Upon the occasion of reading emails (lots) about how the City of Santa Ana doesn't respect the Constitution and how [we're] going to bankrupt the City treasury, I dragged the following good advice from my thin store of anecdotage...
As an anarchist who has successfully sued the City, please let me offer the following two-part dose of experience, strength and hope:
The first part is an outgrowth of the difference in our structures - CW membership is communitarian, our leadership nominative by unanimous selection. This allowed us to select one person to be the plaintiff, and then later offer a defined group of plaintiffs. Courts and lawyers won't deal with an undefined plaintiff. Without a plaintiff(s), there's not going to be a suit! (This also implies being able to say additionally and definitively, who is not a plaintiff, even if they disagree!)
The second part was the hardest for me: Learning to pick a lawyer and then foregoing the right to talk, completely, except to answer questions. If any of you have experience with criminal law where the DA really wants to get you, you know even criminal law is arcane, intelligent, demanding; so much so that we have the saying about having a fool for a defendant. Civil law is harder still, and I believe the intersection between the Constitution and City Councils represents some of the most difficult legal practice out there. Witness how many truly great lawyers have toiled in that garden. Those are the decisions that occupy Supreme Courts.
While I am thrilled at the exuberance of the local Occupy Movement, I can tell you why it "Has no legal department."
If you don't undertake the difficult changes I've alluded to, you will persist in confusing email with briefs and hyperbole with useful theories. The only thing those will do is give the City something interesting to cite when it's time to negotiate a settlement offer!
When we finished our lawsuit in 2003, we were owed an estimated $650,000, and we declined to take it: The City, not the Council, is the 99% - how could we steal from our neighbors and their old-age pensions? BTW, that award was for legal fees, not damages. Our cause managed to attract and we managed to obey 20 law firms at once, or we would have been "stalled out." The City can easily defeat one honest, intelligent lawyer - the jails are filled with their clients.
It's time to decide whether OccupyOC is willing to make the kinds of necessary, inevitable compromises that come with civilization: representation, agency and stare decesis.
At this point I don't know how, meaning by what process, you're all going to decide.
I only know what will happen if you don't.