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Running head: The Constitution and Our Rights 1

The Constitution and Our Rights

Carlos Mendoza

University of Texas at El Paso


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The Constitution and Our Rights

The Constitution of the United States of America was ratified on September 17, 1787.

The Bill of Rights contained only ten Amendments, but since its ratification, it now contains

twenty-seven. Why am I giving you historical facts? The answer is simple. Most of us have had

an encounter with a Police officer and if you haven’t yet, you probably will at some point of your

life. The true question is, have you complied or will comply with all of the Officer’s requests?

There are many officers that act on the color of the law and do expect you to comply to their

requests. You have rights; You are covered by OUR Constitution! There was an incident where

Philip Turner was illegally detained for recording a police station in Fort Worth, Texas. Mr.

Turner was aware of his Constitutional rights and appealed to The United States Court of

Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In another incident, we have a blue-collar divorcee that has read up

on his rights and stands his ground by not identifying himself to a Socorro Police Department

Police Officer. (C. Mendoza. Public Conversation. January 7,2018). The two selected genres will

be rhetorically reviewed.

Audience and Purpose

The first selected genre is the appeal of Philip Turner to the Fifth Circuit Court in New

Orleans, Louisiana filed February 16, 2017. Turner filed the appeal when the Northern District

of Texas granted the motion to dismiss his case citing basis of qualified immunity. The intended

audience is every American to include but not limited to: American born citizens, naturalized

citizens without regard to class, race, gender, age or religion. This appeal and the concurrent

ruling is to inform and educate the public on our Constitutional rights.


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The second genre is a video filmed by Maria Mendoza. She films the encounter between

a Socorro Police Department and her husband, Carlos Mendoza on January 7, 2018. Mendoza’s

objective is to challenge the Police Officer’s demands and demonstrate to his ex-wife that he will

not be intimidated by a Police Officer. The intended audience were: Officer Sierra, Mrs.

Zaragoza and Mr. Mendoza’s family. The purpose was to educate the Officer, let Mrs. Zaragoza

know that Mendoza was not intimidated by her taking an Officer to his house, and to show his

children that you should not fear the Police if you have not committed a crime.

The intention for both genres are to educate and inform. Turner’s appeal brings light to

the fact that our First Amendment right had not being clearly established in 2015 in the recording

of any police activity or the filming of a public building form a public ease way. After his appeal,

the Fifth Circuit Court ruled that public photography and recording of any police activity or

public building is not a crime; therefore, you can not be illegally detained or arrested for doing

the aforementioned. Texas, place where Turner’s incident took place, is not a stop and ID state.

Mr. Turner refused to identify himself to the Officers and was handcuffed and detained illegally

until Lieutenant Driver showed up to the scene and subsequently released him. Even though he

was handcuffed and shove into a squad car the officers claim that he was not arrested but

acknowledged that he was detained. Turner’s actions resulted in our first constitutional right

being clearly established when concerning public buildings and public servants. Since the

February 16th, 2017 ruling there has been an increase of self- proclaimed auditors that conduct

First Amendment audits around the nation on state and federal agencies. Law enforcement has

“beefed up” their training. Mrs. Mendoza’s video also portrays the assertion of the recording of

a public servant. The officer in the video is aware and properly trained that there is no

wrongdoing with the recording. Mr. Mendoza also is aware that Texas is not a stop and ID state
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and also refuses to identify himself to the officer. Sierra agrees that Mendoza does not have to

identify himself but tries several times to get Mendoza’s full name and he only receives

Mendoza’s first name. The differences in the genres is that Mr. Turner was illegally detained due

to the lack of training of the officers while the officer in the video was properly trained. Mendoza

was not detained because Sierra was properly trained. Another difference are Turner’s legal

matters; the actions of Mendoza’s encounter did not acquire legal costs or court proceedings. We

can conclude that the actions Mendoza took were justified by Turner’s actions.

Ethos

Turner’s appeal is a court document that was filed in February of 2017 by clerk Lyle W.

Cayce of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Philip Turner was a Computer

Science Major at Austin Community College in Texas. This document is twenty-six pages long

and is in black and white. The appeal was heard by Circuit Judges Weiner, Clement and

Higginson. The Defendants in this case were Officer Grinalds, Officer Dyess and their

supervisor, Lieutenant Driver. The Plaintiff and the Defendants all had counsel present. This

document refences other hearings with similar cases and cites current laws. This genre is very

credible. Mrs. Mendoza’s video portrays the interaction between a blue collar, university student

divorcee and a Socorro Police Department Officer who has taken an oath to protect and to serve.

The video was taken at night and thus is kind of dark; only illuminated by the cellphone light and

Officer Sierra’s flashlight. This video is seven minutes and forty seconds long. In the video you

can see Officer Sierra, whom identifies himself as such and provides his badge number, the

daughter in question, Mr. Mendoza and you can see Mrs. Zaragoza’s truck. You can hear Mrs.

Mendoza, a baby, Nathalie, Mendoza’s mother. You can assume that Mrs. Zaragoza is in the

2007 white Toyota Tundra as the officer states that she had contacted him and requested him to
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accompany her to Mendoza’s house to assist her in getting her child back. There is no evidence

that anyone else is in the truck.

Pathos

The court document expands our First Amendment. We all can be educated and reminded

of our constitutional rights by reading Turner’s appeal. This appeal has shaped the way for many

self-proclaimed constitutionalists that thrive on their rights. Mrs. Zaragoza’s video shows a

perfect educated encounter between Officer Sierra and Mr. Mendoza. Mr. Sierra seems very

educated, polite and aware of the Amendments. The persons educated in this video were Mrs.

Zaragoza. She learned that she can not use the police for a civil issue and that the police do not

have the right to strip a father from his daughter. Mr. Sierra advised her that this has to be

resolved in Family Court. Mr. Mendoza’s family was educated in the proper way to interact with

a police officer. Officer Sierra was not educated in this video as he was very savvy of his duties,

responsibilities, and course of actions.

Logos

The court document enrages readers when they come to the part that details the officer’s

actions toward Mr. Turner. There is one paragraph where Mr. Turner askes Officer Grinald that

what would happen if he refuses to identify himself. The officer continues to ask for his

identification. When the Officers gets tired of asking him for his identification, without warning

they handcuff him, take his video camera away and shove him in their patrol car. Then Officer

Grinalds looks at him and tells him that that is what happens when you fail to ID yourself. This

abuse of power. You do get a sign of relief and justice when the Presiding Judge partially rules in

favor of Turner. The video captures the interaction of the Socorro Police Department Officer and
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Mr. Mendoza. This is a homemade video that is not great in quality but does get the point across.

The badge on the Officer, the radio and the uniform identify him as a public servant. This is a

credible homemade video.

Structure and Delivery

Turner’s appeal is very structured. On the first page it lists the Plaintiff and the Defendants. It

goes on to give a brief description of the incident that occurred between the Defendant and the

Plaintiffs. That is followed by facts and proceedings about the case. On page 4 it has the standard

review of the case followed by the Analysis. The conclusion can be found on page 26. The

language is that used in court proceedings, very proper English. On twenty of the twenty-six

pages at the bottom you will find references to other documents and related cases in other states.

The homemade video is normal everyday blue-collar working English language. It starts off with

the Officer arriving at Mr. Mendoza’s residence. The encounter is brief. Mendoza briefly tells

the officer that he does not have to let his daughter go but that he will let her go. The daughter is

escorted by Sierra to her awaiting mother in the Toyota Tundra. The video is ended when Mrs.

Zaragoza drives by Mendoza’s house. The officer is never seen passing in front of the house as

he stays behind.

Conclusion

Our forefathers drafted and ratified our first ten amendments in 1787. Since then, 17

Amendments have been ratified with the last one being passed in late 1992. As Americans, we

need to be “caught” up and know our rights. Knowing our rights will prevent unlawful arrest as

with Turner. Public servants should be trained on our rights also and how to approach, execute

and deal with any concerns regarding our rights.


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Reference

Philip Turner v. Lieutenant Driver; Officer Grinalds; Officer Dyess (United States Court

of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit February 16, 2017).