications are stout. She was an honor student throughout her time in school, from grade school through college.
Months go by, turning into more than a year, and your wife is having no luck in her job search. Actually, no luck is not quite accurate. She is getting lots and lots of interest--interviews seem to go well, she passes tests with flying colors, hiring managers give her very positive feedback.
But there are no job offers. Meanwhile, you regularly read stories in the local newspaper about your area's low unemployment rate. In fact, employers within a 10-mile radius of where you live are almost desperate for workers. This is the area where your wife is concentrating her job search, but she can't get an offer.
Because of the strain of the lawsuit and your wife's unexpected difficulty in landing a job, your once solid financial picture is starting to darken.
And then things begin to get strange.
(To be continued)