Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cost to prosecute DNC protesters: $19,000

The Post:
The city and county of Denver has spent more than $19,000 and used 316 hours of police officer time to prosecute people who were arrested during a protest on the first night of the Democratic National Convention.

The estimate does not include time and costs for 10 trials held this week and last week, said Brian Vicente, executive director of the People's Law Project, who requested the data from the city and provided it to The Denver Post. . . .

Of 33 convention cases that have gone to trial for clients represented by the People's Law Project, 27 cases were dismissed or the defendant was acquitted, five people were convicted and one person pleaded to a deferred judgment, Vicente said.
Five convictions? Given Denver juries' record for (not) convicting even people who clearly try to stop others from exercising their First Amendment rights (Columbus Day protests), that's not bad. And as a commenter points out, Denver got $50 million for the DNC; they can probably afford to throw some spare change at these prosecutions.

Update: The Rocky's Bill Johnson interviews a jury member for one of the trials:

It was time to chat with a juror. Past due time, actually, since I believe that outside of the judges overseeing these convention-protest trials, no one's time has been more wasted. . . .

What most surprised me was that he was on one of the Democratic National Convention trials at all. Over the past dozen years, he has called often, regaling my voice mail with stories of his social activism and generally giving me his take on what I have written on a particular day.

"I have been in numerous demonstrations," he said Friday, the first time in all those years that we have actually chatted. Included in them was the "small act of civil disobedience" at an AIDS conference in San Francisco in the early '90s where he and others actually blocked an entrance. . . .

Given his background, the defense "saw me as sympathetic to its cause," he said. "What saved me with the prosecution was my saying civil disobedience has its place, but you need to be prepared to face the consequences."

The consequences for the three cases his jury decided on? One conviction, two acquittals. Very weird.

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