MORE OF THE ENDLESS ORDEAL FOR THE SC-11 ACTIVISTS
Attorneys for the Final Four of the Santa Cruz Eleven--peaceful political activists and journalists--will meet with Judge Paul Burdick and D.A. Bob Lee's appointed flunky to determine whether the 2-3 week long felony trials will begin in September as scheduled.
The four are charged with felony vandalism and trespass charges for peaceful protest against the real master of foreclosure fraud, Wells Fargo Bank, nearly 2 years ago, at a long-vacant bank building at 75 River St. None of the four are charged with actual vandalism, just being present to "enable" or "aid and abet" the vandalism. Essentially this was a series of charges to shut down Occupy Santa Cruz (which didn't actually organize the bank occupation).
JUDGE SOUGHT SETTLEMENT AT PRIOR HEARING
At a prior status hearing on August 16 Judge Burdick reportedly pressed for a settlement of the cases before trial. (So far the only offers have been pleading to felonies, which the defendants have rejected).
One observer felt this was because Burdick thought a guilty verdict at trial was likely, and that the trial wasn't worth the expense This would seem particularly true, given the how poor the defendants are--two of them are homeless.
If the purpose was to reimburse Wells Fargo for damages done by others to its leased and still vacant building on River and Water Streets, to undergo a trial costing over $100,000 for damages that amount to less than $30,000 (using Wells Fargo's inflated estimates)
A second observer felt Burdick might be coming around to understand how political the how prosecution is, how time-wasting, and--perhaps--how questionable in terms of the justice involved. Both observers agreed that the new prosecutor--who has taken over for the discredited and sanctioned Rebekah Young-- is still hot for a trial.
On August 16, Burdick suggested that the defendants "prepare for restitution". Some of the dialogue between judge and attorneys reportedly concerned the fact that those really responsible for damage at the River St. building weren't in court (or even known to authorities).
DELAY OF SEPTEMBER TRIAL LIKELY
None of the defendants has really made any strong appeal for supporters to attend, though I'm sure Brent Adams--probably the only defendant likely to attend--wouldn't mind.
Cameron's attorney, Alexis Briggs, is reportedly six months pregnant and some police witnesses will be unable to appear at the current trial date in September. This may push the trial back to February 2014. Brent's attorney, Jesse Rubin, is appearing before Burdick in a murder trial in September which would also make a delay likely.
The prosecutor now reportedly estimated the length of the trial to be 2-3 weeks. (Rebekah Young, when she was the D.A. on the case, before retiring to Texas, estimated a week or so, with Briggs suggesting that was far too optimistic.)
D.A. STILL TRYING TO DODGE BURDICK'S SANCTIONS
Rebekah Young, whose misconduct resulted in a $500 fine to D.A. Bob Lee's office, took off in the spring for Texas. Lee has appealed the sanctions but none of the attorneys served were willing to spend the time to file papers defending the fines against the D.A.
A private legal worker may be preparing a brief (which was due on August 19th, but perhaps there's basis for an extension). I may be willing to file that brief if no one else will and if it looks like it can be done without costing more than it's worth.
So far D.A. Lee has put thousands of dollars of work time into appealing the $500 fine and filed a 49 page brief defending his incompetent D.A. (Young).
One of the SC-11 attorneys has frankly described Lee's brief as marred by "lies"---indeed the history of the contempt-ridden behavior of Lee's D.A. Young has been notorious. (See http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/03/07/18733298.php
Attached is Lee's attempt to overturn the $500 fine, which was absurdly mild considering the repeated nature of Young's misconduct by repeatedly violating court orders and withholding evidence from the defense.
Some wags have suggested a Panhandle-In or Blacktop Benefit for Lee in order to raise the $500 to spare the community the thousands of dollars Lee is spending on appealing Burdick's ruling.