Wednesday, November 12, 2008

DNC prosecution costs questioned

The Rocky:

Lawyers for protesters arrested during the Democratic National Convention want to know how much Denver is spending to prosecute the cases, citing a 1-17 losing streak so far.

According to Brian Vicente, executive director of the People's Law Project, of the first 18 cases set for trial, only one has resulted in a conviction.

In that case, prosecutors were able to produce videotape that showed protester Eric Nunez standing in the street flashing a peace symbol while surrounded by police officers, Vicente said.

Funny how the reporter leaves that scenario unexplained. I assume the video shows the guy disobeying a police order to get out of the street.
So far, the city attorney has dismissed eight defendants, juries acquitted six and judges acquitted two. One faces retrial after a jury deadlocked.

"If the Denver Nuggets opened their season with a 1-17 record, people would raise serious questions about what changes needed to be made," Vicente said. . . .

But City Attorney David Fine noted that about 50 of the protesters who were arrested have entered guilty pleas. He also said that a much larger group that took part in the protest was allowed to disperse.

In two trials, Fine added, the juries that acquitted the defendants issued statements essentially praising the behavior of the police and the prosecution.

Fine said those juries also admonished the defendants and said their acquittals should not be interpreted as condoning their behavior.

On Sunday, Vicente filed an open records request, asking Denver officials to estimate how much money and how many hours the police department has spent preparing for and testifying at the trials. He also asked for the amount spent on the prosecution.

He said each trial has lasted an average of three days and involved two to three lawyers from the city attorney's office.

"Is that a good use of time?" he asked. "There's domestic violence cases and rape cases and all sorts of other issues plaguing the city of Denver."
Civic-minded, ain't he?
The People's Law Project recruited 40 lawyers to represent people arrested during the convention and to defend their First Amendment rights.

No comments: