- Even though we have two active law suits in the courts
in the U.S., the German judge, in charge of reading Ernst's mail, has
ruled that Ernst is not entitled to uncensored, confidential correspondence
with our immigration attorney, stating that what was happening in the U.S.
and Canada were merely "administrative" proceedings. Odd, though,
that "administrative" proceedings could justify a political kidnapping,
two years of brutal and humiliating confinement in an isolation cell,
and a 20 year ban on returning to the U.S., in effect ending our marriage
- unless we find a way to let sanity and justice return to this case!
- In the letter below, Ernst tells me of a "typical"
- I was in court on the 16th of August, which meant waking
up at 5:30 a.m. to get ready for the guards who come punctually every morning
at 6:00 a.m. to open the door to make a visual check of each cell to see
if a prisoner is alive or did himself in during the night.
- With me, it's easy - they can see at once that I am alive.
I greet them at my cell door, envelopes ready for the censors or the lawyers,
or a requisition for the staff in hand for pail and broom to clean my cell,
sometimes an order for those lovely CDs of uplifting classical and religious
- The young guard surprised me with a warm smile and asked
me very politely: "Would you like to take a shower before court?"
I had written another letter to you, thinking it would lift your spirits
and hoping to produce something of use and value while I was still allowed
to write and had a real pen, even a fountain pen - such luxury! I had
only turned the light off shortly after 2:00 a.m. so I was grateful for
- I will spare you the ride to court, painfully handcuffed
with my arms behind my back, and the over 3 hour wait in a windowless holding
cell, until I was finally led into a huge courtroom which looked like a
conference center meeting room or a food court in one of America's more
ritzy shopping centers, with white plastic chairs and light blue upholstery.
I have never been in any courtroom in any country anywhere that looked
like that! There was no German flag, and where in America the US flag
and heraldic bird is always present in blue-white, gold-embossed carving,
looking very dignified and stately, here the wall behind the judge's elevated
seats was graced by a stark flat-iron in black matte deer with antlers
of Baden-Würthemberg. I could not believe it!
- One solitary young judge, appr. 45-50 years old, with
a secretary, was sitting slightly elevated, talking to my attorney, Jürgen
Rieger. I thought that Rieger was in Sweden on holidays - I had expected
attorney Sylvia Stolz alone, who was delayed by 20 minutes by an accident
on the Autobahn. I was brought up from my cell, 15 minutes late. Jürgen
was already talking about the Power of Attorney for Bruce, [our American
immigration attorney], and it was dealt with and cleared up. He does not
have to worry. He cannot use the Power of Attorney here, so he can stop
worrying about responsibilities, translations etc. It was a revealing
exercise. Neither of my attorneys understood what Judge M. cleared up very
quickly in an earlier letter - that I was not involved in criminal trials
in Canada or the USA but administrative proceedings, which were not covered
by a privilege protecting client-attorney relationships
- The mail matter came up - that there were boxes of unread
letters at the court, and what to do with it. They simply did not have
the manpower or time to deal with it, etc. In the end it was decided that
whatever was not allowed to be given to me, Jürgen would get. He
would go through it whenever he had a few hours - at least the important
documents, books, etc. which could be useful to the defense rather than
accumulating in the basement of the court or prison.
- I had to give Jürgen permission, noted in the court
record, to read and to store this excessive mail. Amazing, Ingrid, what
consternation that flow of mail has caused in Canada and in Germany! I
always thought that everybody got that much mail. Apparently it seems
to be a lot for most people. Live and learn!
- A few more technical details were dealt with, like the
request by Judge M. about adding one more duty counsel, called Pflichtverteidiger,
which both the lawyers declared as highly irregular - unheard-of in a case
where there are already two defense attorneys paid by us. It seems that
a tentative understanding between Rieger, Scholz and the judge was reached,
and I will write to the judge tonight to summarize the feeling by both
lawyers, offering Frau Stolz as duty counsel, which means I cannot fire
her until the trial is over. That's what they seemed afraid of - that
I would fire her, or Jürgen, or both - or that they would walk out
on me because of the tricky legal situation. They must have some weird,
erroneous, maybe media-generated, distorted view of me. Weird, Ingrid!
All weird stuff, with an air of unreality about it all. If it were not
so far-reaching in its consequences, one could almost find it amusing.
The whole thing lasted maybe 35 minutes.
- Then the lawyers asked me, the judge, and the court staff
if they could talk to me in my cell, which was mercifully permitted. Hours
were spent in that narrow, stuffy cell, with a hard wooden bench for Jürgen,
bolted to the floor, I leaning against the wall, Sylvia sitting in a chair
- upholstered, no less! - brought in by the guards for her. Nothing to
eat, nothing to drink, and no toilet pit stop. There was of course a toilet
in the cell, but naturally, everybody politely refused to use it.
- By the end of the afternoon, we had pretty well arrived
at an understanding, divisions of work and responsibilities - and Jürgen,
who has over 30 years experience as a defense attorney [Strafverteidiger,
literal translation in German: punishment attorney] walked me through
the differences between Anglo-Saxon legal traditions and what they have
evolved and adopted here since Germany's defeat in 1945.
- Ingrid, Bruce discerned that at once when he pointed
out the odd role of the judge in these proceedings. In Anglo-Saxon legal
proceedings, we have an adversarial system. Prosecution and defense appear
before a Solomonic judge who rarely interferes in the proceedings, and
a jury that can overrule a judge. Not here! Here the judges investigate
and try a case. They do most of the questioning and researching, assisted
by the prosecutor. Judges have virtually unchecked powers. There really
are no verifications possible because there are no verbatim court transcripts
to reveal what was said, claimed, stated by whom - which leaves the doors
wide open for quoting someone in a distorted, totally false way - with
emphasis on one thing by the defense, another by the prosecution, and a
third by the judge. Imagine that!
- Since there are no transcripts to go back to, guess whose
views and recollections usually win out? It's a foregone conclusion.
- I was absolutely shocked also by the role of witnesses
and the latitude given them, and by the place of the accused in all this.
What a system! Unbelievable!
- Ingrid, believe me - I was a lucky man, and the Germans
ought to be eternally grateful to me, that I subjected myself to these
grueling trials - to have every word, every document, every nuance recorded
by a neutral court stenographer. It really is a bequest I will leave to
history which ceased to be in Germany when they changed their system away
from what was almost a British system with transcripts and nine instead
of 12 jury members in the 1960s and 1970s.