Monday, September 19, 2011

Closing Statements in the Irvine 11 Trial

From UC Rebel Radio:
Santa Ana, California - Today court resumed with closing statements in the Irvine 11 10 case. After the jury walked in, the judge took over 45 minutes to instruct the jury as to the procedure of trial and the law including a statement that pertained to "bias", declaring that it shouldn't influence the jury's judgement. The judge also read some of the statements made by the accused during the event in which they protested Israeli Ambassador, Michael Oren's Speech, but curiously the only statements read by the judge where those which called Oren a "murderer" or implied that he was akin to one.

Thereafter, the Prosecution took the stage and proceeded with their sports metaphors as usual (read previous post), arguing that the Irvine 11 had conspired to commit a "heckler's veto" of the Ambassador's Speech in order to "shut down" the event, a word that was used in a fancy overhead display in bold red letters to persuade the jury. The Prosecution then continued to lay out the case as they saw it, declaring that the Irvine 11 were guilty of violating "the rules that apply to society" since they did not heed the admonishment from Prof. Petracca of UC Irvine as he was heard to say the words "Behave yourself" in a video shown from the event. The Prosecution argued that Petracca's words (as well as Chancellor's Michael Drake's brief commentary) were in fact the "implicit customs" and "rules" of the meeting which were supposedly violated by the defendants. The Prosecution stated that the protest was "not freedom" but an example of "Anarchy". The prosecution added, "when you don't follow the law, our community breaks down" and "permitting censorship of ideeers [sic] destroys the marketplace". The Prosecution discussed that the accused could have effected their protest during a Q&A section at the end of Oren's Speech, but that the accused chose to violate the law instead.

Among other statements by the Prosecution, they argued that what happened to President Obama when someone yelled out "You lie" during an address to Congress was a very different case since what happened in Congress was "only two words" by an "individual". Other "evidence" presented by the Prosecution included several pie charts that depicted in black and red the "time" that they believed the protest lasted (as opposed to the time that Oren spoke) in order to show that the accused "substantially" disrupted the meeting. Also, a debriefing video of an unidentified person saying "we pretty much shut them down" was shown as evidence of the "intent" of the protest. Lastly, the Prosecution argued that the accused did "not resist" arrest, because it was part of their "plan" or "conspiracy".

After the Prosecution delivered their closing statement the court went to recess. During this intermission there was a Press Conference outside the courthouse with local leaders from the community in support of the Irvine 11, (See video of press conference, coming soon).

In the afternoon, the court resumed with the closing statements from Defense attorney Dan Mayfield. In his statement, Mayfield expressed that the Prosecution was leading the jury to believe that "when people are arrested they are guilty".Mayfield also argued that the pie charts presented by the Prosecution were inaccurate given that they counted the time "attributable to protesters" in which the crowd was shouting as well as when UC-Irvine Professor, Petracca chose to "hear his own voice" by expressing his "personal embarrassment" to the crowd. Upon this last reference there was the first incidence of clapping in the courtroom. Then laughter came as Mayfield introduced one of the accused as the "world's biggest teddy bears" during the part of his presentation dedicated to show that the protesters indeed had planned to "not resist" the police. Mayfield explained that the accused were very carefully planning to "abide" by the law, a word that was later emphasized by the other defense attorney in closing statements, Reem Salahi. Mayfield argued that if the planning that took place by the Irvine 11 was enough to convict them of "conspiracy" then the planning of the UCPD was also a "conspiracy" as Mayfield recalled a witness testimony from Police Chief, Hennesy stating the fact that there were "metal handcuffs" at the scene prior to the protest. Mayfield added that "Oren himself believed that he was not substantially interfered with" as he recalled Oren's statement "wishing those students" had "remained" in the room (See our previous post on the Irvine 11). Lastly, Mayfield argued that the "rules" or "customs" of the meeting were uncorroborated arguments since neither Petracca nor Drake ever took the stand to verify the meaning of their statements in court. Then Mayfield went on to have a mock witness examination of Drake and Petracca to demonstrate why it was important for them to testify to the accuracy of their statements by asking an empty chair if he [an imaginary Drake] had "other bosses" and whether they interpreted the "rules" and "customs" in the same fashion, as well as an imaginary Petracca, asking him whether he "had something to drink that evening". More laughter filled the packed courtroom (which had to employ over 5 bailiffs by the end of the day). Mayfield closed with a famous e.e. cummings poem to emphasize the importance of language.

Thereafter, Defense attorney Reem Salahi took the podium to address the jury. In her closing statement, Salahi emphasized Mayfield's argument that the UCPD's "plan" to counter the protest was planned in the same fashion as the accused "plan" for the protest. Salahi added that the statements given by UCPD Chief Hennesy were contradictory to evidence since he stated having no "prior knowledge" of a protest, when in UC-Irvine's Dean of Students, Edgar Dormitorio's statement, he mentions having found out about the plan for the protest from the Chief of Police himself. Salahi also mentioned that the Prosecution was relying on other testimony from an unknown subject since the person in the video presentation from the prosecution saying the words "we pretty much shut them down" (in reference to the meeting) could never be identified or ever brought to the courtroom. Salahi also stated that in Dormitorio's own words "no disruption would be allowed", thus violating the right to protest. Salahi then showed a series of videos which portrayed several protests taking place at the UC Irvine campus which were disrupted in the same fashion and in which "police" and "administration" "were present" and no arrest took place, thus emphasizing the disproportionate attention that this case has garnered. To close, Salahi was going to tell a personal anecdote, but the Prosecution objected as to its relevance and the judge sustained the motion. Salahi looked perplexed at first, but then she said, "I guess I can't tell you the story. I got shut down" and the crowd in the courtroom erupted in clapping and cheering.

After she sat, the judge declared a brief recess. When he returned (10 minutes late from the time he set), he admonished the crowd while the jury was still out, saying he would not permit anymore "gesturing". Then he let in the jury and told the crowd to leave and that the case would continue tomorrow morning...
For more information, check out Nora Barrows-Friedman's coverage at the Electronic Intifada.

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