Ilana Lipsen had her Alpine, Texas store raided by local and federal authorities. They were looking for illegal drug evidence, according to Think Progress.
Lipsen told reporters that Drug Enforcement Administration agents on scene violently kicked and threw her sister, Arielle, to the ground. Arielle had been charged with assaulting federal agents. Prosecutors claim that Arielle was never beaten.
Even before the case went to trial, a judge told Lipsen that if she wanted to be released from jail she needed to recant her statements to the media and issue an apology.
“It looks like the judge is stepping in to side with the prosecutor, undermine her right to trial, and place a massive thumb on the scale,” said Eric Miller, a law professor at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.
Miller also noted that the requirement looks to be an unconstitutional condition for release.
Lipsen’s store, the Purple Zone, is described by Lipsen as selling “electronic cigarettes, accessories for electronic cigarettes, eJuice, novelties, organic body lotion, pipes, tobacco products, and we’re also a hookah lounge.”
She was charged with the receipt of ammunition as an indictment was pending and was put into prison until her hearing for bond.
The hearing took place on May 16 in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Dwight Goains. Goains signed the bond order that includes a handwritten addendum telling Lipsen that she must “provide a letter of apology to both local newspapers in Alpine, TX, advising DEA had a legitimate reason to execute a warrant at her business.”
The handwritten addendum continues with the following:
She “will advise media … that her sister Arielle Lipsen was not beaten by agents carrying/using a M16 rifle, and her sister instigated/assaulted agents.” Lipsen has agreed to write the letter so she can be freed from prison.
Miller said, “She surely has free speech rights to complain about the government. Two, this has to undermine either her or her sister’s ability to negotiate a plea or enter certain types of defenses at trial, so she’s now being forced to be a witness against her sister if not against herself, which one would think … may undermine that Fifth Amendment right.”