Angry wife prosecuted under international chemical weapons ban for coating doorknob with common chemicals

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(NaturalNews) The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government exceeded its authority when it used an international chemical weapons treaty as the means to prosecute a rejected wife who sought revenge on her husband's lover.

Carol Anne Bond, a microbiologist who was unable to have children, was prosecuted under an international chemical weapons treaty after discovering that her husband was the father of a child born to Myrlinda Haynes, then her best friend, The Washington Post and Courthouse News reported. She sought revenge in a number of ways -- first through harassing phone calls and letters, and then by repeatedly spreading a combination of chemicals, including potassium dichromate purchased from Amazon and 10-chloro-10-H-phenoxarsine taken from her employer, on Hayne's home doorknob, car door handles and mailbox.

The ruling noted that Haynes often noticed the chemicals and avoided them, but on one occasion she burned her thumb. At that point, she filed a complaint with police, who told her to clean her car and door handles regularly, as the substance might be cocaine. But that advice frustrated her, so she turned to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which put up surveillance cameras.

'Uh, no'

Bond was later caught opening Haynes' mailbox and stealing a business envelope, while placing potassium dichromate -- which is most commonly used as an oxidizing agent in various laboratory and industrial applications -- in the muffler of Haynes' car. Additionally, inspectors found that nearly 4 pounds of the chemical were missing from where Bond worked.

Bond later pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing and using a chemical weapon, and two counts of mail theft. She was sentenced to six years in prison and a $2,000 fine, and was ordered to pay nearly $10,000 in restitution. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court refused a challenge by Bond regarding the chemical weapons charge, which she claimed was passed by Congress in violation of the 10th Amendment, claiming that constitutional principles of federalism prevented federal prosecution of "localized" crimes.

Noting that the state was not a party to the federal criminal proceeding, the appeals panel, which is based in Philadelphia, further found that Bond did not have standing to challenge the statute.

But the Supreme Court disagreed and ordered the 3rd Circuit to address the merits of her challenge in remanding the case.

In writing for the unanimous court, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that Bond had met the prerequisites for Article III standing because her conviction and sentence "satisfies the case-or-controversy requirement, because the incarceration... constitutes a concrete injury, caused by the conviction and redressable by invalidation of the conviction." He added that Bond was not trying to assert the legal rights and the interests of the state.

'No chemical weapons were deployed'

In November 2013, the case made it back to the Supreme Court, where government prosecutors argued that Bond's actions were in violation of federal law that sought implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, a treaty to which the U.S. is a signatory and which states that it is a crime to "receive, stockpile, retain, own, possess, use, or threaten to use" a chemical weapon.

Bond's attorneys argued that the application of the law to their client was an unconstitutional act because it required a vastly expanded reading of congressional power. In another unanimous ruling, the high court said that the sanctity of treaties cannot on all occasions supplant local police powers.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that no one "in natural parlance would describe Bond's feud-driven act of spreading irritating chemicals on Hayne's door [knob] and mailbox as 'combat.' Nor do the other circumstances of Bond's offense -- an act of revenge born of romantic jealousy, meant to cause discomfort, that produced nothing more than a minor thumb burn -- suggest that a chemical weapon was deployed in Norristown, Pennsylvania."

In order for federal courts to side with prosecutors, Roberts said, the government "would have us brush aside the ordinary meaning and adopt a reading of Section 229 [of the treaty] that would sweep in everything from the detergent under the kitchen sink to the stain remover in the laundry room."

Sources: [PDF]

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