Judge Rules for Occupy Defendant, and Against City of Sacramento; Sides to Argue in Court Friday; City Occupy Tab Continues to Grow
SACRAMENTO – The City of Sacramento and Occupy Sacramento go to court Friday morning to decide if the City can, in effect, drop charges against someone arrested and then deem them guilty and charge them an “administrative” penalty anyway.
A hearing is set Friday (4/27/12), at 9 a.m. in Dept. 31 (Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny).
Judge Kenny tentatively ruled in the case Friday, noting Occupy defendant Kathryn Coke has “valid legal claims” to proceed to trial and denying the City’s claim that Coke could not challenge the City’s decision to find her guilty without a trial, especially after criminal charges had been dismissed.
Rather than accept Judge Kenny’s decision to allow Coke’s lawyers to continue to trial May 18 challenging the City, lawyers for the City are now insisting on a chance to argue Friday.
The City initially filed misdemeanor charges against Occupy Sacramento protestors in October and November of 2011 for protesting in Cesar Chavez park after curfew. On the day before the trials were to commence, the City dismissed the misdemeanor charges and, on the same day, asserted “administrative penalties” against the Occupy protestors for the very same alleged violation of law.
Pro bono lawyers Jeff Anderson and Patrick Soluri filed a petition for writ of prohibition in Superior Court on behalf of Coke, challenging the lawfulness of the City’s actions.
“The essence of our legal challenge is that the City may not lawfully dismiss misdemeanor charges and then re-file ‘administrative penalty’ claims for the same alleged conduct in a kangaroo court where the defendant is denied trial by jury, court-ordered discovery, and the right to challenge the legality of the City’s curfew ordinance,” said Soluri.
There have been 110 arrests for curfew violations at Cesar Chavez Park since October of 2011, and no convictions. The City admitted late in 2011 that it had spent close to a $500,000 to make arrests – although police have said all the protests have been peaceful. No one knows what the City has spent trying to prosecute the cases.