Just got an update from the GetEQUAL crew at the Federal Courthouse here in DC. Today, as you will recall, the 13 DADT protesters were facing arraignment on charges far more serious than most civil disobedience. As reported earlier today, the judge, after evoking the civil rights movement, told the lawyers for the government and the protesters to work something out.
That still hasn’t happened.
The US Attorney’s Office said they still need time. They weren’t ready to change anything at this point. So, for now, they’re sticking with the more serious criminal charges of “violating the orders of a federal law enforcement officer,” which could result in jail time. The prosecutor is basing the charges on Section 2.32 (a)(2) of Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations (Interfering with agency functions.) So, why won’t the prosecutor change the charges to the lesser — and more standard — crime of disorderly conduct or unlawful assembly under DC’s code, not federal statutes? The prosecutor apparently doesn’t think the protesters were “boisterous.” (That’s one of the provisions in the DC code for unlawful assembly.) She looked up the definition of “boisterous” in the dictionary and wasn’t satisfied the protesters met the definition. Not sure what dictionary she used to look up the definition of “boisterous,” but here’s the definition from dictionary.com:
rough and noisy; noisily jolly or rowdy; clamorous; unrestrained:
Again, watch this video of the protesters.
Yeah, nothing boisterous there. The intransigence of the government’s lawyers doesn’t make sense.
Mark Goldstone, the lawyer for the 13 protesters, presented a couple of options. For example, the 13 protesters might plead guilty to disorderly conduct under DC law or there could be a DC traffic offense, which is the usual punishment. If not, the 13 will go to trial. They don’t want federal criminal conviction, which is what the prosecutors intend.
Judge Faccialo told the government to give serious consideration to the suggestions offered by the defendants. He also made it clear that he wants to see this case through.
There’s a status hearing scheduled for May 17, 2010. Between now and then, the lawyers for both sides will keep talking. So, for now, there has been no resolution.
The U.S. Marshalls also fingerprinted and photographed the defendants again. The defendants were told they can’t leave the country without informing him. They were told to appear again on September 19, 2011 for either a plea or a trial.
That gives us several more months to figure out why the Obama administration’s Department of Justice is cracking down on citizens engaged in civil disobedience.