The following is a history timeline of our lawsuit of 3 Mules v. California Highway Patrol (CHP) from point of arrest to present date and will be kept up to date to inform all those interested in the progress of this case. Click on the date to read further details.
1/23/20 Arrested & Jailed: CHP Templeton arrested the Monk and took him to San Luis Obispo County Jail; Little Girl and Little Ethel were taken to SLO County Animail Shelter; all belongings were impounded and taken to the CHP Templeton office.
2/1/20 Charges not filed: San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow declined to file criminal complaint “in the interest of justice.”
3/18/20 Public Records Request: CHP Templeton received Public Records request from the Mules. Cost $110.
7/27/20Government Claim Form: The Mules hand delivered State of CA Government Claim form to the Office of Risk and Insurance Management in Sacramento. Cost $25. Read about our purpose of filing the claim here.
1/21/21 Lawsuit Filed: Attorney Todd T. Cardiff filed lawsuit/complaint at San Luis Obispo County Superior Court against CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray and CHP Templeton Officer Agredano.
CHP dash cam shot of 3 Mules walking along Naciemento Lake Road prior to their arrest on January 23, 2020.
San Luis Obispo, CA: On January 21, 2021, John Sears, who lives a nomadic lifestyle and has traveled the state of California with his mules for the past eight years, filed a lawsuit in San Luis Obispo Superior Court alleging that the California Highway Patrol wrongfully and illegally arrested him in violation of his natural, Constitutional and statutory rights.
As noted in the first paragraph of the complaint: “By this action John Sears seeks to protect this ages-old nomadic way of life and the sacred relationship between man and horse to travel together with reverence and respect for this beautiful place in which we all reside called Earth.”
Sears, 73, and his mules began traveling when he was 36. He has lived full-time outside and traveled with his mules after retiring from his work as a tree trimmer in 2001 at age 54. He documents their endless journey on his website 3Mules.com, 3 Mules Facebook and Instagram pages, which have over 60,000 followers worldwide.
On January 23, 2020, the Mules were walking along Nacimiento Lake Drive, a rural two-lane country road near Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County. Such route is the only route between Bradley, California and Paso Robles other than Highway 101, and is part of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, a historically designated trail that stretches 1200 miles from Nogales, Mexico, through the California desert and coastal areas in Southern California and the Central Coast region, to San Francisco.
Despite the Mules right to travel such road, and all public thoroughfares in California, excluding interstate highways, he was ordered by CHP officer David Agredano to “stay off the road.” Such order was not only impossible to safely comply with, it was in violation of Sears’ rights under the U.S. and California Constitution.
Sears states: “Nowhere in the California vehicle code does it state that the public thoroughfare is for the exclusive use of the high speed heavy machine called an automobile.”
The California Vehicle Codes and Food and Agricultural Codes provide all non-motorized travel equal access to the public thoroughfare. (Veh. Code § 21050, See also, Food and Ag Code § 16902, 16903.
Sears notes: “The Mules were not creating a safety hazard. The Mules were legally using the public thoroughfare in conformity with the state vehicle code. The motorist has one of two options: 1) obey the state vehicle code, slow down, and stop if necessary, when approaching livestock, or 2) disobey the state vehicle code, refuse to slow down, recklessly pass with no concern for the consequences, and call 911 to complain that there is a person walking with horses on the road.”
Along substantial stretches, Nacimiento Lake Drive is hemmed with steep banks on both sides of the road. It has narrow to non-existent shoulders in many areas as the CHP dash cam video clearly shows. The non-paved area directly adjacent to the road was a steep upward bank, which would be difficult to impossible for a pack mule to navigate.
“The Mules were walking as close to the steep bank as we could to provide the motorists that were obeying state vehicle codes to safely pass.”
Sears further notes: “If this arrest was legal, then all U.S. citizens traveling under their own non-motorized power (equestrians, pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair, and all others) is likewise illegal. This nomadic lifestyle which the Mules practice, which is over hundreds of thousands of years old, is how the Mules live on this earth. The Mules are bringing this case to court to preserve the right for all equestrians, pedestrians, and cyclists to travel on these public thoroughfares without fear of arrest.”
Sears filed a complaint alleging violation of his civil rights under Federal and California law, false arrest, and declaratory and injunctive relief. In addition, to his damages, he seeks a declaration of his rights that he can present to law enforcement in the future, and for the CHP to issue a training bulletin informing officers of the right for equines and other animals to use the public thoroughfare.
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People often ask the Mules what their mission is. “Our purpose is to walk and live peacefully taking only what we need. Seeking balance and harmony with all that surrounds us and bringing the energy and value of this ages old way of life to all of those who we pass.”
“Spiritually, we are all unique. The Mules are experiencing the sacredness of this place in our own unique way. We are not doing anything spectacular. We get up in the morning, fix something to eat, and walk all day long. We enjoy it. Just walking. We enjoy the sacred act of walking in harmony and balance with the energy of this beautiful Earth that flows in, around and through us.”
“The public thoroughfare has been designed for the high speed motorists and their automobiles,” Sears explained. “The Mules and those who travel under their own power and speed (equestrians, cyclists, hikers) must preserve the right to use these same public thoroughfares as there is no adequate trail system to get equestrians and non-motorized travelers from one community to the next in this state.”
Sears has hand delivered copies of his Declaration of Emergency to over 200 city halls in California as well as to the governor’s office at the California State Capitol. In the declaration, he says the Natural World is being destroyed by a sprawling Megatropolis. Sears describes the Megatropolis as “the man-made world, spreading sprawling concrete, putting up lanes, putting up buildings everywhere. It wants all the remaining open space and it is unrelenting. It doesn’t want any other venues (pedestrians, cyclists, equestrians) to use the public thoroughfare except for its most favorite tool, the automobile.”
For further press inquiries or interviews, contact Attorney Todd T. Cardiff Office (619) 546-5123 or Cell (619) 885-1443 – www.tcardifflaw.com
The Mules would like to thank Mr. Ilan Funke-Bilu for representing the Mules and the support and energy received this past week from the Nation the Three Mules Nation. San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s office will be declining to file a criminal complaint against the Mules, so our court appearance on March 23, 2020 will be unnecessary. Therefore, we are able to continue on our journey following the former Butterfield Overland Mail Stagecoach route east to Kern County. Message received yesterday from our attorney Mr. Funke-Bilu:
I am pleased to announce that District Attorney Dan Dow has advised me today, February 1, 2020, that the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office will be declining to file a criminal complaint against my client, Mule, “in the interest of justice.” Mr. Dow is to be applauded for doing the right thing and doing the right thing swiftly. Mule was traveling across America as he has done for many years, bothering no one, minding his own business. America’s roads are designed for its citizens, its cars, its horses, its mules, its pedestrians, its travelers. Let’s share our roads and be mindful that some of us move a little slower on them. Mule teaches us that life is not a sprint, but a marathon.
Wednesday, January 22, 2020, after walking 15.3 miles from Pleyto and past Lake Nacimiento, we stopped here along G14 to spend the night. We have walked this scenic back road route repeatedly in past years.
On Thursday morning, I awoke, fixed breakfast and packed up the mules. We got back onto G14 heading towards Paso Robles and walked approximately three hours when a California Highway Patrol (CHP) cruiser pulled up along side us. He said he had been getting calls that we were walking on the road. He asked me to do him a favor and not walk on the road. My reply was that the Mules have the right to walk on the road. We are not breaking any laws and we will continue to do so for the simple reason that we have the right to. There was no alternative side road or trail along G14 to walk to Paso Robles. At that point he left.
We continued walking 10-15 minutes when the CHP officer returned with another CHP officer in another cruiser. He stopped in front of us, got out of his cruiser and told us that we could not walk on the road. We reasserted our right to walk on the road.
It was obvious if you looked at the road there was no where else to walk. we were walking as far to the edge as possible. Little Girl who I was leading was walking right abreast of me and Little Ethel was abreast of Little Girl. Little Ethel was the one furthest in the road. There was plenty of room for a passing motorist, slowing his or her automobile (which is required by California law when approaching other legal users – cyclists, equestrians, pedestrians – of the public thoroughfare) to an appropriate speed to safely pass. Motorists on G14 were doing so, slowing down and passing safely with no problem.
The officer continued to assert that we could not walk on the road. We continued to assert we had the right to walk on the road and that we could not sprout wings to go anywhere else as we were landlocked and there was no alternative way to walk out of where we were standing. We went back and forth like that for a good period of time. Officer trying to convince us that we had no right to walk on the road which was ludicrous.
The California Driver’s Handbook clearly states that equestrians have the right to use the public thoroughfare.
Horse-drawn vehicles and riders of horses or other animals are entitled to share the road with motor vehicles. It is a traffic offense to scare horses or stampede livestock. Slow down or stop, if necessary, or when requested to do so by the riders or herders.
Side note: On August 31, 2013 in Morgan Hill California we had a similar encounter where the Mules were stopped by California Highway Patrol and told to get off the road or be arrested. (Details here.) We had no place to get off the road where we were without walking on the road (because we don’t have wings). We were arrested and mules impounded for “Code 2800(a) VC – Disobey Peace Officer – Lawful Order“.
Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Jerome Nadler dismissed the case based on the arrest being invalid. Citation was for “disobeying the lawful order of a peace officer” when the Mules refused to leave the highway. Judge Nadler determined that the Mules had a legal right to be on the highway and therefore was not disobeying an officer since the Mules were abiding by the law. Below is video taken by documentary film maker John McDonald interviewing Judge Nadler about our case.
“I’m Jerry Nadler, I’m a superior court judge for Santa Clara County. On September 5, 2013 I was handling what’s called the arraignment calendar in the South County Courthouse of Santa Clara County in Morgan Hill and he was on my arraignment court calendar and in custody. He was charged with a vehicle code violation of failing to follow the orders of a peace officer.
Well here’s a guy that is simply proceeding down the side of the road lawfully with his mules and people are simply distracted because they haven’t seen mules in a long time. Unfortunately the system doesn’t work really well with really unique individuals or types of cases. And perhaps Mr. Sears is that sort of unique case where he’s charged with an offense that it appears that he had better insights about than the officer.
You know the officer is really concerned about protecting the highway, especially on a holiday weekend. But the officer still has to be aware of what the law is with regard to it as well. And again in this case it is sort of a unique case. I’m sure it’s the first mule case the officer has ever run into. But again, the officer is obligated to know what the law is. And, if the law allows for a pedestrian and his animals to be on the highway, then he’s got to perhaps make some other decisions. But I can certainly understand why the officer acted the way he did.”
Jerry Nadler, Superior Court Judge for Santa Clara County
We bantered back and forth for a good period of time when the officer finally said if I come back again you will be arrested and your animals will be impounded. He then left with his fellow officer.
Well now what were we to do? There was no side roads to take off on. There was nothing but G14. There was no cell phone service for us to call or post for trailer assistance. The officer offered no alternative means for which we could safely proceed to our destination of Paso Robles. We had no choice but to stand there on the side of the road for hell to freeze over or to continue to walk to Paso Robles on G14. So we had to do just that, because again, the mules and myself do not have wings.
After walking 10 minutes further down the road, the officer was stationed with his partner on a side road to our left. I do not know the name of this side road or if it was an alternative road to get to Paso Robles. The officer got out of his cruiser, approached me, stepped in front of me and said I was under arrest. He then took the lead rope from my hand and handed the lead rope to the other officer who took Little Girl and Little Ethel to the other side of the road and told me I was under arrest. He asked me to put my hand behind my back, which I did. Then he hand cuffed me, took me to his cruiser, opened the door, and asked me to get inside, which I did. I offered absolutely no resistance.
We have now been charged with obstruction. We were not charged for walking on the highway because we had every right to be walking on the highway. We have been charged with obstruction resisting arrest. I did not resist arrest. Little Girl and Little Ethel were taken to San Luis Obispo Animal Services, while I was taken to San Luis Obispo County Jail where I was booked around 3pm and charged with resisting arrest under California Penal Code Section 148(a) PC, a broadly defined criminal offense that makes it illegal to intentionally resist, delay or obstruct a law enforcement officer.
If the CHP officer was able to contact animal services to bring a trailer to transport the mules and myself to San Luis Obispo 40 miles away, why couldn’t they make a decision to “provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security” and escort or order trailer to transport the Mules to Paso Robles our destination at the end of G14 about 5-10 miles away?
Side note: On New Year’s Day January 1, 2020, we had a similar encounter with San Benito County CHP (documented here) under much the same circumstance. However, San Benito County CHP gave up on telling us we couldn’t walk on the highway as they knew that we had the right to walk on that road as documented in the San Benito County General Transportation Plan. Instead, the officer relented on his assertion that we could not walk on the highway and offered us a solution that we could continue to walk along the shoulder of the road (which we were already doing) and they would escort us from behind to our destination San Juan Bautista. But at that moment, a local resident who followed our 3 Mules Facebook page stopped and told us that we had an alternative back road to walk to San Juan Bautista, which we took and no longer required a CHP escort. CHP did not tell us about this alternative route 100 yards away.
During booking, they took away my sandals that I was wearing so I was barefoot on the cold floor in jail wearing only a t-shirt and thin pants. Jails like to keep the temperature inside very cold. Don’t understand why my shoes were taken away. Did not have to share a cell with anybody. I paced from the time I entered the cell well into the next morning. Must have walked about 20 miles building the spiritual energy I knew that would be harbored and used to deal with our ongoing challenges of our upcoming court case and our use of the public thoroughfare.
I was released from jail without paying any bail with a court date to appear March 23, 2020 at 8AM in San Luis Obispo Superior Courthouse Annex Room 220, 1050 Monterey St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93408 .
After I was released from San Luis Obispo County Jail, I walked over to Animal Services next door where Little Girl and Little Ethel were housed. The cost for release is $266. We posted a GoFundMe to help pay for the cost for release and within minutes of posting reached the limit quicker than we could turn off the fundraiser to stop raising funds. A total of $500 was raised. The Mules are humbled by the response from those who donated quickly and generously to our request. Thank you very much. A detailed accounting with receipts on how this money was spent will be posted on this website.
While at the animal shelter, we had another dilemma. The mules were in San Luis Obispo, but our gear and belongings were at the CHP office in Templeton, 31-miles away. So we posted on our 3 Mules Facebook page asking if anybody could transport the three of us from San Luis Obispo to Templeton before CHP closed for the day.
The Nation, the Three Mules Nation, shared our request for trailer assistance. As well, Animal Control Supervisor Patrick was reaching out to his contacts to help find a trailer ride to reunite us with our belongings. He was able to find a group that could help but they couldn’t arrive until after 4pm, which risked us not getting to the CHP office 31 miles away before its closing for the weekend. The Mules want to recognize San Luis Obispo County Animal Shelter Supervisor Patrick and his staff for taking care of Little Girl and Little Ethel and trying to help us find a trailer ride to our belongings.
We received a private message from Jennifer who said she could assist and bring us to Templeton, which she did. While waiting for trailer ride, we met Jim who stopped by the animal shelter to offer his assistance as well. He lives near the CHP office and offered us to rest the night on his property so we could re-gather ourselves which we accepted.
Jennifer arrived at San Luis Obispo animal shelter with her trailer and drove us to CHP office in Templeton so that we cold pick up our pack boxes and other belongings.
We arrived at CHP Templeton in the afternoon to pick up our belongs. While there we had a conversation with CHP Lieutenant Coomer, who provided us a map outline every CHP Area boundary in the state and a document listing the contact telephone number for every CHP Communication Center and Area Office in the state. He said it might help if we the Mules called these area offices ahead of time and let them know we will be traveling through their area so that when the dispatchers get calls from the public, the dispatchers will know to be expecting it.
While we appreciate Lt. Coomer providing us this information, we live in the United States of America. “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” is a well-know phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. The phrase gives three examples of “unalienable rights” which the Declaration says have been given to all humans by their creator, and which governments are created to protect. Freedom of movement (travel) was also thought to be a fundamental right of all U.S. citizens during the drafting of the U.S. Constitution as not needing explicit enumeration. Lt. Coomer’s suggestion for us or any U.S. citizen to call law enforcement in every place we walk in California is requiring U.S. citizens to ask for permission to travel within California, which is against our unalienable rights and against state law.
If a concerned citizen calls dispatch and an officer comes out to investigate, the officer should know the California codes that we are allowed to walk where we are. The officer should communicate with dispatch and other law enforcement in the area of the situation, whether it be equestrian travelers, pedestrians, cyclists or people in wheel chairs.
In the California Driver Handbook, cyclists and equestrians have the right to take the lane if there is not sufficient shoulder on a road to ride or walk. Motorists must slow down or stop until they can safely pass leaving 3 feet for safety or until the cyclists, equestrian, or pedestrian has sufficient shoulder room to move aside.
The Mules were not breaking any laws walking on G14 as we were not cited for obstructing traffic because we were not. Traffic was simply required by law to slow and pass at a safe speed. We were cited for resisting arrest for disobeying a lawful order which was obviously not a lawful order. The officer wanted us to get off the road when we had no physical way to get out of the location where we were at (because we don’t have wings) without walking out of the location. We did not have phone service in the area to make any phone calls or post to the Nation, the Three Mules Nation, for trailer assistance. Again, the officer did not provide us any solutions or alternatives on how we would continue our journey without use of the public thoroughfare.
When we arrived at CHP Templeton office, Marcia and her daughter Tisha were there waiting for our arrival. Marcia has been a supporter and follower on 3 Mules Facebook page since June 16, 2014. We always enjoy when we get to connect a name we see regularly on our page via comments to a live person.
The Mules will continue to post more about this case as it evolves and progresses up to our March 23, 2020 arraignment in San Luis Obispo. Our next step is to obtain a copy of the CHP police report. The Mules feel that we were wrongly arrested because we had the right to walk on public thoroughfare G14. We feel that this citation and case should be dismissed immediately and that we should be reimbursed $266 of the mules impoundment fee.
The Mules are seeking a pro-bono attorney willing to represent us. Court Date scheduled for 3/23/2020 at 8 AM in San Luis Obispo Court Annex Room 220, 1050 Monterey Street, San Luis Obispo, CA. If interested, please message us with your contact information.
We are as safe as anybody could be under those circumstances. It’s not our fault that the state of California is allowing these automobiles to move at these horrendous speeds. These speeds are killing people, maiming people, it goes on all day every day. The insurance rates are outrageous and very well understand the chances are that when you get into these automobiles with your children, your families, you’re going to turn into a bucket of blood. It happens every day, all day. These automobiles are not safe.
The Mules move at 2-3 miles per hour. We’re not going to hurt anybody. We never have. We don’t deal out death and destruction as we go along. The automobile does. We are not going to give up our right to move freely in this country.
These public thoroughfares are all that is left. There is no other mechanism to express your right to freedom to move that body of yours from one place to the next when you choose how you choose. When that’s gone, that’s the bone of freedom you don’t have any freedom.
We are not going to give it up. Our way of life depends on moving, living with our surroundings, the trees, the grass, the brush, the insects, the animals, with a meaningful relationship, reacting to these forces all day long with our feet on the ground surrounded by that energy. We have to have the right to do that using the public thoroughfare.
We’re not going to give up that right. When the Megatropolis tries to disguise its real purpose using safety as the mechanism, it’s real purpose is to remove all other venues other than the automobile from the public right of way. It’s to get rid of us, there is no question about it.
March 23, 2020 is a long time away to wait in San Luis Obispo for our arraignment.
Six years ago, on May 29, 2014, the Mules were cited in San Luis Obispo for sleeping outside, which we have slept outside for over half our life. Sleeping is another human necessity to eating and breathing. No life can stay awake and keep moving 24/7/365. Our citation for that case was dismissed on January 15, 2015. Read more about that San Luis Obispo case here.
At the time, a San Luis Obispo newspaper published an editorial that the Mules were a public nuisance, which we strongly disagree. We are one human being traveling with his or her animal companions living a nomadic life outside all day every day as our ancestors have done for hundreds of thousands of years with respect and reverence for this place we call home – Earth.
UPDATE: Attorney Candice Fields of Candice Fields Law, who assists the Mules and the Three Mules Nation, sent us an update in regards to our I-5 case: The San Diego District Attorney decided not to file criminal charges against the Mules for Penal Code Section 148(a) Obstruction, which means there will be no case at all, and therefore no hearing on Friday, April 6, 2018.
The District Attorney said that they did not make this decision because they felt the law, as written, would not support a conviction. They made their decision because they were concerned about jury nullification. They felt their case was not winnable with a jury who might ignore the law and find the Mules not guilty.
For those not familiar with this area, United States Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is located on the Southern California coast in San Diego County spanning over 125,000 acres, bordered by the city of Oceanside to the south and Orange county to the north. For an 8-mile section where Interstate 5 (I-5) goes through Camp Pendleton, the Old Pacific Coast Trail for non-motorized use discontinues. The only way for non-motorized travelers to pass through this section of the California coast without walking on the side of the interstate is to enter through Pendleton’s Main Gate near Oceanside and walk 8.3 miles through the base to get to the Las Pulgas Gate, where the Old Pacific Highway Trail begins again to get to San Clemente. One cannot walk along 17-miles of the sandy beaches on the coastline that parallels I-5 as this also is part of the base. The Mules have taken the Pendleton Main Gate-Las Pulgas Gate (and vice versa) route three times in the past four years with military escort without any issues.
Arriving at the Main Gate guard shack, I secured Little Girl and went into the guard shack requesting passage through the base to the Las Pulgas Gate so that we could continue our journey onto the Old Pacific Highway Trail to San Clemente. The guard said to wait while he checked with the PMO. We waited outside for about half an hour. The guard came back and said we would not be allowed to go through the base. I told the guard we had passed through there three times previous with a military police escort. He said he was sorry but the PMO said we could not pass and we would have to leave immediately. So we did.
Upon getting off the base, I phoned California Highway Patrol (CHP) in Oceanside and spoke to the CHP watch commander informing him that I would be walking north on I-5 from Oceanside because I was refused entry into Camp Pendleton and there was no other alternative route other than I-5. The watch commander told me that I would not be allowed on I-5. We said, when there is no alternative route, we have the right to use the only one route that is available, and that by default is I-5. He repeated his statement that we were not allowed on I-5. I responded we will be walking on I-5. The watch commander said, “Use your best judgement.”
We then headed for I-5 and got on it. The shoulder was wide with other bicycles on it.
After walking about 1.5 miles, a CHP officer on a motorcycle came towards us and stopped. He informed us that we could go no further and that we would have to turn around and get off the freeway. We said we had the right to be here because there was no other way to travel north to San Clemente other than I-5. He repeated his assertion that we must turn around and get off. I said I would not. He said if we didn’t I would be arrested and Little Girl would be impounded. So, that’s what happened.
I was taken to Vista Detention Facility. Little Girl was picked up by animal control and taken to the animal shelter. I was in jail for about 5 hours, charged with Penal Code 148(A) obstruction failing to obey a police officer, given a court date, then released.
I was told by the jail that my property was being held at the CHP. I called CHP from the jail lobby and was told by the lady who answered the phone that the property officer was out for the day and would not be back until Monday morning. If I wanted to get my property, I would need to make an appointment to talk to the property officer on Monday. I told the lady over the phone that I needed my cell phone and my wallet and various items that were in my backpack and I could not wait until Monday. She said she was sorry, but the property officer was out for the day and he would not be back until Monday.
I decided that I would go to the CHP office across the street from the jail and see what I could do. Upon entering the office, a uniformed officer was in the room. He asked me what it was he could do for me. I told him that I was informed that my property was here. He said hold on, I’ll see what I can do. About 10 minutes later, he came back and told me that my property was not in their possession and that it was at the Palomar Airport Road Animal Shelter. He gave me a number and an address. I asked him if he could call them and make sure that was where my property was and that they had possession of it. He got on the phone, made the call, and apparently talked to somebody there who gave him confirmation that yes indeed they had my property.
The CHP officer would not allow me to use there phone, so I walked back to the jail and called the number myself to confirm the information given to me by the CHP officer but I could not get through.
I returned to the CHP office, and informed the officer that I called the number he gave me and was not able to reach anybody there. I inquired why he was able to get through and I was not. He said he didn’t know, but he assured me that he had spoken to the Palomar Airport Road animal shelter and that was where my property was.
From there I started walking at approximately 4pm, I left the CHP office in Vista and started walking to animal shelter in Carlsbad. I walked until about 9:00 pm, found some bushes to take shelter, stayed through the night, awoke in the morning about 6AM, and continued my way to the Palomar Airport Animal Shelter. Upon arriving there around Saturday morning 8:30am, I talked to a lady that was walking a dog if they had a mule on the premises. She said I could go around in the back where they keep the large animals and take a look. There were no large animals there. I asked her if my property was in their possession. She went inside to find out, returned and stated clearly that it was not in their possession. So I asked her where would it be? She said Escondido Humane Society takes large animals. It was her best guess that was where my mule and property would be.
I got on the phone, made some calls and confirmed that Little Girl was 16-miles away at the Humane Society shelter in Escondido. I spent the rest of Saturday walking and riding the bus to get to the Escondido Animal Shelter to retake possession of Little Girl and my property. The Mules say thank you to L. Monreal, Carlie and the staff of folks at the San Diego Humane Society (Escondido) for taking such good care of Little Girl while the Monk was in jail.
I am not admitting guilt to the charge against me, but this is a truthful account pertaining to our arrest, charges brought of obstruction. and then our subsequent release for walking with Little Girl on Interstate 5.
We will be contacting California’s Department of Transportation CalTrans Chief in Sacramento and the CHP watch commander and once again informing that we need to walk on I-5 as there is no alternative route. The base is not an acceptable route, which requires waiting 4-5 days for permission to be granted. At which time if we are again refused and threatened with arrest by CHP, we will request CHP escort on I-5 where traffic can be slowed down to a safe level for our passage. We will not accept trailer transportation from a private party. We will be asserting our right and all equestrians’ rights for a safe means of moving on the public thoroughfare.
The Mules are also in search of an attorney who is interested in representing us pro bono at our San Diego County Superior Court date appearance on 4/6/2018 7:30am in Vista, CA (325 S. Melrose Dr.). If interested, contact the Mules via email at ThreeMuleJourney@gmail.com.
(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that it is the policy of the State of California that safe and convenient pedestrian travel and access, whether by foot, wheelchair, walker, or stroller, be provided to the residents of the state. (b) In accordance with the policy declared under subdivision (a), it is the intent of the Legislature that all levels of government in the state, particularly the Department of Transportation, work to provide convenient and safe passage for pedestrians on and across all streets and highways, increase levels of walking and pedestrian travel, and reduce pedestrian fatalities and injuries. (Added by Stats. 2000, Ch. 833, Sec. 6. Effective January 1, 2001.)
California Department of Transportation Manual Chapter Topic 105 – Pedestrian Facilities Topic 105 – Pedestrian Facilities 105.1 General Policy The California Vehicle Code Section 21949 has stated a policy for the Department to provide safe and convenient travel for pedestrians. Conventional highways can be used by pedestrians. Although the Department will work to provide safe and convenient pedestrian travel on these highways, not all of these highways will contain sidewalks and walkways. Connections between different modes of travel should be considered when designing highway facilities, as all people may become pedestrians when transferring to a transit based facility. Pedestrian use near transit facilities should be considered during the planning phase of transportation improvement projects. See DIB 82 for accessibility guidance of pedestrian facilities.
(b) All State highway projects administered by Caltrans or others with pedestrian facilities must be designed in accordance with the requirements in Design Information Bulletin 82, “Pedestrian Accessibility Guidelines for Highway Projects.”
U.S. Supreme Court ruling “The right of a citizen to travel upon the public highways and to transport his property thereon, by horse drawn carriage, wagon, or automobile, is not a mere privilege which may be permitted or prohibited at will, but a common right which he has under his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Under this constitutional guaranty one may, therefore, under normal conditions, travel at his inclination along the public highways or in public places, and while conducting himself in an orderly and decent manner, neither interfering with nor disturbing another’s rights, he will be protected, not only in his person, but in his safe conduct.”
On our way south, Little Girl and I stopped to visit Lady, who looks great and is being given the best of care along with her pasture mate Coco.
We waited here for ten days for a $300 6-hour life skills class in Fresno that we were required to attend by the Alameda County District Attorney for our arrest by the California Highway Patrol in Castro Valley.
Now Little Girl and myself will continue on our migratory journey south to the San Diego area.
Last year in February 2016, the Mules left Santa Barbara and went up and over the Los Padres mountain range when our bladder stone made itself known. From that date until now, we haven’t done much traveling due to the discomfort and pain caused by the stone.
February to April 2016 It took us 12 days to cross the Los Padres Mountains. We made our way over the mountain, dropped into the San Emigdio Canyon and wound up at the Wind Wolves Preserve where we stayed for a number of weeks as we tried to figure out this growing discomfort. We worked on clearing the overgrown trail and making rock cairns on the trail in upper San Emigdio Canyon to mark the way to Pine Mountain Club. [Watch our video that we created of our Trail Work at Wind Wolves Preserve]
May 2016 We were notified that oral arguments for our case, USA vs John Sears was scheduled before the U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals on May 2, 2016 in Pasadena. So, we packed up and left Wind Wolves and walked 17 days to Pasadena to appear at our oral arguments in person at the U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals. We lost our appeal but didn’t lose. The Energy acquired from the just effort put forth by 3 Mules and their pro bono lawyer Dan Kapelovitz will serve to the 3 Mule Nation and all who contribute to it in countless ways which cannot be foreseen. After our appeal, we then turned to migrate back north for the summer.
We traveled back over the Old Ridge Road, Lebec, Frazier Park, Pine Mountain Club, down San Emigdio Canyon to Wind Wolves Preserve where we rested a couple weeks to finish making the rock cairns in the upper canyon to mark the trail leading to Pine Mountain Club.
June 2016 Before it heated up too much in the Central Valley, we needed to continue our migratory journey north where temperatures are cooler. We made our way through Bakersfield, stopped a couple of days, then proceeded through Shafter, McFarland, Delano, Porterville, Exeter, Ivanhoe, Dinuba, Reedley, and Sanger, delivering the Declaration of Emergency (DOE) to their city halls.
July 2016 We stayed a couple weeks in Fresno to wait out an extreme heat wave where once again the Mules were guided by the free flowing energy that envelopes the Mules as they practice this ages old nomadic way of life, which to this day has outlasted every Megatropolis/Empire thats ever been going back hundreds of thousands if not millions of years. During our stay in Fresno, the discomfort and pain intensified and we saw a doctor who diagnosed us with an enlarged prostate and prescribed a treatment to help shrink the prostate.
When the heat wave finally lifted, we packed up our belongings and moved with the energy. We had a goal to find the ranch where Lady was born and where we purchased her over 30 years ago. We walked through Friant and O’Neil and we were magically guided to Sam’s Organic Tomato Farm outside of Coarsegold. We enjoyed the hospitality we found at Sam’s for two months as we were dealing with this constant discomfort which was preventing continuous days of walking. Making the walk to Oakhurst for groceries and back to Coarsegold would deplete our energy for days.
October 2016 In October, we needed to migrate south to warmer temps before cold hit the foothills of the Sierra. We were again brought to pack up our belongings, walked through Friant, Fresno, Selma, Kingsburg, Goshen, Tulare, Pixley, Delano, McFarland, Shafter, and Bakersfield, resting a couple days at Melinda and Eric’s stable, before winding back up at to Wind Wolves Preserve. From there we toyed with the possibility of continuing south to Pasadena to see the Rose Bowl Parade. We decided to give it a try.
December 2016 We went up through San Emigdio Canyon, got on top then went east to Frasier Park where we spent the night on the Public Thoroughfare (along the side of the highway), the right of anybody to do so when using said public thoroughfare to move from one place to the next when they choose how they choose.
Upon getting up that morning, I found Lady remaining down. We decided to tap the energy of the nation, the 3 Mule Nation, to materialize into what we needed. That energy brought forth very quickly people willing to give their energy to Lady the Mule, a true icon from the Natural World demonstrating in her most whimsical of ways the extreme value of that world, the Natural World.
After a short wait, we met Scott from the Granite Station. He offered to let Lady, Little Girl, myself stay at his ranch in Granite Station. So we did for two months and met Scott’s nice neighbors – Mario and his wife, and Bill across the street. The kids had a great time roaming the ranch, while I was trying to find a urologist in Bakersfield who would treat our prostate condition.
One day, the discomfort finally got to the point that we finally decided that we needed to go to Kern Medical Center Emergency Room, where we were treated by physician assistant Monica Sutter, who provided excellent service and listened as we described the discomfort and pain experienced for the past ten months. She referred us to a Kern Medical primary care doctor and a urologist, who we scheduled follow-up appointments.
February 2017 Since Granite Station was a two day walk from Bakersfield, we had to get closer to town to be closer to our doctor appointments. The distances that we were able to walk had become quite short due to the severe pain. So, Lady, Little Girl and myself headed to Bakersfield. While in Bakersfield, Lady herself was having difficulty related to age and knew it was finally time for Lady to retire; our friend Sharon has provided Lady a wonderful home and care.
March 2017 The energy of 3 Mules Nation brought us to Bakersfield Kern County and guided the Mules through and around Kern County Bakersfield until our year long medical adventure was culminated at Kern Medical Center where our urologist Dr. Vihn Trangdiagnosed us as having a bladder stone and created a treatment plan requiring outpatient surgery on March 16 to remove our golf-ball size bladder stone. While we were under anesthesia, he took a look at the prostate to determine if any further treatment was required, in which he determined that it was normal size and no further treatment required. Immediately after the surgery was over and the bladder stone removed, the discomfort and pain experienced for the past year went away.
The Mules would like to thank the doctors, nurses and all the hard-working folks giving their energy to making Kern Medical Center a good place to receive treatment. The Mules also want to once again thank the those who provide the Mules a place to stay as we were trying to resolve our medical issues. And we want to thank the people of the 3 Mule Nation for the kind words and well wishes that we received.
We are back on our feet and making our migratory journey north for the summer.
What happened last weekend in Lake Shasta (link to Los Angeles Times article) is when people are disconnected from nature and live separated from the Natural World.
Living our ages old, nomadic way of life for over three decades, we the Mules hold Mother Earth with very high value and respect. We leave no trace wherever we stop for the night.
The article states that “Rangers don’t want to ban the students because their visits stimulate the local economy.”
In May 2014, the Mules were sleeping at night and woken up by federal rangers. Monk was arrested and the mules were impounded because we refused to leave in the dark for our safety. The Rangers refused to let us wait until sunrise.
Even though one 68-year old monk and his three animal companions have high respect for Mother Earth all our lives and never have and will never do something as atrocious as these hundreds of adults at Lake Shasta, our ages old, nomadic way of life is not acceptable in the suburban model, so we are jailed, penalized and convicted for our way of life of living outside all day every day.
However, large groups of college students (who are also all adults and not kids) that descend to Lake Shasta each May is acceptable, because they fit the suburban model by stimulating the economy even though they have no respect for the Natural World and Mother Earth. Their penalty for their behavior is suspension from participating in university’s social activities.
The Mules are still waiting to hear from the 9th Circuit United States Court of Appeals in our appeal to clear our conviction.
Saturday, April 30, 2016, we left Griffith Park where we stayed for the night. While grazing the kids, we met Brian. He rode 12-miles with us on his really big horse to the United States Court of Appeals Ninth District courthouse in Pasadena.
Thank you Brian and friend for giving your hope faith energy to this most important case of one human being (all of us) traveling with his or her animal companions across this country and the absolute right to stop and rest (sleep for the night) on public space.
Synopsis: On May 9, 2014, the Mules were arrested by the National Park Service and issued three citations for camping outside of designated area, violating order of a government agent, and conditions concerning use of pack animals in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
On July 16, 2014, the Mules attended an arraignment at the United States District Court in Los Angeles and pleaded not guilty and a trial date was set for November 6, 2014.
At the trial on November 6, 2014, the Mules were charged with 1) not obeying an order of a federal employee; and 2) camping in an undesignated area on national park land, while the third charge related to the pack animals was dropped. If found guilty on these charges, the maximum penalty for this petty offense was term of six months imprisonment, $5000 maximum fine, $10 special assessment for misdemeanor conviction, $25 processing fee payable to the Central Violations Bureau, and five year probation period. The Mules pleaded not guilty and were found guilty on both charges with no imposed penalties or fines, but were assessed a $35 court fee.
May 2, 2016: Oral Arguments. The Mules attended Oral Arguments before a three-judge panel in the U.S. District Court of Appeals Ninth District in Pasadena. The defense for the Mules and the government prosecution each had 15 minutes to provide their argument in front of a three-panel judge. Click to watch U.S. Court of Appeal Ninth Circuit Oral Argument court video recording:9th Circuit Court of Appeals video recording United States of America v. John C Sears 5/2/2016.
On June 15, 2016, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the magistrate judge’s finding that the Mules were guilty of violating two National Park Service regulations.
Click to read ruling 9th District Decision 6/15/2016:
——————————————————————————————— Statement from the Mules in response to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision: On May 2, 2016, the Mules appeared at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena to hear our appeal before three judges brought forth by the Megatropolis to decide whether the Mules or anybody else, hiker, bicycle or somebody traveling in a wheelchair, in this continental United States has the right to use public space to stop and rest for the night.
The National Parks are without question public space. They belong to all of us and they must be open to all who seek use of them in ways which conform to the mission of bringing people into the Natural World with reverence and respect.
The Mules and the way of life they live are a stellar example of that mission. When the Megatropolis uses its courts and judges to deny the Mules that most necessary function of life (rest) on a National Park, its subverts the mission of the Natural Parks – bringing people and the Natural World together in a natural way as opposed to the Megatropolis way (man-made world way) arriving in an air-conditioned bus with all the comforts of home.
The Mules on this day, September 13, 2016, have declared themselves to be the official mascots of the Natural Park system. One human being wandering in one of all four directions with his or her animal companions with reverence and respect for this totally unique sparkling jewel in the universe – our home EARTH.
Hence, the Mules, in the process of performing their duty as the official mascots of the Natural Parks, will bring clarity, direction and purpose to administering the mission of the National Parks. Rather then continuing down the slippery slope of the commercialism which is destroying the National Parks.
3/2/2015 Reply Brief. Mule’s legal representative Daniel Kapelovitz has submitted the Reply Brief to the Government’s Answering Brief Outcome: The Judge stood by the initial ruling and rejected the appeal.