The trial lasted two days and the jurors finished deliberating in a little over an hour. They were smiling as they walked into the courtroom. The foreperson handed the verdict to Judge Rigsby and he, too, smiled as he read: "To the charge of unlawful conduct on capitol grounds we find the defendant NOT GUILTY!
By the end of the trial I don't think one person in that courtroom wanted a conviction. Even the prosecuting attorney gave a half-hearted closing argument. My attorney, Mark Loudon-Brown, did a FABULOUS job. His passionate closing made Leslie cry. He's in the Graduate Fellowship Program of Georgetown Law and this was his first jury trial. He was supervised by the "legendary" DC defense lawyer, John Copacino. It was a privilege to work with them both. Mark's colleagues attended the trial to give him moral support. After the trial both John and Mark had an opportunity to talk with the jurors and they congratulated him on how well he presented his case. So did the judge ...
Judge Rigsby is currently a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army Reserves and also serves as a judge on JAG (Judge Advocate General's Corps). He has been in the armed forces for 28 years. He baited Mark with the issue of recusal, but Mark knew the judge wouldn't disqualify himself, so he didn't bite. Protesters and lawyers alike shudder when they hear they've been assigned to Rigsby's court. Luckily for me, however, he's from California and we got along amazingly well. I'm guessing he was relieved by the verdict, because he knew I wasn't willing to accept probation or a fine if I was found guilty, so he would have been forced to give me jail time. Judges assign probation and fines to protesters without a second thought and I wanted to get at least that ...
Two video segments were shown to the jury. The first, a YouTube that's been posted before: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBujJVKrzCY and the second a C-SPAN clip. These were shown by the prosecuting attorney. Yup, there I was shouting, "Shame on you Senator, shame on you! I'm from California ...", but the jury understood I wasn't trying to disrupt the hearing; I just wanted to let Senator Feinstein know she was not representing me with her Mukasey vote. I was happy with my testimony. Leslie was there as a second witness if I needed her, but I didn't. At one point Mark asked me,"Mr. Richardson, why did you speak out that day?" I answered," Because I don't want our children growing up in a country that condones torture."
Meanwhile, three other courtrooms were processing protesters and a few blocks away Desiree and a CodePink contingency were letting Condoleezza Rice know how they felt about her bloody hands: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/13/world/americas/13rice.html?_r=1&scp=27&sq=thursday%2C+march+13%2C+2008&st=nyt&oref=slogin
I have a question for Ethan Levisohn, the prosecuting attorney: You chose to pursue this case. Do you think you made a wise decision? Taxpayers paid for a two day trial ... a judge, a courtroom reporter, two assistants for the judge, a court appointed attorney, you and your assistant, and two officers waiting to testify. Fifty-two lives were interrupted for jury selection ... fourteen stayed. Maybe next time you'll remember it's THE PEOPLE who pay your salary and we're not as willing to give up our first amendment rights as you might think we are.
Peace and Freedom,
Jes & Leslie
Six Signs the US May Be Headed for War in Iran
It's the "Oh Shit!" Moment on Iran
Esquire article: The Man Between War and Peace"
CodePink's Restore the Constitution Day on March 18
RESIST in March
Jes & Leslie ... A Journey for Peace and Freedom: http://www.jfpf.org/
If you would like to be added to The Gandhi Peace Brigade Group List,
please let me know: email@example.com Thank you. Jes