A Nation In Denial

Copyright © James Henry Graf, 1996-2002

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Part 3

My career as a New York State employee ended in 1988. Having made me too sick to do my job, too sick and terrorized to get to work on time, my employers dismissed me on charges of insubordination and time abuse. Ms. Elizabeth Truly, Esq., appointed by Public Employees Federation to represent me in my disciplinary arbitration, insisted that I assume a defensive, penitent stance. When I resisted this, she withdrew from the case. As Ms. Truly had threatened, the union did not appoint another attorney. Ill for several months with simultaneous Epstein-Barr and Cytomegalovirus infections, I was shocked when my personal physician declared me fit for work just in time for the disciplinary arbitration, which I was still too sick to attend. The arbitrator and the State would not postpone the hearing, to which which the union sent no representative at all. This illegal ex parte hearing on November 18, 1988 ended my career. The New York State Public Employment Relations Board dismissed my Improper Practice Charge (Case No. U-10571) without a hearing, then dismissed my appeal, also without a hearing.

Meanwhile, the US Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights, using every trick in the book to avoid confronting the issues, sold out most insultingly (13). On November 18, 1988, the same day as the arbitration hearing that cost me my job, OCR rendered its decision on my second complaint (Docket Number 02-86-3057), which had charged the State with retaliating against me for having filed the first complaint. The decision placed the blame on me, saying that my attitude toward my superiors was the problem. My appeal of this decision was denied.

Numerous attempts in the following year to obtain private legal counsel for an action against my oppressors produced only frustration. At least two New Jersey lawyers went out of their way to insult me.

On March 12, 1989, I wrote to the Christic Institute in Washington, DC [scan]. Shirley Coleman, Legal Assistant, responded on August 29: "The Christic Institute is presently committed to the case of Avirgan et al vs. Hull et al, commonly known as the Contragate case, which demands all of the Institute's litigation resources. The legal team at the Institute is very small and, at this point, we are accepting no other cases and unfortunately cannot accept yours (14)." She suggested that I try ACLU or Legal Services Corporation [scan].

Very well. I sent some documentation on September 20, 1989 to ACLU of New Jersey. Response No. 49789 from Staff Assistant Flavio L. Komuves, dated September 27, suggested using the Freedom of Information Act to obtain documents. No other issue was addressed [scan].

I could be wrong, but this struck me as an example of another frequent dodge. Communications, verbal and written, have implied that the victim, the whistleblower, is really a suspect or a fugitive -- that, if he knew what dirt his adversaries have on him, he would fold up his tent and disappear into the sunset. A number of individuals and agencies have attempted to put me on the defensive, including, and especially, the mental torture teams themselves. For the record, I have never been charged with or convicted of any crime in any state or nation, nor has any court pronounced me "mentally incompetent."

Ms. Coleman's other suggestion was Legal Services. I visited the New Brunswick, NJ office of Middlesex County Legal Services Corporation on October 6, 1989, leaving some documentation. Staff Attorney Paul V. Mullin wrote to me on November 1, stating that the "problem" was "not within our case priorities [scan]." I wrote again on January 23, 1990, asking in what way my case failed to fall within priorities. His response on February 13 stated that mine was considered a "fee generating case" in which the plaintiff seeks monetary compensation for damages, and that Legal Services Corporation could not accept such a case [scan]. Was this a valid excuse for failing to advocate on behalf of the victim of an ongoing crime, for refusing to help that victim obtain the equal protection of the law, for refusing to bring the facts to public attention? What nicely-crafted sophistry! Mr. Mullin must have done well in law school.

It doesn't end there. I paid a visit on March 12, 1990 to the Perth Amboy Legal Services office. Staff there would not deal with me, but put me on the phone to Paul Mullin in New Brunswick, who told me, this time, that Legal Services could not deal with civil rights matters!

Meanwhile, on October 6, 1989, I had finally followed the advice given me three years earlier by Mr. Scott-McLaughlin of the Center for Constitutional Rights, with discouraging but enlightening results. The Middlesex County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service was located in the county courthouse in New Brunswick, in a small office radiating from the law library. A woman at the receptionist's desk told me that no lawyers were there, that attorneys were available only before 1:00 PM. She would not look at my papers or accept them for referral to others. She would not even take down my name, but instructed me to call before 1:00. As I paused outside the door for a moment shuffling papers, a male voice from the adjoining office asked her: "Do you work for the Republican National Committee?" Her answer was "Yes."

August 7, 1989 was the date of my first letter to Human Rights Watch. This organization, unlike Amnesty International, extends its mandate beyond abuse of prisoners. I called myself a torture victim and explained the "stream of consciousness machine." Nancy A. Beatty signed the postal receipt on August 16 [scan], but no response was ever forthcoming.

Human Rights Watch's Executive Director, Mr. Aryeh Neier, gave a speech sponsored by World Goodwill in New York City on August 31, 1989. I was, by then, totally disabled, although my physicians were refusing to document my disability on any grounds other than psychiatric. Summoning all my strength, I drove more than twenty miles to attend the address. Mr. Neier stressed that his organization seeks to "find out about human rights abuses in every conceivable way." He stated that contacts in various countries "point us in the direction of particular victims of abuses so that we can gather testimony from those persons, and from witnesses to abuses (15)." As he waited for the elevator after his speech, I approached him, handed him my August 7 letter and a small stack of documentation, and asked him to show these materials to someone in his organization.

Hearing nothing, I sent Human Rights Watch another letter on February 5, 1990. There was still no response. My phone call to their New York office on February 22 could not be completed. An announcement said "changed to an unlisted number." A human rights organization with an unlisted number?

Again summoning all my strength, I travelled to New York on May 31, 1990 to seek recognition and advocacy at the office of Americas Watch. As I entered, the receptionist told someone on the telephone that everyone was out of the office. A young man, nevertheless, appeared and spoke to me. He said that they did not take up individual complaints and advised me to see ACLU or the New York State Ombudsman. He would not accept fresh copies of my letters, nor did he offer any explanation for his organization's lack of response. I am convinced that he was a government agent. Leaving, dejected and infuriated, I turned at the door, faced the empty reception office, and whispered "God damn all of you!"

My December 5, 1990 letter reminded Mr. Aryeh Neier of his statements before the World Goodwill audience in August, assured him of my sanity, and noted Marlin Fitzwater's comments reported six weeks earlier. Referring to those who had hurt and humiliated me, I wrote: "Theirs is a diabolical, totalitarian agenda. Their disgraceful activities must be exposed to public view and punished with extreme severity. What has happened to me must never happen again, anywhere, to anyone. In the name of humanity, please let the truth be known."

Mr. Neier's response, dated December 17, 1990, stated: "I have received your letter of December 5 and its enclosures and do not see any way that we can assist you as the matter discussed in your letter is beyond our scope and competence. Best regards [scan]."

What, I wondered, was beyond their scope and competence? Political repression? Retaliation against a whistleblower? Illegal discrimination? Invasion of privacy? Defamation of character? Attempted malicious prosecution? Deprivation of legal counsel and the equal protection of the laws? State terrorism? Medical and scientific experimentation without free consent? Torture? What part couldn't they understand?

Notes

  1. My first OCR complaint, Docket Number 02-86-3016 (originally 3013) was first speciously denied, sat dormant for a year and a half on appeal, and then received a new Docket Number, 02-88-3073. The appeal was upheld, but the matter was resolved via a meaningless, sellout "Compliance Agreement" between OCR and the State. My second complaint, Docket Number 02-86-3057, filed April 26, 1986, alleging harassment and retaliation, also dragged on and on, ending in an insulting denial dated November 18, 1988. The OCR decisions did not even acknowledge the out-and-out terrorism inflicted on me during their pendency. Appeals of both decisions were subsequently denied.
  2. One month after Ms. Coleman's August 29 letter, however, an article appeared in the News Tribune, Woodbridge, NJ (now the Home News Tribune, published out of East Brunswick, NJ), dated Friday, September 29, 1989, noting that the Christic Institute was one of two groups filing suit to prevent launch of the nuclear-powered Galileo space probe. Was Ms. Coleman telling the truth?
  3. Aryeh Neier, "Protecting Human Rights," World Goodwill Newsletter, 1990, No.3, p.3.

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