Sunday, January 6, 2008

TOPSY-TURVY (Court update Jan. 4)

The Columbus Day parade protest case against activist Russell Means was on-again, off-again Friday in Denver City and County Court.

Judge Claudia Jordan initially dismissed the case against him because the city failed to show "due diligence" in subpoenaing the arresting officer to appear, and the officer was absent.

The judge later reinstated the case because apparently she could not dismiss the case at a hearing called merely to determine whether certain evidence gathered at the time of arrest should be suppressed.

In addition to reinstating the case, however, she suppressed all evidence against Means, effectively foreclosing any conviction.

Charges were also dropped against arrestees Shannon Francis and Glenn Spagnuolo because the city couldn't determine which police officers arrested them.

The city issued a general accusation of the defense that "they are trying to make this into a media spectacle."

The city's method of issuing subpoenas and the police department's method of complying with them was called into question, and two officers who had received subpoenas still could not appear until mid-afternoon Friday because they said there were sick children at home.

At that time, the officers did identify Glenn Morris, Julie Todd, and Kareena Montoya, so they (and, technically, Russell) will be on trial at 8:30 a.m. January 16 in Courtroom 117M, City and County Building, 1437 Bannock.

Lead defense attorney David Lane was sustained repeatedly over objections by the city during his examination of SWAT officer Tom McKibben, who arrested Julie Todd.

McKibben was questioned about his interaction with Todd, whom he denied calling an obscene name. She didn't talk to him, he said, but was singing "We Shall Overcome."

A wrist-lock--a form of pain compliance--was used to "pull her" apart from others, he said, and she was told that, because of the compliance hold, she could break her hand if she insisted on being carried rather than walking.

McKibben said he didn't know whether Todd heard a bullhorn command he said was repeated three times ordering people to leave the street. He also said he asked her three times, "Are you going to get up and leave?" which, Lane noted, was a question, not an order.

The judge cut off Lane's line of inquiry about evidence showing that the officer did or did not know whether the Columbus Day parade was a "lawful parade," and she denied the motion to suppress the police evidence.


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