Four Youthful Offenders Appeal Accepted!
We are happy to report that we have finally come to the end of the case of the four youthful offenders. (They participated with 9 adults in a "die-in" at the local military recruiting station in Ithaca, on December 22, 2002 in protest of the impending war in Iraq) On September 3, 2004 Judge M. John Sherman made his decision on our appeal.
Here are the three points that we raised in our appeal: 1) that the elements of the crime of Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree were not proven beyond a reasonable doubt; 2) that our conduct was justified under international law; and 3) that the Youthful Offender statute was improperly utilized to deny us a jury trial. Judge Sherman agreed with us on the first point.
Relative to the claim that the People failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt all of the elements of the crime of Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree, an examination of the record on appeal fails to show any factual basis for the trial court's finding that the area in which defendants were arrested were "fenced or otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders" as required under Penal Law 140.10(a). Mere proof of remaining within a building without permission, without additional proof of the manner in which the building is enclosed to exclude intruders, merely establishes the violation of Trespass under Penal Law 140.05, and is insufficient to establish the crime of Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree.
Accordingly, the judgments are modified with respect to all defendants from an underlying conviction of Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree to a conviction of the violation of Trespass under Penal Law 140.05.
Given the lack of any prior criminal involvement by the defendants, and the non-violent nature of the violation committed, as a matter of discretion in the interest of justice, the judgments are also modified by reducing the sentence from a sentence of four weekends of incarceration to a sentence of unconditional discharge pursuant to Penal Law 65.20.
We are pleased with the outcome of Judge Sherman's decision though we are disappointed that he didn't feel that the other two points were valid enough to address. The idea that we presented insufficient basis for the court to consider international law seems to us a little far fetched.
It is easy now to be tempted to go back to life as usual and forget what we did and why..... but let us not forget. Let us remember the U.S. troops who have died in Iraq whose number is now over 1,000 and steadily continues to rise; the people of Iraq who have suffered and died at the hand of our government; and the people of this country, especially the poor who are the ones most affected when our money and resources (most importantly being our young people) are squandered on war making. And let us not just remember them but let us continue to take concrete actions that affirm peace and justice in this world.
Thank you for all of you support, encouragement and enthusiasm. We are very grateful for the wonderful community of which we are a part. We would love to hear of any actions/projects in which you are involved. Thank you!
Sincerely, Anna Ritter, Ana Grady Flores, Oona GradyDeFlaun and Marie de Mott Grady
"Because we want peace with half a heart, half a life and will, the war making continues. Because the making of war is total - but the making of peace by our cowardice is partial." Father Daniel Berrigan
"There comes a time when silence is betrayal." MLK
"If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in bed with a mosquito." War Resisters' League
"The poor tells us who we are,
The prophets tell us who we could be,
So we hide the poor,
And kill the prophets" - Phil Berrigan