Thursday, August 23, 2012



by: Cheryl K. Chumley
Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ex-Marine Raub freed from Va. psychiatric ward
Former Marine Sgt. Brandon Raub enjoys some R&R with a furry friend during one of his overseas deployments. Photo Credit:Facebook
A former Marine who was forced into a psychiatric ward for anti-government Facebook postings has been freed from the hospital by a Virginia circuit court ruling handed down Thursday.

Judge Allan Sharrett dismissed the case against Brandon Raub, 26, who had been detained by government officials in Richmond, Va., and transferred to a VA hospital in Salem, Va. The judge called the petition to continue Raub's forced detention “so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy.”

John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, the civil rights firm that defended Mr. Raub, called the verdict pleasant surprise to a “bizarre” case that seemed more in line with a police state than free America.

“I was very, very surprised,” Mr. Whitehead said in a Thursday telephone interview with shortly after the ruling. “The way the system is erected, there are about 20,000 people committed each year and they never get out that fast. It never happens like this.”

In this instance, the judge was “outraged,” Mr. Whitehead said, and determined to issue a ruling the same day of the hearing. Mr. Raub was expected to be released immediately.

His saga began Aug. 16.

That’s when Mr. Raub was taken into custody at his Richmond home by FBI and Secret Service agents and Chesterfield County Police. He was not charged with a crime, yet he was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police vehicle. From there, Mr. Raub was taken to a police station and then to the John Randolph Medical Facility in Hopewell, Va., for a psychiatric evaluation.

He was never formally arrested or charged with a crime, Mr. Whitehead said.

“He was in his underwear, in his living room, he sees a group of police, FBI agents walking up, he talks with them, he’s asked about some Facebook postings, they handcuff him,” Mr. Whitehead said.

The Facebook postings were part of a private room chat, and included anti-government sentiments and warnings of revolution.

“The biggest thing in his profile is he’s a 9-11 truther,” Mr. Whitehead said. “He’s a Ron Paul libertarian. But so what? Thomas Paine would have been put into an institution" by that standard.

Cathleen Thomas, Mr. Raub’s mother, suggested it was her family’s political activism that drew the attention of the government.

“We’re just a very politically active family," she said in an interview Wednesday. "We keep our pulse on that, on the Constitution, we’re commanded to do that, actually, by the Founding Fathers." Most disturbing, she said, is the fact her son’s Facebook postings were private.

“They had to hack in to it to see it, then they took the comments out of context,” Ms. Thomas said. “Agree with him or not, agree with his comments or not, the bigger question is, why is the government checking on postings in the first place? The point is, he has a right to free speech.”

Mr. Raub also has a right, according to state law, for an order authorizing temporary restraint to be presented from a magistrate within four hours of forced detention. In Mr. Raub’s case, “that didn’t happen,” said Mr. Whitehead. Instead, a special justice granted law enforcement’s request to transfer Mr. Raub to the VA Hospital in Salem, for an evaluation and confinement of up to 30 days. In response, Mr. Whitehead filed a petition with the court contesting both the detention – the failure of government officials to uphold the state statute – and the transfer.

Ms. Thomas, meanwhile, prepared for the long commutes to visit her son.

“It’s a four-hour drive for us to Salem,” she said.

But on Thursday came the news: She only had to make the drive one more time.

Minutes after the ruling, Ms. Thomas was on the road to Salem to bring him home, Mr. Whitehead said. She could not be reached for immediate comment, but legal action could continue, Mr. Whitehead added.

“The mom and son feel aggrieved, being taken without charge and detained, and a civil action is being discussed,” Mr. Whitehead said. “And I want to make sure this doesn’t happen again. If you can handcuff someone and detain them without charge, that’s not freedom. The law must be modified so this doesn’t happen again.”

Mr. Whitehead said he did not have a time frame on when a decision to pursue civil action would be made.

Mr. Raub is a decorated Marine who served as a combat engineer for six years in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ms. Thomas said. His second tour in Afghanistan ended in March 2011, and he left the military with a sergeant’s rank and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, she said. Ms.Thomas said her son received an honorable discharge and was not taking any medication either during or after service.

He lives with his brother and two roommates two miles from his mother’s home.

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