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Day Three of "Conspiracy" Frame-Up Hearing
Thursday March 15
701 Ocean St. Dept. 3 (But look for "Alex Darocy" and/or "Bradley Stuart Allen" on the court calendar to be sure)
Bradley Allen and Alex Darocy are the first two of 11 charged with felony vandalism, conspiracy to commit felony vandalism, and misdemeanor trespass to go to Preliminary Hearing.
This is the hearing at which a judge decides if the charges justify continuing with a formal indictment.
The two are journalists who covered the 75 River St. occupation last year.
More info at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/03/12/18709197.php .
The most striking bit of testimony so far is by one of the detectives who testified under penalty of perjury that he recommended former Mayor and current Councilwoman Katherine Beiers be prosecuted.
Naturally the D.A. has done no such thing, but targeted activists instead.
In an interview broadcast on my radio show (http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb120301.mp3 ) Beiers acknowledged she was in the 75 River St. building (as were scores of others, including reporters, broadcasters, community members, and the city manager).
Otherwise no evidence of any prior agreement between the two defendants to occupy or vandalize was even alleged. Nor was any evidence of the defendants doing any vandalizing presesnted. D.A. Rebecca Young simply claimed that they "trespassed" while reporting on a story.
Why this should amount to felony conspiracy to vandalize is still a mystery which perhaps she will further unveil today.
The two defendants called witnesses testifying to the legitimacy of their status as journalists, including former Mayor Mike Rotkin.
Today the hearing resumes before visiting Judge Stillman.
Stillman has called for the prosecution present its theory of the case and the defense to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence.
Judge Ariadne Symons has been removed from the case by one of the defendants--which affects all of the defendants. Judge Burdick of Dept. 6 is now hearing the cases (and may try to have them moved out of his court, as he has real crimes to deal with).
Neither Bradley nor Alex nor their lawyers have asked or authorized me to publicize and announce this continued hearing. Quite the opposite--I was asked to stay away.
Still I encourage people, particularly the defendants and their lawyers to come and watch this Dress Rehearsal for Repression.
It's important that this case be exposed to the public for what it is--expensive and vindictive selective prosecution targeting activists and journalists.
This is a clear attempt to intimidate Occupy Santa Cruz--the most serious in a string of attacks on constitutional rights involving "disappearing" charges, false arrests, unprecedented curfews, meshing off of public areas, and--now--the smearing of activists
The cost of these hearings and trials is slated to run to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not counting police costs. The damage reportedly done at the Wells Fargo Bank by those not associated with any of the defendants through graffiti is a fraction of this amount. And the amount of damage done by Wells Fargo Bank in its ongoing fraudulent foreclosures dwarfs by several orders of magnitude the damage that happened during the occupation.
That fraud and the lack of winter shelter and facilities for Santa Cruz's 1500-2000 homeless people was one of the reasons cited by occupiers for their peaceful 3-day occupation of the 3 1/2 year vacant bank.
Preliminary Hearings for Becky Johnson and Robert Norse begin 1:30 PM April 16 in Department 6.
Preliminary Hearings for the other 7 defendants begin 1:30 PM April 23 presumably in Department 6.
Added to the calendar on Thursday Mar 15th, 2012 3:42 AM
Judge Stillman in spite of the lack of evidence of any explicit prior agreement ("conspiracy") found both Bradley and Alex liable to stand trial for three charges: Felony Conspiracy to Commit Trespass, and two counts of Trespass.
This, even though the evidence presented by Prosecutor Rebecca Young showed only that the two were taking pictures in the building along with other journalists who haven't been charged, that no indication they were warned they were trespassing, and that there were no notices posted.
D.A. Rebeccah Young argued that the act of trespass itself indicated a form of conspiracy and premeditation since one could not trespass (in the bank situation) without being aware of whether this was illegalll Even if police didn't so inform, took no action, or public officials were also on the property engaging arguably in similar "protest"?
The decision does not convict the two journalists, but does force them into a long costly trial and bodes worse for those who follow.
I'll hopefully have some more helpful reflections once I've thought more about this and spoken with others.
Trail set for 3/29 8:15 Department 6.
Someone should double check this, but I think that 3-29 is the date when Alex and Bradley will be re-arraigned. The trial is later.
In my case and Becky's Judge Burdick suggested our trial could be pushed as far forward as November and since Alex and Bradley are in the same court, that may be their situation as well. In fact, I think all of the Santa Cruz Eleven are in the same court.
Becky and I go to preliminary hearings are on April 16 in Dept. 6.
For some encouraging news, check out http://occupiedmedia.us/2012/03/breaking-chase-5-not-guilty/
as well as http://occupiedoaktrib.org/2012/03/16/occupy-uc-davis-fought-the-bank-and-occupy-uc-davis-won/