Today I represented myself in court. What. A. Circus.
It was a “Who’s Who” of Keene Activism:
Pete Eyre of LibertyOnTour.com
Ademo Freeman of CopBlock.org
Ian Freeman of FreeKeene.com and FreeTalkLive.com
Jason Talley of Talley.TV and Fr33Agents.com
James Schlessinger of FreeKeeneTV
Ali Havens of FreeKeeneTV
Kelly Voluntaryist of NaturalBornAnarchist.com
Beau Davis of Fr33domsEye.Fr33Agents.com
Cecelia Fairchild of LadiesInKeene.com
Nemi Jones of ShireFreePress.com
Kate Ager of LadiesInKeene.com,
Nicholas Shankin of ShireFreePress.com, Amish Paul,
Wyatt, David Crawford, Serena & Josh
Video soon to follow this post, but for the meantime, enjoy this recap:
After a shower in the morning, I started off the day by doing some “Don’t Take the Plea Deal” outreach at 8am.
The Shire Choir performed at about 9:50AM, 10 minutes before my trial. We sang a song written by Richard Onley, “Free Derrick J,” and then went upstairs. There we went through a security-theater routine where the bailiffs keep us safe from the pens in our pockets. Once through, I met with the other activists already inside the courtroom, took a seat in the front row, and awaited my name to be called.
When called, I arose, and took the defense table as my stage. I got comfortable, sorting out my papers and disks around the desk and removing my suit jacket, revealing my homemade advertisement adorning the back of my vest: LiveFreeOrDance.com atop a peace sign.
We began. The State motioned to sequester the witnesses and named theirs, then I named mine. Jim Cemorelis, a Keene Police Department law enforcement officer who also works as a city prosecutor included him on my witness list when I filed it weeks ago, but I didn’t subpena him. I never expected he would be available to be sequestered. He looked shocked. He was twiddling around on his cell phone surfing facebook, stood up and left with the other witnesses. (*Spoiler alert* I made him wait 5 hours in a cloud of mystery before calling him to the stand.)
About half of my activist support team now outside the courtroom, the State called its first witness to the stand, Mr. Steven Corrigan, Keene Police Department Badge #138. I asked him about his knowledge of the law which he was enforcing. Unsatisfactory answers.
Next came Michael Kopcha. Then it was determined that video would be shown to the court and all of the sequestered witnesses at the same time. After about an hour of viewing myself get pepper sprayed from 3 different angles, the State finished its line of questioning for Kopcha and gave me the stage. I cross-examined Kopcha with questions which made him squirm: You seem confused now–were you confused then? Would you like to apologize for your actions that day? Do you think you used excessive force? About how long does the pain of pepper spray last in comparison to that of being pushed? I motioned to dismiss based on witness being incompetent to testify. I motioned to dismiss based on lack of an identified complainant. I motioned to dismiss based on lack of corpus delecti. The State objected to much of my line of questioning and all of my motions.
Next I got to call my witnesses: First came Jason Repsher, who recollected that Corrigan and Kopcha announced two different motives for their presence, couldn’t cite the laws which they were purporting to enforce, escalated the situation from peaceful to violent, and then attempted to hide from their actions by coordinating an effort to conceal the view from the audience with blinking flashlights focused on camera lenses.
Jason Talley was called and testified to the same effect.
Then followed James Schlessinger, who testified similarly. Following this, Judge Burke told me that if I have any more witnesses who speak with the same testimony, it would be a waste of the court’s time to bring them forward. Instead he recommended that I name the witnesses who will support the testimony previously brought forward, and he would note them on the record.
I called Ian Freeman to the stand. He testified a bit on some different topics. I had already been told that my character was irrelevant to the trial, so I asked him about his ownership of the equipment. He revealed that the property belonged to him and was under my care during the time of the Live Free or Dance celebration.
Finally, I called Jim Cemorelis to the stand. My goal was to highlight the nature of the state’s preferential treatment toward coworkers. After entertaining some questions about the nature of Jim’s profession, Burke interrupted and made my point for me. He shamelessly explained it was self-evident that the court and the prosecution work together and support each other.
I concluded with a closing statement summarizing my arguments. There is no identified complainant. I never physically resisted. There is no victim in this case besides myself.
Burke found me guilty of all three charges. The state recommended a sentence of 90 days for the obstructing charge, 90 days for the resisting charge, and a fine of $1240 for refusing to process–all suspended for 2 years on the condition of “good behavior.” If the fine were “paid” by sitting in a jail cell, that would bring the total cage time to 6 months. Up to 2/3rds of a sentence can be reduced in what is known as “good time,” which brings the most idealistic situation to 60 days in jail.
I have appealed Burke’s decision to a jury trial to be held in superior court in Keene. I will be notified of the date my mail.
One of the greatest things about today was that 100% of the witnesses I addressed gave me permission to use their first names, and I avoided all use of the term “your honor.”
I want to thank Adam and Jason from MarijuanaMuscle.com for recording high quality audio and video of the full 5-hour trial. I’d like to thank all those who came out to support me and those who kept me in your thoughts. I wouldn’t have the same confidence or motivation to refuse a plea deal if not for the supportive community here in the Shire.