On the evening of 3-5-13 as City of Olympia officials debated the fate of civil rights for the homeless, Alex Daye, Peter Bohmer, and several others (including Dillingham and Russel) were arrested for ‘trespassing’ in an act of solidarity and civil disobedience to an unjust City ordinance essentially criminalizing the homeless who had nowhere to go.
In the ensuing months, TESC professor Peter Bohmer entered a negotiated plea to ‘tresspass’ (the phony charge of ‘assaulting’ a police officer was summarily dismissed) in exchange for a deferred prosecution providing he had no further arrests over the following 12 months.
The trial set for 11-18-13 in Thurston’s District Court for 6 remaining defendants, who refused anything less than a jury trial on the tresspass charges against them, was preceded by the preliminary matters recorded in this 11-4-13 clip. The proceedings lasted a total of perhaps 20 minutes. Judge Buckley presided. Each defendant had a separate attorney but their matters had all been joined for a single trial since each of the 6 (remaining) had refused to negotiate a plea or accept a bench trial.
Some discussion with the court was had regarding objections lodged by the State such as the number of peremptory challenges the defense would be allowed (normally 3) during jury selection. The prosecution wanted ‘parity’, i.e. an equal number of peremptory challenges for itself (18) as the TOTAL Judge Buckley decided the defense was entitled to (3 per party), thereby limiting the State to 3 rather than the 18 they sought. The court also vacillated momentarily before electing to allow each defendant’s attorney 30 minutes of questioning the jury panel during voir dire (for a total of 3 hours) while emphasizing it wasn’t requiring each counsel to use that maximum and hinting it would be pleased in the interest of expediency if they did not.
Judge Buckley entered bench warrants for 2 no-shows (Dillingham and Russel) despite one attorney’s attempt to excuse their absence by dint of a misunderstanding as to their required attendance. The judge would have none of it, smiled wryly, and entered a bench warrant for their arrest and a $2,500 bail requirement for their release. Les Ching, a one time city prosecutor and now defense counsel in private practice looked subdued and annoyed during the proceeding. When his client’s name was called, he had no explanation for his absence and admitted he had no means of communicating with him (Dillingham) except by e-mail. When the judge issued a bench warrant for his client’s arrest, Les asked the court for permission to withdraw from the case and it was granted. A best guess is Les may have been representing Dillingham pro bono. In any event, he looked unhappy as he took his leave from the courtroom.
One defendant whispered in this reporter’s ear during the proceedings. Apparently some hallway discussion between the defendants and their counsel had been had regarding his presence. An online discussion had precipitated an earlier thinly veiled threat by Alex Daye to prevent the photojournalist from covering the trial under the pretext of summoning him as a witness since he had been present during the arrests, camera in hand. When the reporter responded reasonable notice was required, the whispered rejoinder was that the trial had been ‘bumped’ (to the 18th) and there was plenty of time to provide such notice, but the group had decided to ‘allow’ the photojournalist to cover the trial instead. Since the anticipated defense rested on an appeal to principles of civil disobedience rather than on procedural/factual ones, the choice was well considered given that public appeals to principles of civil disobedience fall on deaf ears if they are not heard! Further footage will be gathered and posted here during the anticipated 2-day trial to begin 11-18-13.
Well written John. If only there were more reporters like yourself, we would actually know what’s going on in this world.