As a longtime leader of grass-roots efforts in Oregon to counter the radical homosexual agenda begins his third week in jail for questioning a judge’s right to preside over the activist’s case, supporters are rallying to free him.
After a contentious Feb. 20 hearing, Lon Mabon, founder of Oregon Citizens Alliance, or OCA, was jailed by Multnomah County Circuit Judge Ronald E. Cinniger. Mabon had failed to attend two hearings related to a lawsuit a lesbian activist filed against Mabon’s organization 10 years ago.
At that time, homosexual-rights activist Catherine Stauffer sued OCA and its then-communications director, Scott Lively, for battery after Lively removed her from a private meeting of OCA members. Mabon supporters claim that in the original trial, Judge Samuel J. Imperati refused to allow the jury to see evidence that Stauffer admitted to trespassing when she attended the meeting.
According to David Crowe, executive director of Restore America, “Imperati threatened the defendant’s attorney with sanctions unless he stopped his efforts to enter the evidence.”
The jury awarded Stauffer $30,000. Only a portion of the award has been paid to date, and Stauffer and her attorneys have continued to pursue the matter in court.
OCA has angered the state’s homosexual activist community for years, having sponsored several ballot initiatives to limit or prohibit new or “special rights” for homosexuals.
According to an Associated Press report, Mabon and his wife, Bonnie, were to testify at a debt hearing on Nov. 26 but failed to appear. A contempt hearing was scheduled for Dec. 12, and again the Mabons did not attend.
After failing to appear at another hearing Feb. 7, a warrant was issued for the Mabons’ arrest. That warrant later was withdrawn when Stauffer’s attorney discovered the court summons listed the wrong time.
Another hearing was set for Feb. 20. While Mabon attended the hearing, he refused to approach the bar of the courtroom due to his belief that Cinniger was not exercising power as a legitimate judge. Mabon contends that since Cinniger did not take the appropriate oath of office specified in the Oregon Constitution, he represents a “false and fictional jurisdiction.”
Cinniger in turn said he would not recognize Mabon unless he approached the bar. The 90-minute standoff ended with Cinniger ordering Mabon to jail.
Reportedly due to a clerical error, the judicial oath taken by many jurists in Oregon omitted the words “and impartially,” and, therefore, the Mabons contend that any judge who took the incomplete oath has no legal jurisdiction to preside over a courtroom. For at least 10 years, the secretary of state’s office sent newly elected judges an incomplete version of the oath.
Last October, Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace P. Carson Jr. attempted to rectify the problem. Carson sent an e-mail to the state’s 163 circuit court judges, asking that they retake their oath of office and return a notarized copy of the oath to the office of the state court administrator.
According to Kim Blanding, pro-tem manager of that office, Cinniger sent her a copy of his newly sworn oath.
The judge’s oath “was notarized Oct. 30, 2001,” Blanding said.
Even so, the oath that Cinniger took, according to Mabon attorney Frank Patrick, is still not the correct one.
Article VII of the Oregon Constitution was amended by initiative in 1910. Since that time, courts have opined that initiatives dealing with multiple issues – including the one amending Article VII – are invalid. The oath Cinniger took at the direction of the chief justice, says Patrick, is one based on the amended article, not the original one. As such, it is Patrick and Mabon’s belief that Cinniger still has no authority as a judge.
“He has refused to take the ‘original VII’ oath,” Bonnie Mabon, OCA’s treasurer, told WND.
OCA is promoting a ballot initiative for this fall’s election that would clarify the matter.
‘I don’t want you in this place’
Although Cinniger threatened Bonnie Mabon with jail as well, she avoided time behind bars by participating in a debtor hearing on Tuesday. Despite her husband’s refusal to recognize Cinniger’s authority, Mrs. Mabon agreed to cooperate with the court.
Asked why she didn’t follow her husband’s lead, Mabon said, “Lon told me: ‘Bonnie, I don’t care what you have to do. I don’t want you in this place.'”
“I complied for the corporation” at the debtor hearing, she said, explaining that she gave the court and opposing attorney all the financial information about OCA that had been requested.
Mrs. Mabon recently reported on her husband’s condition via e-mail: “The peace of the Lord is with him, but he wants to come home. He can only have two visits a week! The bed is a very flat, thin mattress lying on a six-inch slab of cement. He gets two blankets and can’t sleep very well because of the hardness of the slab and the coldness of the place.”
On Feb. 25, supporters of Mabon held a candlelight vigil outside the jail. According to Bonnie Mabon’s e-mail, “He flashed his light off and on [in his cell], letting us know he was watching. It meant a lot to him that we were there.”
Continued Mabon, “They have not even given us an order for contempt, just a temporary order to jail him, which is unheard of in a case like ours. We have nothing that we can appeal, and it seems like everyone is stalling to keep him in there as long as possible.”
In a recent commentary piece, Crowe appealed to Christians to stand up to attempts to “intimidate” those who would dissent: “Will we stand tacitly aside, close our eyes, and blithely conclude that the Mabons ‘got what was coming to them’ as the Oregonian and Portland’s politically correct crowd would like us to believe? Or will we protest, loudly, and in great numbers to those in authority who have responsibility over the judicial system?”
Yesterday, Patrick focused his efforts at freeing Mabon from jail on the fact that his wife has complied with the court’s requests.