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The Trial of Martha Lewis, Occupy LA Protester

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?

Not so good, according to the tabulation provided to the LA Weekly by the City Attorney’s office: 50 misdemeanor cases were filed, 3 convictions based on plea bargains, 2 cases deferred, 7 dismissed for lack of evidence, 4 dropped in exchange for pleas to probation violation. The rest are pending.
That’s not the kind of conviction rate that will help Carmen Trutanich graduate from City Attorney to District Attorney.
One of the cases that was dismissed on Tuesday involved Martha Lewis, 56, a soup kitchen worker and long-time activist who showed up in court wearing a purple Catholic Worker t-shirt.
In the new tradition of citizen journalists doing great work in the absence of paid professionals, KCET carries an article by downtown resident and Occupy supporter Jason Rosencrantz on the trial of Martha Lewis.
I can’t do justice to the way Rosencrantz tells the story but knowing your attention span is short, I will provide a sterilized semi-professional version.
Attorneys representing the Occupiers have adopted a strategy of making prosecutors follow all legal procedures and prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury of the defendants’ peers, which is not so easy to assemble.
Some potential jurors voiced clear antagonism to the Occupy movement and were discharged. A dozen ohers were challenged by the prosecutor including a Chinese woman whose aunt was arrested at Tiananmen Square and a Latina who has a relative shot by police in country of origin and a young man who objected to the suspension of the Constitution in the new National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Obama.

“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. “I
n 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. 

Concludes Rosencrantz: 

“Several
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
not?

“None
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.

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8 Responses to The Trial of Martha Lewis, Occupy LA Protester

  1. Anonymous says:

    Let’s name names. Who are the Assistant and Deputy City Attorneys in charge of the cases?

  2. Anonymous says:

    The Buck Stops Here – Carmen Trutanich should never again be voted ihto any public office.

  3. Heywood Jablowme says:

    I’m confused. First everyone is upset that the Occupiers are being prosecuted, and now everyone is complaining that they’re not being prosecuted. Would you guys make up your mind on how this is suppse to go, and let the rest of us know. The circle jerk of logic doesn’t make sense and just draws away your credibility.
    Is the big story here that the whole system is broken? We already knew that and most occupiers would be the first to tell you that.
    Rather than organize to change public policy, all they’re doing is wasting time playing legal games that will ultimately do nothing for anyone.
    It’s time to get those tents out and occupy the County or U.S. courthouse parks.

  4. Heywood Jablowme says:

    I’m confused. First everyone is upset that the Occupiers are being prosecuted, and now everyone is complaining that they’re not being prosecuted. Would you guys make up your mind on how this is suppse to go, and let the rest of us know. The circle jerk of logic doesn’t make sense and just draws away your credibility.
    Is the big story here that the whole system is broken? We already knew that and most occupiers would be the first to tell you that.
    Rather than organize to change public policy, all they’re doing is wasting time playing legal games that will ultimately do nothing for anyone.
    It’s time to get those tents out and occupy the County or U.S. courthouse parks.

  5. Wayne from Encino says:

    Can’t say it better: (of course with a tiny bit of editing:)
    By Anonymous on January 5, 2012 8:11 PM
    The Buck Stops Here – Carmen(Gaga)-Tru-ly-(Dumb)tanich should never again be voted into any public office.
    Then we have “Gaga’s” bigger Schmuck Brother in Crime: Cooley prosecuting the Hollywood Arsonist!
    All that Cooley had to do was REMAND THE ARSONIST TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT—Then THE FEDS could prosecute the ALIEN-TERRORIST under the new law WHERE THEY SHIP HIM RIGHT OVER TO GUANTANIMO BAY. A. County would then save A FEW MILLION BUCKS. Then—how about RECOVERING FROM THE FEDS ALL THE DAMAGES SUFFERED BY THE CITY, THE HOMES THAT WERE TORCHED, AND ALL THE OVERTIME LAPD LOST? Why? Because the Feds LET THIS LUNATIC LOOSE KNOWING ABOUT HIM BEING A REAL PROBLEM CHILD HERE ILLEGALLY.
    Instead we have “Gaga” jailing protestors and single mothers working on minimum wage and Cooley spending millions on a TERRORST!
    I VOTED FOR BOTH USELESS FOOLS, and didn’t sell my house in 2006. So who am I to talk when you think about it? But at least I admit I’m a schmuck, that’s the difference.

  6. Anonymous says:

    9:45 p.m., the Occupiers should not be prosecuted. The LAPD terrorized them enough. Punishment served.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The comment has been made elsewhere, that if Carmen the Clown Trutanich cannot adequately supervise his own staff so that they can conduct the most elementary of prosecutions – a simple misdemeanor crime of trespass, then how on earth can any rational person think he is capable of handling serious felony crimes prosecuted by the DA’s Office.
    Trutanich was in full panic mode today, calling any and every media outlet to try to blame-shift responsibility for his monumental screw up. The stench of fear on the eighth floor of City Hall East was palpable. In the end he managed to get the Daily News to buy his BS that the fault lies with LAPD. It’s another lie from Trutanich.
    For all Nuch’s lame excuses, the fact is that the buck stops at his desk. The City Hall Insider said it best; he’s unfit for the job, If he cannot manage to organize the simplest prosecution imaginable, then his dreams of being DA are over, with or without the millions of dollars of special interest campaign donations he has extracted from firms looking to cash in on the bonanza give aways of taxpayer money at the City Attorney’s Office.
    Goodbye Mr. Carmen ‘Nuch’ Trutanich. You played us like fools, we will return the favor at the ballot box.

  8. Wayne from Encino says:

    Re: Daily News: Usually its the old fart Orlov that is the de facto PROPOGANDA MINISTER for Villar and now Gaga Dumbanich (aka Carmen the Clown.) In L.A. I’ve been TERRORIZED by developers and their backhoes and armies of crooked crooks chopping down tree lines and bulldozing housing for McMansionization; I’ve been AMAZED IN HORROR to see Ventura Blvd. turned into a Big Box retailer front while small businesses are FLEEING by the dozens; I see the LAPD willfully ALLOW RAVE-STYLE BARS to OCCUPY CD 12/ CD 3,5, and 6. I’ve been THREATENED with having to ASSUME LIABILITY for SIDEWALKS AND STREET TREES. Then I’ve seen 311 services cut to the bone and DWP conduct a relentless and ruthless campaign to DOUBLE OUR BILLS!!!! I tried in absolute VAIN to get assistance in at least one of these issues. NOT A DAMN ONE!
    Where the FUCK is “OUR CITY ATTORNEY?” He’s out to those $1,000 lumches with the campaign donors. He’s letting the Clowncil GUT the whole Staff too! This is just a short list. THE GUY LIED AND SCREWED ALL OF US AND WE ATE HIS SHIT UP LIKE THOSE OREO SNACKS AT CARL’S JR!!!
    Same for Gaga’s partner in Crime ZINE—Both of these CLOWNS need to finish LAST.

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