Blawger Rick Horowitz Will Not Be Silenced (Update)

It’s not just for the fabulous wealth, prestige and public adoration that criminal defense lawyers put their butts on the line to speak out against the wrongs of the legal system and its power players. And sometimes, maybe more often than anyone realizes, the targets of criticism decide to pay the lawyer back. Fresno criminal defense lawyer and blawger at Probable Cause, Rick Horowitz, found this out yesterday.

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.

To be clear, as bad as the stories and videos that appear on CDL blawgs may be, there is a reasonable anticipation that we, lawyers, officers of the court as some like to remind us as if that means something, aren’t in the direct line of fire. They may hate us, but they won’t touch us. So we believe.

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.”


Then came the story, the one they make up to justify what they’re doing. It may sound remotely credible, but it’s a lie. An excuse. Making up excuses for doing whatever they’re going to do anyway is a core talent of law enforcement. Of course, we’re not supposed to say this because it detracts from the dignity of the system. But make no mistake, it’s a set up.

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.

So Rick offended them.  And so he would pay for his offense. What was so offensive isn’t clear, as Rick has removed it from his blawg after he decided that it was more offensive than he intended, but notably fueling the anger by writing about their payback.

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.)

There would have been damn good reason for Rick to have challenged his treatment, The idea that his criticism, offensive or otherwise, was cause for a lawyer to be subjected to an intrusive search that no other lawyer goes through because he spoke ill of law enforcement is an outrage and an affront to every blawger.  And his musing, that had he gotten angry and challenged their rifling through his briefcase, where his client files are held in sanctity, the next step would have been a loud protest followed by the sound of flesh being pounded. 

Instead of a post about how Rick Horowitz was treated as payback for saying something mean about the Fresno sheriff, this would be a story about how he was beaten and charged with resisting arrest.  There would be a press conference about how a lawyer went nuts as they were just doing their job, protecting the public against imminent threat, and the lawyer turned belligerent and violent. They had to protect themselves from this maniac. They just had to.

But Rick was neither a maniac nor a fool.  He kept his cool. He refused to play into their hands. He gave them absolutely no cause for a beating, and was fortunate that another criminal defense lawyer stayed with him so that there would be a witness to any lies that might be offered to justify what might come next.

How offensive was Rick’s criticism? It doesn’t matter.  Payback for being critical of law enforcement in a blawg is intolerable.  Rick has had much to say about his perception of the police state and the dwindling options available to us to stop the decline.  His voice has no doubt angered those who depend on the love and ignorance of the public for compliance to their authority.  He has pissed people off.

But Rick Horowitz will not suffer the indignity and payback in silence.  And every blawger, and reader, and judge, and person, should be aware that this is how the Fresno sheriff tried to teach Rick Horowitz a lesson.

Update: After this ball started rolling, some others felt it appropriate to not merely add their voice in Rick’s defense, but to disclose what Rick had written and subsequently deleted.  Most exercised the discretion to honor Rick’s decision to delete the offending language, even though it was readily available by cache if someone felt the need for the titallating details. It was not my place to reveal what Rick chose to delete.

I would not have written what Rick wrote. If I had written it, I wouldn’t have deleted it. But Rick did, and that was his choice.  I can understand why he made that choice, even if it was not the same choice I would have made.  That said, it was not my place to “out” him by including the deleted language, nor was it relevant to the post. While it was a curious aside, it was only an aside.

The point of the post is what the Frenso Sheriff did to Rick for having written something on his blawg that was critical of them and they found offensive. It doesn’t matter, to me at least, what he wrote. Apparently, it mattered enough to others that they chose to “out” the language Rick deleted. I strongly disagree with that choice, and I regret my role in starting this ball rolling that ended with people who felt it was their place to “out” Rick Horowitz rather than honor his decision to delete it.

18 thoughts on “Blawger Rick Horowitz Will Not Be Silenced (Update)

  1. Rick Horowitz

    Thank you for the support.

    Although I’m sure they would have been glad to take me down if I reacted at the security checkpoint, the area where we think they were trying to set me up is much more dangerous than that.

    It’s in an area of the court where I can’t leave unless someone unlocks a door, which usually means I need a bailiff. (Prosecutors, probation officers, public defenders, and regular conflict counsel have keys, too. As a private attorney, I don’t.) We also think there are no cameras there, although that doesn’t matter much. One of my clients was attacked by deputies in that facility once, and when we tried getting video, we were told all cameras, except a distant one that provided fuzzy video of only part of the action, had malfunctioned.

  2. SHG

    There are certain things that cannot happen, and any effort, whether harrassment or worse, to punish you for your commentary is intolerable.  Happy to lend my voice.

  3. Daniel

    I feel for Rick. I’m not an attorney but I do handle any cases against me pro per. I have fairly recently been kicked out of the courthouse three or four times (once physically and the other times under the threat of physical violence), in somewhat similar circumstances except it wasn’t for something I wrote. It really irritates me to watch the prosecutors walking in and out of the court building without being searched. But defense attorneys obediently enter without objection to being treated like criminals. Don’t get me wrong. I understand it, but I don’t like it. It must be the empathy in me, lol.

  4. Antonin I. Pribetic

    This apprehended ‘need’ is way down on Maslow’s hierarchy totem. Whether Rick’s statements were ill-advised, rhetorical hyperbole, or fugue state ramblings, is irrelevant. Some blawgers should know better.

  5. Rick Horowitz

    I don’t usually mind if my complaints offend people, which is probably a bad trait. If I think it’s true, I say it.

    That said, when I wrote the words which I have since deleted, it was something of a rhetorical flourish. In retrospect, a dumb rhetorical flourish, but that’s how it was intended.

    When I heard it repeated BACK to me, it felt a bit like a slap in the face. It offended ME.

    And that’s why I took it down. I left the basic post in place to try to make the point I thought I was making. (I’m starting to regret even that.)

    It bothers me immensely that people feel the need to resurrect something which has come to have a different effect than what I intended. Although it was deliberately phrased in the subjunctive (again, because it was rhetorical), in terms of offensiveness, it’s beyond the kind of offensive I want to be.

    And I wish it was not being reposted.

    That said, what it has brought about is even more wrong.

  6. SHG

    It doesn’t matter what I (or anyone else, frankly) would have done. You did what you thought was right for you. You don’t need to explain it further. You (like me or anyone else) are entitled to make your own choices. There was no reason not to respect your decision to delete the language.

  7. Don

    I can understand the temptation to go look. If we weren’t curious people why would we read and write stuff on the internet. I absolutely DO NOT understand what sort of impulse and lack of courtesy drives someone to reveal what someone decided to redact from their own forum. You found out what you wanted, what makes you the arbiter of what gets to be public or not? Crappy behavior, that.

  8. Rick Horowitz


    I think I’m going to sit back awhile, shut up, and think some more.

    I’m not telling people what to write, anymore than I want to be told what to write. The cat is, I guess, out of the bag. I don’t agree with reasons that have been presented to me as to why it had to be resurrected, but, hey, many people (including you) disagree with what I originally wrote, yes?

    But, again, thanks for the support.

  9. SHG

    Whether I disagree means nothing. Blawgers disagree with what each other writes constantly. So what? But I absolutely support you against what happened as a result of what you wrote. About that, I am unequivocal.

  10. John_Barleycorn

    Mr. Horowitz, I for one hope the underlying frustration and point of your original and modified post do add a few more drops of clarity to the increasingly rusty bucket of the criminal justice system throughout the land.

    You are my hero for the week and in the spirit of the “killer” bunny from Monty Python’s Holy Grail
    I say well done sir. Lets hope they get a toehold on perspective down at your local house of justice before they start pondering if they will have to resort to the holy hand grenade to silence you.

    [The five minute long youtube version of the Holy Grail Killer Bunny not linked or embedded here as not to foist any undue threat assessment comedy on the situation at hand.]

  11. Sam Glover

    You can all stop saying “someone” and call me out, if you like. Unless someone else dug up the cached post and published it.

    My reason for doing so was simple. Without the original post, there is a big, gaping hole in this story. The original post is necessary context.

  12. Daniel

    OK, I just read the cached version of what Rick wrote in his blog post. As far as I’m concerned, it was understatement has to how bad it often is in California. Rick, be proud of what you wrote. It was not wrong. Not by a long shot.

  13. SHG

    Yes, you decided that it was needed for  your post. That’s what matters, since this is all about you and whatever you decide matters is far more important than Rick. As long as it was good for you. After all, what matters more in this situation than you.

  14. Frank

    Personally, I would have left it up. I have written things just as bad — one has left me unable to fly commercial carrier courtesy of Homeland Security (which sounds better in the original German).

  15. SHG

    Boy, you’re treading awfully close to the line with that comment. I saw what you did.

    Regardless of what you (or I) would do, we can still respect Rick’s choice. Morbid curiosity of readers doesn’t change that.

Comments are closed.