Washington DC – After three days of trial and six hours of deliberation the jury has returned the verdicts on the six defendants facing charges from the arrests at the United States Supreme Court on January 20, 2012.
The six defendants – David Barahona, 21 (TX), Robert Cruz, 47 (CA), Taylor Hall, 23 (PA), Thi Le, 20 (WI), Andrea Rea, 63 (MD), Will Silvester, 21 (CT) – were all arrested on January 20, 2012 after allegedly parading and unlawfully entering the Supreme Court of the United States grounds during a protest against the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. For the first time ever, relating to these charges, a trial by jury was granted by the Court.
Trial commenced on Monday, August 27, 2012. There were 13 charges total – six counts of Parades, Assemblages, and Display of Flags in The Supreme Court Building and Grounds, six counts of Unlawful Entry of The Supreme Court, and one count of Simple Assault on a Police Officer.
The prosecution, Travis Hill and Melanie Devoe, presented their case with five witnesses – Ethan Flick, Amanda Baker, Nathan Mishkin, Vanessa Torroella, and Anthony Dziak – all Supreme Court officers. The defense counsel consisted of George Lane, Ann Wilcox, Mark Goldstone, and defendant pro se Thi Le. They followed with their case by calling seven witnesses to the stand – Shellie Frisina, Fitzgerald Scott, and defendants Barahona, Hall, Le, Rea, and Silvester.
The prosecution argued the defendants were a part of a procession that went up to the top of the Supreme Court steps. Hill and Devoe reinforced the use of “mic checks” as a form of group communication. They further argued that people had signs and were chanting on the steps even after being warned to leave by police officers.
On August 29th, Judge Gerald Fisher granted a motion for judgment of acquittal (MJOA) for the charge of Unlawful Entry of the Supreme Court Grounds because the prosecution failed to prove that the grounds were lawfully closed. This meant that six of the total 13 charges have been acquitted – one per defendant.
The defense argued that the police removed themselves from the police line, therefore allowing people up the steps. The defense also argued that none of the defendants were holding signs, banners, or devices while on the Supreme Court steps.
On August 31st, the jury returned the following verdicts on the charge of Parades, Assemblages, and Display of Flags in The Supreme Court Building and Grounds:
D. Barahona – Guilty, R. Cruz – Not guilty, T. Hall – Not guilty, T. Le – Not guilty, A. Rea – Guilty, W. Silvester – Guilty.
Additionally, R. Cruz was found not guilty on the charge of Simple Assault on a Police Officer.
Barahona was convicted for meditating on the stairs and for testifying that “I stood up by sitting down;” Rea was convicted for running up the steps; Silvester was convicted for failing to leave within a minute after a warning was issued. They were sentenced with 20 hours of community service or a $200 donation to a charity.
The defendants and defense counsel are claiming a victory in this case for the following reasons: They presented their case to a jury; Judge Fisher dismissed one of the charges for each of the defendants because the prosecution failed to prove their case; and more than half of the charges were acquitted.
Barahona, Rea, and Silvester plan on appealing their cases.
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