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Function of Juries & Jurors Doing Justice & Jury Nullification | 07 Apr 2015

-Holdout Jurors Protect Citizen Media


Protesters4Fullerton, California jurors recently deadlocked in the cases of citizen journalists A.J. Redkey and P.M. Beers, who were livestreaming during a January 2014 protest after the acquittal of two police officers for the death of Kelly Thomas. Thomas, a mentally ill, homeless man was beaten and tased by police officers. He fell unconscious on the scene and died five days later from his injuries.

Redkey and Beers were accused of violating California penal code section 409. Rather than dealing individually with less than a handful of unruly individuals present at the demonstration, police reportedly declared the assembly of hundreds of concerned citizens to be collectively unlawful based on the arrest of two people for vandalism and a scuffle between a protester and a camerawoman.

City of Fullerton Conspires to Silence Free Press Following Hung Jury in #LivestreamOnTrial

Deputy District Attorney Matt Mattis presented extensive evidence about three other events that day in Fullerton: the vandalism of the small business Slidebar, graffiti spray-painted on the police department, and the confrontation between a bandana-wearing protester and a member of the KCBS camera crew. The convicted perpetrators of those crimes were named throughout the trial. DA Mattis clearly stated defendants Redkey and Beers were never violent and never vandalized, but argued they were guilty of a crime for being present at a location that was declared to be an “unlawful assembly” and willfully remaining after the order was given.

The district attorney pointed out in closing arguments that he never mentioned the First Amendment because it was “not relevant” to this case. During the trial, defense attorney Derek Bercher described PM Beers as an “embedded” journalist providing an unfiltered view from ground level. Defense attorney John Raphling presented AJ Redkey’s style as “Comedy Central” instead of “Fox News or MSNBC” journalism.

By all accounts, neither Beers nor Redkey was involved in any of these incidents, nor was either arrested at the scene of the protest for failing to disperse. Rather, Beers was arrested for failing to disperse only hours later at an entirely different location from where she had allegedly failed to disperse. Redkey wasn’t arrested for failing to disperse until nearly four months later, on what just happened to be the day before another planned protest of unlawful arrests by Fullerton police. Six, apparently undercover, officers traveled all the way from Fullerton to Pasadena to apprehend him over an alleged non-violent offense committed weeks prior.

More information on Redkey’s arrest is here:
6 Fullerton Cops Sent to Pasadena to Arrest Man for Non-Violent Misdemeanor

Ms. Beers recently discussed in an article entitled Why Innocent People Take Plea Bargains, her decision not to take a plea bargain and what allowed her that opportunity when most other people are coerced into forgoing their right to trial by jury:

You may be aware that I was recently on trial for failure to disperse [409 PC] from the Kelly Thomas murder verdict protest. I wasn’t sure if I had broken the law or not, but I was certain that I had done nothing unethical. The first plea deal we were offered was three years unsupervised probation, a fine, and community service. That was a ridiculous offer as I personally know people convicted of the same crime in Los Angeles who were found guilty in a court of law by a jury of 12 people and given a 50 dollar fine. I know of other people who were given the option of taking a class on the first amendment in exchange for the DA not filing charges.

Many criminal cases take over a year to resolve involving many days in court, delays and postponements. If a person has a job or is a student, this could lead to the loss of their job or failing of their classes. If I had a job where I had to be present to clock-in, I certainly wouldn’t be free to take so many days off whenever I was required to appear in court, let alone more than a week off for my trail by iteself. My co-defendant, AJ, was lucky to have such an awesome employment situation which let him have the days off he needed. If given a choice between loosing one’s job and taking a plea deal, most of us would not be privileged enough to face a jury trial due the state of our economy.

After failing to convict either defendant, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office is seeking do-overs in both cases this month.
OC DA to Retry Citizen Journalists For Unlawful Assembly After Hung Jury: Update

All but one juror favored finding the defendant AJ Redkey guilty of the misdemeanor offense. The jury similarly deadlocked 8-4 for PM Beers. The Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) office decided against dismissing the case and, in a gigantic waste of everybody’s time, will press for a retrial next month.

“The case is about the right to protest and whether or not the police can use the negative actions of a very few people in the crowd as an excuse to shut down the entire protest,” defense attorney John Raphling tells the Weekly. “Fullerton Police should have simply arrested the small handful of bad actors and respected the rights of the rest to speak out for justice.”

Round 2 is scheduled to start on April 17 at Orange County Superior Court in Fullerton.