Reducing the Charges to Avoid the Embarassment

We reported this incident last Autumn. We might call this a victory, or we might recognize it for what the prosecutor clearly says: “… we don’t want to put the war machine on trial.”

36 Indian Island protesters have charges dropped to infractions
By Jeff Chew, Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND – A Jefferson County District Court judge on Friday reduced the charges against 36 of those arrested last fall as they blocked the gates to Naval Magazine Indian Island.

Thirty-seven were arrested on Sept. 23 as they gathered at the gates on federal land to protest the Iraq war and the storage of depleted uranium at Indian Island, which is one of the main non-nuclear conventional weapons depots for the Navy’s Pacific fleet.

One of the 37 charged with disorderly conduct – Aldo Sardone, 41, of Seattle – pleaded guilty at his arraignment in October.

The rest pleaded not guilty to the same charge.

On Friday, District Judge Jill Landes dismissed the misdemeanor charges and – based on a motion from the county prosecuting attorney’s office – ruled that the defendants would get lesser infraction citations.

Each defendant was charged with “pedestrian blocking the road,” an infraction punishable by a $76 fine.

The original charge of disorderly conduct carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

Avoid “soapbox trial”

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Todd DeBray said after the hearing that the move was intended to avoid a “soapbox trial.”

“Our office decided to drop the cases to infractions and, at this point, we are not expecting to have anything to do with this case,” DeBray said.

“This took a lot of hours on the part of the Sheriff’s Office.

“At the same time, we don’t want to put the war machine on trial.”

DeBray said that the county prosecutor’s office felt that enough county time had been absorbed by the case.

“The feds didn’t think it was worth their time.”

Read the rest here.

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