An elderly man is suing two federal government agencies for Constitutional rights violations. The rancher claims that both agencies trespassed on his property and installed cameras on his trees without his permission – but the icing on the cake was when they threatened to arrest him.
According to ARS Technica, last November a 74-year-old rancher and attorney was walking around his ranch just south of Encinal, Texas, when he happened upon a small portable camera strapped approximately eight feet high onto a mesquite tree near his son’s home. The camera was encased in green plastic and had a transmitting antenna. The rancher removed the camera, and that’s when the trouble began for the feds involved in this property violation.
Soon after, Ricardo Palacios, the rancher, received phone calls from Customs and Border Protection officials and the Texas Rangers. Each agency claimed the camera as its own and demanded that it be returned. Palacios refused both, and they threatened him with arrest. Palacios saw the camera as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. So he sued. He sued both CBP and the Texas Rangers for continued violation of his property and Constitutional rights.
“My client is 74 years old, he’s a lawyer, been practicing for almost 50 years, he has no criminal history whatsoever, law-abiding citizen, respected lawyer, and senior citizen,” Raul Casso, one of the attorneys representing Palacios, told Ars. “To have put him in jail would have been—forget the indecency of it—what a way to end a career.”
The camera now remains in Palacios’ attorneys’ possession while they are attempting to ask the case’s judge to allow them to formally introduce it in court as evidence. This federal lawsuit has raised thorny questions about the limits of the government’s power to conduct surveillance on private property, without the landowner’s permission.
“As a matter of policy, CBP does not comment on pending litigation,” Jennifer Gabris, a CBP spokeswoman, emailed Ars Technica. The Texas Department of Public Safety similarly declined comment.
Nothing makes freedom lovers happier than seeing others stand up to the abusive rights violations of the federal government. Godspeed, Palacios!