Bill Frezza revives the Gibson Guitars case in a piece published in Forbes. The whole affair stands as an appalling example of the law run amok. The owners believe they suffered heavy-handed treatment from the feds due to the “protectionist” interests of labor unions and environmentalists. But when the law can be warped to satisfy the whim of any bureaucrat or power-holder, that’s not protectionism, that’s tyranny. More specifically, the Gibson Guitars case epitomizes the tyranny of non-objective law.
While 30 men in SWAT attire dispatched from Homeland Security and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cart away about half a million dollars of wood and guitars, seven armed agents interrogate an employee without benefit of a lawyer. The next day Juszkiewicz receives a letter warning that he cannot touch any guitar left in the plant, under threat of being charged with a separate federal offense for each “violation,” punishable by a jail term.
Up until that point Gibson had not received so much as a postcard telling the company it might be doing something wrong. Thus began a five-year saga, extensively covered by the press, with reputation-destroying leaks and shady allegations that Gibson was illegally importing wood from endangered tree species. In the end, formal charges were never filed, but the disruption to Gibson’s business and the mounting legal fees and threat of imprisonment induced Juszkiewicz to settle for $250,000—with an additional $50,000 “donation” piled on to pay off an environmental activist group.
You can read the rest here.