A retired Arlington, Va. librarian convicted of laughing at Trump's Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III just won a new trial. Hearing set for September 1.
Full confession: At the July 5, 2017 St. Augustine Beach City Commission meeting, I laughed at something fake ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH MAYOR RICHARD BURTT O'BRIEN SAID, whereupon he thrice asked from the dais, "is there a problem, Mr. Slavin?" I was taking notes, and laughed at effrontery.
Note to Mayor O'Brien: we're Americans, in America. We have a First and Ninth Amendment right to to laugh. To the crass cruel classless authoritarians, ninnies, boobies and dodgy, vain, corrupt officials who would arrest someone for First Amendment protected activity in St. Johns County, Florida: you're unAmerican.
Retrial Ordered for Activist Who Laughed During Sessions Confirmation
By CHRISTOPHER MELE
JULY 14, 2017
The New York TIMES
A judge on Friday ordered a retrial in the case of a Code Pink activist who was arrested after she laughed during Jeff Sessions’s confirmation hearing for attorney general, officials said.
The woman, Desiree A. Fairooz, 61, of Bluemont, Va., was one of three demonstrators affiliated with the women-led activist group prosecuted in connection with the Jan. 10 hearing. All three had rejected a plea deal and demanded to go to trial. They were convicted by a jury in May.
In an April court filing, federal prosecutors had argued that the protesters shared a common goal to “impede and disrupt” the hearing and Ms. Fairooz had “created a scene.”
It was early in the hearing when Senator Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama, said Mr. Sessions’s record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented.”
On hearing that, Ms. Fairooz said, she let out a giggle. Prosecutors cast it differently and said in a filing that she “let out a loud burst of laughter, followed by a second louder burst of laughter.”
As she was escorted away, Ms. Fairooz loudly asked, “Why am I being taken out of here?” and referred to Mr. Sessions’s voting record as “evil.”
Federal prosecutors argued at the trial that her laughter alone was strong enough grounds for a conviction, but Judge Robert E. Morin of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia was not convinced.
If the conviction was based on the laughter alone, the judge would not have let it go to the jury, Samuel A. Bogash, the lawyer for Ms. Fairooz, said on Friday.
Neither prosecutors nor defense lawyers asked jurors specifically about the basis for the conviction. The judge was uncertain if they had convicted her based on the laughter alone or on the disruption she caused as she was being escorted away, Mr. Bogash said, adding that no charges were dismissed.
Both sides will be back in court on Sept. 1 to discuss scheduling.
William Miller, a spokesman for the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, declined to comment because the case is pending.
Ms. Fairooz said she was disappointed and expressed disbelief that federal officials had dedicated so much time and energy to prosecuting her. “I think they have more important things to spend taxpayer money on than me laughing,” she said.
Medea Benjamin, a founder of Code Pink, said her group rarely had seen demonstrators prosecuted the way they were in this case.
“The only thing more ridiculous than being tried for laughing is to be tried twice for laughing,” she said. “That this has been prosecuted in such a determined way to us is an indication of a crackdown on dissent that didn’t exist before.”
The other protesters, Tighe Barry and Lenny Bianchi, were dressed as Ku Klux Klan members with white hoods and robes and stood up before the hearing started. They were acquitted on a count of disorderly conduct but were convicted on charges of parading or demonstrating.
Mr. Barry and Mr. Bianchi were each sentenced to 10 days in jail with the time suspended on the condition that they successfully complete six months of unsupervised probation, Mr. Miller said in an email. They were ordered to stay away from the Russell Senate Building for six months, though Mr. Barry was allowed in for business purposes only.