Free the Dragon! Newsletter  5/23/01 UPDATE

THIS IS AN EMAIL NEWSLETTER CONCERNING THE LEGAL CASE OF BRIAN DRAGON MANGAN. THIS E-NEWSLETTER IS SENT INCONSISTENTLY, WHEN UPDATES OR NEW INFORMATION BECOME AVAILABLE. PLEASE DISTRIBUTE FREELY. Free the Dragon, P.O. Box 90408, Santa Barbara, CA 93190-0408, email: freethedragon@hotmail.com

QUICK SUMMARY:
The California State Court of Appeals in Ventura delivered a unanimous decision against Dragon. Robert Landheer will file an appeal to appear before the same court again, which will probably be denied, however that will register our contempt for their decision and how they represented the facts of the case. Landheer will also file a motion to be allowed to publish the judges decision, which may also be denied, but will cause a copy of the decision to be sent to the Justices of the California State Supreme Court.

His office will most likely petition to have this case heard by the State Supreme Court, which will probably decline to hear it. At present, it is most likely that sometime in July of this year Dragon will be remanded back into custody and begin serving approximately 15 actual months in state prison. If we can take this to the next level, it will possibly be to the Federal District Court of Appeals in July, and it would probably take 6 months at least to get a decision out of them. Assuming we can continue this fight, Landheer will most likely file a motion for Dragon to stay free on bail pending his appeal to the Federal District Court, a motion that will most likely be denied.

TONS OF DETAILS, OPINIONS, ANALYSIS & HISTORY:
I have been completely avoiding writing and sending out this email. This is a worst-case scenario at this point in this cause. It s taken days for it to really sink in, and a few long phone calls with Dragon for me to begin to come back up from the depth of this impact. It seems ironic, but it was Dragon who comforted me most, and he s the one who s probably headed to imprisonment later this summer. He s spent the last two years of freedom gathering strength, spiritually, physically and emotionally. If, indeed, he does serve time in prison, he s more ready than ever to use it for all possible good. He says he just keeps getting stronger and stronger, and he s also more ready than ever to continue the fight for the protection of all of our rights and freedoms, even if it doesn t affect his prison term.

He sees this as an issue of karma and destiny, meant to be for a higher purpose. Personal and individual freedoms are being eroded away daily now in our courts and this is his and our chance to draw the line and resist this New World Order.

From a recent conversation with Dragon I now have a new image to focus on, sort of my own take on something he described to me. Picture a Dragon, powerful with gleaming eyes, sitting atop a great white steed with powerful legs, nostrils flaring. There are more resources than necessary in this image, power overflowing, and ready for any challenge.

OUR HISTORY OF ACCOMPLISHMENT:
You ve achieved this, it s what we ve all participated in for over three years. Originally, Dragon was targeted by the Santa Barbara D.A. for not just humiliation in the media, not just to lose his wife and property, but the D.A. s office was COMMITTED to putting him away in state prison for over 15 YEARS! There was NEVER any deal or plea bargain offered, and the word came down that there WOULDN T be any deal offered, ever! Everything about Dragon s life was held up to the world as evidence that he was horrible, our enemy, a menace to society: his religious beliefs, his love relationships, his art, his appearance.

Dragon was lured back to Santa Barbara, to turn himself in by declarations that the D.A. was only considering charging him with Having a house of ill repute , a 30 day in jail misdemeanor at best. Once they had Dragon, and realized they weren t going to have Zea (his wife) to charge, try, and convict, they just went hog wild with anything and everything they could drum up against Dragon. He was thrown in jail awaiting trial on $100,000.00 bail. Can you imagine sweet, gentle Dragon in jail? It was absurd and cruel. No one is held on $100,000.00 bail for these charges, even murderers often aren t held on bail that high. It was just grandstanding for the media, justified by inflammatory rhetoric about the mayhem of pagan rituals and such. We fought hard to both raise bail to get him out and to get the bail reduced. It took awhile, but our attorney at the time, Jeffery Douglas, finally pulled off the miracle of getting the bail reduced by HALF, and then we as a team raised that bail and got Dragon out of Jail. We did that together!

Over the course of the trial, it was tough, but we raised money for his legal defense and mounted a public information campaign while Dragon continued to impress all concerned with the trial, including the opposition. When Dragon was convicted he was taken back into custody, and put in jail to await sentencing. We, all together, mounted an incredible campaign to get him out on bail again, but this time bail was set at a Phenomenal $200,000.00! How would we ever raise THAT? Miraculously, together, we actually started to get close to that amount, but then the D.A. s office suddenly brought a new bail amount of an Additional $20,000.00 on separate charges they were holding over Dragon s head. It was a tremendous setback, but we again rallied and raised it all! $220,000.00 bail!

Dragon walked into court for sentencing still a free man, out on $220,000.00 bail! His Community, all of you, again rallied to his aid with letters to the judge supporting Dragon as well as upstanding citizens to testify before the judge at to Dragon s character and his contributions to us all in this society. What we achieved together was TREMENDOUS! The D.A. s office stopped requesting the maximum possible prison sentence and the judge was actually reluctant to be forced by law to sentence Dragon to the minimum sentence required by law, 3 years in prison with credit for time served. And the D.A. also stopped asking for separate time to be served for other charges, so no more time was stacked up against Dragon.

If those miracles weren t enough, the judge then let Dragon stay out (free) on bail these last two years pending his appeal of his conviction before the Appellate Court! AND HE EVEN GREATLY REDUCED DRAGON S BAIL FROM $220,000.00 DOWN TO A TOTAL OF $70,000.00!!!! At that moment in court, during sentencing, when the judge gave only the minimum sentence and announced he d be letting Dragon stay out on bail pending his appeal, as well as reducing that bail so dramatically, Dragon later said it was almost an out of body experience, for a moment he felt like he didn t know where he was. It was a HUGE VICTORY, and it is OUR Achievement! Thank you for all of your support and work for Dragon s freedom and to uphold our individual rights in this country!

Because of your support and our achievements, Dragon is ready to continue the fight and to serve several months in prison, if necessary. Thank you all for your partnership and every way in which you participated and supported in this effort over the last 3 years! It s a result we can all be proud of!

A STORY OF OUR DAY IN THE APELLATE COURT:

May 10, 2001, Landheer argued Dragon s appeal before the panel of Judges and answered their questions. Basically there was no legal consent given for the officers to search the premises, and everything else came from that illegal search, hence the case should be thrown out.

We had to go through a full metal detector search to enter the courtroom, to sit in specially designed church pews in a holy and reverent atmosphere. Our Champion, Robert Landheer, standing before the thrones of these masters of their universe. The Justices were separated from us by a regal looking bar, elevated above us, yet also separated by a supposed commitment to the letter of the Law of the Land. They preside over this bizarre mixture of law, fairness & what is right , overshadowed by the sweeping right wing sentiment drifting over our entire country.

One of the Justices asks a question betraying his leanings, he asks, Weren t these officers just conducting a robbery investigation, .just doing their jobs? My heart sank, this panel will provide total support for the police, regardless of the facts or the precedents set by higher courts.

The decision arrived so soon after that court date, it s like it was written before we were even heard. 3 judges unanimous against us.

His freedom is Our freedom.

Love to you all, and thank you for your continued support,

Steve Iddings 805-687-2538 vml & fax havetech@rain.org

OLD MONEY NEWS:
We re in debt past our eyeballs, and one major regret is that we still owe Landheer $8,600.00 when he s deserves a lot better considering all he and his team have done for Dragon.

Details and Messages: We ve spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000.00 over the last three years in this fight. That s figuring in EVERYTHING as we were trying to keep Dragon Free since August of 1998. On the other hand, the city and county of Santa Barbara, as well as the state of California, have spent possibly around THREE MILLION DOLLARS processing and prosecuting this entire case. It s completely ludicrous! No one who has ever gotten to know Dragon has ever considered him a threat to society, or anyone. We re not a better or safer society because our government spent this money trying to put this artist in prison and keep him there for fifteen years.

It s not that we still owe Robert Landheer, Dragon s attorney, $8,600.00 of the $25,000.00 total for the appeals process. We actually owe him, and his team, a tremendous amount more than that, but we ll probably only be able to pay him the remaining $8,600.00 we owe for his work on Dragon s appeal. Not only has Landheer been an incredibly powerful attorney and ally in this fight, but he s continued to orchestrate giving his services to us at bargain prices, for which we will always be grateful. If you can help out with this legal cost, you can give it directly to Landheer or send it to the Free the Dragon P.O. box or you can just give it directly to Dragon if you see him. Any help would be much appreciated.

REPEATED INFORMATION FROM PREVIOUS ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Every delay in this case has been to Dragon s benefit, even in this part of the process. There was some minor clerical problem with the County of Santa Barbara, and apparently augmentation of the record has taken some time. Every delay meant that Landheer had more time to prepare the best defense possible and Dragon has had more time free on bail. Make no mistake about it, this case has always been about freedom, freedom of religion and of lifestyle. His freedom is Our freedom. Whether it s Yahoo announcing it s pulling all adult content off their websites and then finding out they think everything related to tantric yoga to be unacceptable or just the fear that I ve seen in the eyes of every one of Dragon s supporters as they realized that they could be the next to be targeted. The District Attorney s office went to great lengths in court and in the media to portray Dragon as a total menace to society for his lifestyle and religious practices. He s Wiccan, Pagan, a Modern Primitive, an Artist, Poly, Bi, Sexually free even with BD/SM. He was considered a well-loved local celebrity here in Santa Barbara, and hence was made a martyr by the modern Inquisition.

Personally, I, like so many other supporters and friends of Dragon, stretched myself thin in order to keep Dragon free. As a result, I ve been burning the candle at both ends to keep afloat financially these last two years. I've also lost a few friends and some business because of my association with Dragon. As I told Dragon, it all seems like a very minor inconvenience to pay in order to keep him from losing 15 years of his life to prison. I m grateful I ve had this chance to participate in something so clearly making a difference and expressing my faith beyond just my life.

I sometimes also raise money for other non-profit charities here in town, including a men s chorus I am a member of where we just had our annual fundraising drive. We were proud to be printing up and distributing lists of all our supporters and patrons. By contrast, in Free the Dragon, we ve NEVER been able to publicly acknowledge you who support Dragon. I ve never listed anyone by name in these emails, and for the first year I made a point of not keeping records of names of supporters in case I was raided by the police for exactly that kind of information. Personally, I m a Christian, and I know Judeo-Christian history quite well. Given the history of persecution Jews and Christians have endured through the millennia, you d think that when they re in power they d be tolerant, strong in their faith and cherishing the diversity in our society. Don t get me wrong, there are a lot of us, of all faiths and lifestyles who are embracing diversity as our strength. However, Intolerance and Persecution seem to still reign like we ve learned nothing from the past, not even from the times when we were on the receiving end. Make no mistake about it, his freedom is our freedom.

As a community, Free the Dragon has been dispersed to the four corners, living into brighter futures. Since all of this started, I believe I know of three new births and another on the way amongst the many supporters. I miss seeing you all, and hope we can have some kind of reunion at our leisure, under the best of circumstances. Dragon s been working on images for a beautiful Tarot Card Deck, and there may be a new website promoting his works coming in the near future. Read on for more history of this case and it s legal and social ramifications.

A little more history of this case:

1. Around 10pm on August 24th, 1998, a cop arrived at 221 West Canon Perdido. He showed up in response to a 911 call, placed by a neighbor about a woman screaming and suspicious characters, etc. When he arrived he found a victim standing in the driveway in a night garment of some kind with a minor head wound where she had been pistol whipped by some unknown assailants who had also robbed her. The first and second officers on the scene checked out the premises to make sure there were no other suspects or victims. Fine, no problem, maybe that had to be done for safety sake. However, at that point, there was no longer any emergency or need to be in those premises without a warrant or permission. For the next 5 hours, officer after officer showed up and marched through the house, searching it as they went, taking photographs, looking into covered trashcans, etc. They had no emergency need to do this, everyone was safe at that point, and their testimony clearly indicates this. So, were they ever invited to come in and search the premises, take photos, take fingerprints etc.? The victim sure didn t invite them in, and didn t want them there, that was clear from her testimony and even supported by the testimony of a neighbor and officers at the scene. However, at one point, early on, the first officer at the scene said to the victim, Let s go inside . He said this as he led her back inside the premises. For the Municipal Court Judge, that was good enough. The victim didn t put up enough resistance at that point, therefore her acquiescence could be construed as consent to search the premises. This is a very important point. Legal cases establishing precedents for the application of 4th Amendment rights clearly lay out that consent to search must be obtained from someone who has the right to give that consent. (Even if I was visiting you or employed by you, I couldn t give consent to the police for them to search your home or business. Thus, a maid, can t give consent to the police to search your hotel room for example, even if she s there in your hotel room when they come knocking.) Furthermore, the precedent has been established that the consent given must be freely given, intelligently given, etc. Are you catching the drift? The only exception is if there is an immediate safety concern, like firefighters needing to get into a burning building, or the obvious ongoing commission of a crime, or the immediate need to search for victims or suspects in order to secure an area.

Otherwise, without consent, authorities are supposed to keep the external area secure while they wait for a validly obtained search warrant before searching an area for evidence. Was the victim asked for consent to search the premises? No, that is very clear, she was never asked. Did the victim have the authority to give consent to search the premises? No, but the Municipal Court Judge held that with what the officer on the scene knew at the time, it was reasonable to hold that the officer believed in good faith that the victim did have the proper authority to be able to give consent to re-enter the premises after the immediate safety concerns were history. So, did the victim give consent to the officers to re-enter the premises and to walk through, examining the place closely, officer after officer, for the next 5 hours? Well, according to this Municipal Court Judge, the victim s non-verbal acquiescence, when she allowed the officer to lead her back into the premises, as the officer says, Let s go inside , THAT was equivalent to the victim being asked if she had the authority to give consent, the victim then claiming that she did have the proper authority to give that consent and then being asked if she freely and intelligently gave her consent for the officers to re-enter the premises, and then, in response to being asked, she freely and intelligently gave that consent.

This is obviously a big stretch. I m proposing that this judge stretched the legal definitions so that she could claim that these circumstances fall inside of acceptable 4th Amendment protections. Therefore, the whole 5 hours of searching stands as legitimate. Hence, when the product of those 5 hours of experiences inside the premises inspired officers to go obtain a search warrant for those premises because their experiences raised suspicions that it might be a place where illegal sexual activity had taken place, that search warrant and it s products stand as legitimate and admissible in a court of law. Then later on in the case, the Superior Court Judge ruled that the Municipal Court Judge was right, proper consent was given. Now it s up to us to file a writ of habeas corpus with the Appellate Court to bring these issues up in that venue, whether after the emergency was over, (in the first few seconds at the premises), that the officers should have secured the location and gotten proper legal consent &/or a warrant before entering again in order to preserve everyone s constitutional right to not have our lives be trampled through by the authorities without full and warranted justification or consent, (consent properly obtained, freely and intelligently given).

SOAP BOX:
Why is this important to you? Because if you don t stand up and protect YOUR rights when you see them stepped over in someone else s case, then our society goes back to being like all those other countries around the world where someone you may not even know calls the police, says something bad about you, and then the police just show up unannounced at 4 in the morning, bust through your door, scare the living crap out of you, your family, your lover/spouse, and proceed to loudly trash the place, taking whatever they want, including your computer with all of your important information and current work, your checkbook and financial records, your rolodex and phone bills, your entire video collection and some of your books, as well as notes, clothing, tools, toys, etc. Let s say you re lucky enough NOT to be carted off that night straight to jail, let s say you ONLY spend the next full three years being dragged through the courts and through the press and media. Touted as horrendous, malicious menace to society. You beg or borrow well over $500,000.00 from your friends, every family member, all the equity in your home, all the credit cards are max'd out, all your savings gone. You spend it all defending yourself trying to keep yourself and your loved ones out of jail, as well as trying to get all of your stuff back. Let s say, you re one of the REALLY lucky ones, and if at the end of three years of hell, legally you are cleared of all charges or they are just dropped. You have to declare bankruptcy and lose your house anyway, because you re so broke and deep in debt you d need the space shuttle to get up above the financial muck you re buried under. And for as long as you live, everyone in the community/city/state, everyone in your circle of friends and family all look at you through this filter of you having been suspected of that heinous offense, whatever it is, it becomes your stigma.

Why did the District Attorney in Santa Barbara target Dragon for this invasive, powerful, and terrifying persecution? He was a well-known celebrity for his alternative lifestyle and looks. He was high profile in local parades and local positive newspaper articles. When the authorities got in and turned over every nook and cranny of his life, they were INCENSED and outraged by the evidence of his Pagan, Poly, Bi, BD/SM, Wiccan, Primitive, Sexually free, Artist s lifestyle. From that moment on, they have focused on finding anything they could use to nail him with, and they found it in his wife s massage business. The D.A. s office was COMMITTED to seeing to it that Dragon have to serve 15 years in prison. That is what we ve been fighting to prevent for almost three years now.

His freedom is Our freedom.
 

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