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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: U.S. | Police State and Prisons
Seattle grand jury resisters released from prison
A federal judge has ordered the release of 2 alleged witnesses of the May Day protest in Seattle. His decided that prison would not serve to coerce testimony, and had become merely punitive. He also noted the government made no effort to rebut the extensive declarations of both "witnesses".
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(INDYRADIO 2-28-13) By the end of the day, 2 of the 3 grand jury resisters currently held in SeaTAC federal prison will be free. In an order entered Wednesday by Judge Richard Jones of the US District Court in Seattle, Katherine Olejnik and Matthew Duran are to be released by 4:00pm today. They've already been released from solitary confinement, along with Maddy Pfeiffer, the only one of 4 who will remains incarcerated.
On October 17, Leah Plante was released, though she also refused to give testimony to this grand jury convened to consider charges of vandalism during the May Day protests in Seattle this year. All 4 alleged witnesses claim they have no relevent testimony to provide, and have been grilled about their political and social contacts in a witch hunt beyond the scope of the grand jury's duty, which is to consider whether existing evidence is adequate to take the prosecuter's case to trial.
Judge Jones has found that after 5 months of prison, and considering the demeanor of the witnesses, continued confinement is unlikely to coerce testimony and has become punitive. He also notes the government rebuts none of the written declarations of the witnesses, and doesn't dispute the harsh and restrictive conditions of the solitary confinement they have endured for 7 weeks.
Although Olejnik and Duran will be released, they remain in contempt of court and face possible criminal charges, and Maddy Pfieffer remains in prison though not in solitary confinement.
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