So how is the city’s prosecution going of the nearly 300 Occupy L.A. protesters arrested Nov. 30 by “constitutional policing” methods on orders of Mayor Antonio Villaragosa?
“The prosecution’s opening statement included the
comically inevitable phrase, ‘Free speech is great, but…’ He said
this by way of introduction to the old saw about screaming ‘fire’ in
a crowded theater,” Rosencrantz reported. “In the end, the thrust of the prosecutor’s opening statement
was that this trial was not about free speech but about Ms. Lewis’ ‘criminal activity.’”
Without apparently mentioning Eric Garcetti’s promise the occupiers can “stay as long as you need to,” Public Defender Janet Perez argued Lewis “was arrested for peacefully exercising her 1st Amendment
right to participate in a movement that takes a stand “against bailouts,
foreclosures, poverty and high unemployment.” She talked about the ponchos
supplied by Mayor Villaraigosa, the porta-potties supplied by the city and the LA City Council Resolution passed on October 5 which declared that ‘the
City of Los Angeles hereby stands in SUPPORT for the continuation of the
peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights carried out by Occupy
Los Angeles on City Hall Lawn.’”
The first witness was a veteran detective who testified he wore a Hazmat suit because police believed the protesters would throw bottles of urine and fecal material at them.
Oops, objection, violates discovery rules imposed on all these cases that evidence be limited to specific actions by the specific defendants and that everything be disclosed in advance to defense attorneys.
Flummoxed because he did not know the discovery rule, Judge Drew Edwards recessed the trial for the New Year’s weekend and resumed it on Tuesday without the veteran detective allowed to testify and the judge admitting he was ‘disturbed by the
discovery violations,’ especially after it turned out that the prosecuting
attorney — who was now flanked by five re-enforcements from the City
Attorney’s office — had never even revealed the identity of their prime
witness: Officer Alley, the arresting officer in Martha’s case.’
Oops, case dismissed.
members of the jury, who had not been able to hear most of the three days of
proceedings but were now free discuss the case, approached Public Defender
Perez. They wanted to know what had happened: what about the city resolution in
support of Occupy L.A.? What about the porta-potties? Did the Occupiers have a
right to be there, or not? Was the raid a violation of their free speech, or
of these questions were decided by the proceedings, which instead descended
into procedural legal minutia. Perhaps one of the other ongoing November 30
eviction cases will reach the substantial core issues of the conflict between
the City of Los Angeles and Occupy L.A.”
Questions about whether the infiltration of the Occupy L.A. encampment, their eviction by a massive show of force, keeping them handcuffed hours on end, locking them up in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions constitute “constitutional policing” need to be addressed.
Perhaps, members of the esteemed legal profession or a law school could stage a mock trial in the City Council Chamber to examine the issue.