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Dr. Shaun Joseph, Rumsfeld protester, ALL CHARGES DISMISSED
ALL CHARGES DISMISSED - DO NOT COME TO COURT!
(unless you really like crypto-fascist architecture)
Friends, I am happy to tell you that all charges against me have been dismissed by the Suffolk County DA as of this afternoon. After an extraordinarily tangled and drawn-out process--the court first tried to delay my trial AGAIN; then Assistant District Attorney Susan Terrey dropped the "resisting arrest" charge; then the Judge Tracy-Lee Lyons took us through a kind of undergraduate seminar on existential logic (with her honor playing the undergrad) before storming out for lunch; then Terrey finally dropped the "assault on a police officer" charge--my 18-month tour through the criminal "justice" system has ended with my total vindication.
There is much to say--and I hope to write about the political lessons of my experience soon--but for now I will limit myself only to thanking everyone who helped me through this ordeal, especially my superb lawyer Myong Joun and everyone else at the National Lawyers Guild; my comrades in the International Socialist Organization, the United National Antiwar Coalition, Boston United for Justice with Peace, Veterans for Peace, the RI Mobilization Committee to Stop War and Occupation, and many other social justice organizations; and everyone who expressed their support, signed a petition, and/or came out for court solidarity.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to share a very fine article from Ralph Lopez that reminds us all of why it's necessary to protest criminals like Donald Rumsfeld (note: contains some graphic/disturbing images).
Thanks again for all your political, emotional, legal, and moral support.
To view video of arrest from two years ago, go to "Arrest at Donald Rumsfeld Book Signing Boston" (http://youtu.be/Vg35bRIRyIg)
ALL SUPPORTERS WELCOME! If you do decide to attend, please keep the following in mind:
- The trial will last two days. You are welcome to attend as much of it as you can--but if you can only come once, I recommend the SECOND day (but see the next point). It is OK if you can only attend for part of a day. Proceedings will go from 9AM until about 5PM, although the judge has discretion to adjourn earlier or later.
- On Thursday, an update will be sent out; please be on the lookout for it, as it will tell you whether the trial is going forward--it may still be dismissed--and relay any important updates (eg, trial courtroom). If you would like to receive an update by text message,
send your number to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- We will gather at Courtroom 10 at 9AM on Thursday to be assigned a trial room on the sixth floor. If you cannot make this, you may head up to the sixth floor and try to find us; we should be in one of the three courtrooms on that floor.
- No cell phones or other electronic devices are permitted in the courtroom itself, although you will be allowed to carry them into the building. It is OK for you to step out of the courtroom to use your phone, go to the restroom, etc--but please limit this, as the bailiff may eject you if he decides you are causing a distraction.
- You may bring books or other paper-based reading/writing material. (Indeed, you are encouraged to do so: court proceedings are extremely tedious.)
- Please maintain good order in court. Anything with a political message is subject to confiscation by the court.
If you have any other questions, please contact email@example.com. Below I reproduce the last two updates to supporters, which explains the case's background, and how my "right to speedy trial" has been effectively nullified.
As many of you know, on September 26, 2011--yes, over a year ago--I was arrested at a protest outside a talk by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who was in Boston promoting a memoir of his achievements, whatever they may be. While attempting to begin a rational discussion with a police officer who was forcibly pulling a bullhorn from a comrade's hand, I was seized without warning from behind by a police officer, thrown into the street, handcuffed, and taken to jail. Like most people who are assaulted by the police, I was charged with "assault and battery on a police officer" and "resisting arrest." You are welcome to judge for yourself whether these allegations are true, as the entire arrest was captured on video by VanzettiTV:
Arrest at Donald Rumsfeld Book Signing Boston
For extra credit, attempt to identify the "karate chop like manaveur [sic]" that Sgt. David L. O'Connor alleges that I used on him. If you can see it, you may have a future in the Boston Police Department--or even the Office of the District Attorney.
All jokes aside, I hope it is clear that I am totally innocent of the charges, and that this arrest and prosecution are entirely political in nature. If convicted on either charge, I could be imprisoned for up to 2.5 years. A conviction could endanger my career as a computer scientist, even though I have a doctoral degree in this field.
As anyone can tell from the video evidence, bringing this case to trial is almost comical example of prosecutorial slavishness towards the police. Several thousand dollars of taxpayer money have been (and will be) wasted in an increasingly ridiculous attempt to not "officially" admit that Sgt. O'Connor is a liar. The Assistant District Attorney prosecuting the case has tried to avoid going to trial by offering me some so-called "good deals." Her final offer [but one], made in August, was three-month probation retroactive to the date of the arrest; that is, my probation would have been over literally before it began! Truly, the law is a powerful force.
However, I refuse to be put "on probation," even in the most vacuous sense, for crimes I did not commit. I turned down this "deal," and instead of doing the logical thing and dismissing the case, the ADA lurches ever-forward into a trial.
Why? Am I dangerous? Do I deserve to be punished? The prosecution was perfectly happy to let me walk free and without material penalty--but only by playing their game, escaping only by a route that would allow them to claim that their system worked. The trial, rather than a process that determines the truth of the charges, becomes itself a form of punishment for the "crime" of not making a deal.
While I understand completely why people--even innocent people--make deals with prosecutors, I strongly agree with Michelle Alexander that refusing to do so can be a form of resistance. If even a modest percentage of the accused did so, the legal system would grind to a halt (not that it proceeds much quicker than a halt at present).
Friends, unfortunately my trial--on charges already well over a year old--has been delayed to March 7, 2013. If you were planning to attend court today, tomorrow, or Friday, there is now no need. My sincerest apologies to those of you will be inconvenienced by this extraordinary delay caused by the District Attorney's latest display of incompetence; and my deepest apologies and thanks to the many who came out to support me today.
Today's experience may be worth recounting for those of you who--like me before this incident--have not experienced the "workings" of of the judicial system first hand. It may also be amusing even for those who have.
I first suspected something was amiss when Susan Terrey, the chief prosecutor, walked by my lawyer and me on the way into the courthouse.
"Hi," said Ms. Terrey to my lawyer, "It's tomorrow, right?"
"No, today," replied my lawyer.
"Oh...OK," replied Ms. Terrey.
Now I happen to know that prosecutors deal with a lot of cases, both because a lot of things are needlessly criminalized, and because they seem to think it's their job to uphold police lies and misconduct, no matter how absurd. But surely they are expected to keep track of when they are actually supposed to try a case? Apparently not--for as I've been discovering, a defendant's notional right to a speedy trial is always in practice trumped by prosecutor excuses and the "slack" that judges are always willing to cut the state (but never the defense).
In a courtroom packed to overflowing with people charged mainly with drug offenses, Judge Annette Forde dealt "swift justice" to defendants who, for whatever reason--traffic? kids? work? using the bathroom?--missed their call-up, issuing warrants and seizing their bail. Yet when my case came up, and Ms. Terrey announced that the prosecution wasn't ready because one of their police witnesses had "childcare issues," suddenly the burden was on us to explain why the state shouldn't be given another three months to, I guess, help a policeman find a babysitter.
Finding decent childcare is indeed a difficult problem in our society, but I find it difficult to believe that, in the first place, a well-paid police officer couldn't manage it with three months' advance notice. (The trial date was confirmed by both sides on September 5.) More importantly: what would Judge Forde have said if we had asked to delay the trial with the same excuse? It's not hard to guess.
My lawyer moved to dismiss the case because the prosecution didn't have it's act together, despite having over a year to prepare. This was denied by Judge Forde, who commented with righteous distaste: "This young man struck a police officer!" Now for those of you playing along at home, you will recall that this is precisely the matter at issue at trial. Thus Judge Forde seems to have decided to allow a delay in my trial on the basis of (false) allegations that can only be legally established...at the trial. Once again we see that a trial is, under our present noble system of "justice," not a means of determining the truth of allegations, but itself a kind of punishment for the "crime" of having allegations against you.
One silver lining in this otherwise very gray cloud: Judge Forde did grant our request that there be no continuances after March 7. Therefore if the state remains unready in March, the case will be automatically dismissed.
For what it's worth, the prosecution offered me the same "deal" as last time; and, like last time, I refused it. Maybe they thought they had worn me down? Alas, my determination to outlast them, to drag them however slowly to the point where they have no choice but to concede my total innocence, is more impenetrable than ever.
Thank you all again for your support.
More Information: firstname.lastname@example.org