[act-ma] MAR 7-8: Rumsfeld Protester Dr. Shaun Joseph ON TRIAL!

Shaun Joseph snjoseph at gmail.com
Sun Mar 3 12:21:26 PST 2013


THURSDAY & FRIDAY, MARCH 7-8, starting 9AM
(Thu: Gather outside Courtroom 10; Fri: Courtroom TBA)
(Green/Orange Line T to Haymarket)
INFO: defendshaun at bostonsocialism.org

ALL SUPPORTERS WELCOME! If you do decide to attend, please keep the
following in mind:

* The trial will last two days. You are welcome to attend as much of
it as you can--but if you can only come once, I recommend the SECOND
day (but see the next point). It is OK if you can only attend for part
of a day. Proceedings will go from 9AM until about 5PM, although the
judge has discretion to adjourn earlier or later.

* On Thursday, an update will be sent out; please be on the lookout
for it, as it will tell you whether the trial is going forward--it may
still be dismissed--and relay any important updates (eg, trial
courtroom). If you would like to receive an update by text message,
send your number to defendshaun at bostonsocialism.org.

* We will gather at Courtroom 10 at 9AM on Thursday to be assigned a
trial room on the sixth floor. If you cannot make this, you may head
up to the sixth floor and try to find us; we should be in one of the
three courtrooms on that floor.

* No cell phones or other electronic devices are permitted in the
courtroom itself, although you will be allowed to carry them into the
building. It is OK for you to step out of the courtroom to use your
phone, go to the restroom, etc--but please limit this, as the bailiff
may eject you if he decides you are causing a distraction.

* You may bring books or other paper-based reading/writing material.
(Indeed, you are encouraged to do so: court proceedings are extremely

* Please maintain good order in court. Anything with a political
message is subject to confiscation by the court.

If you have any other questions, please contact
defendshaun at bostonsocialism.org. Below I reproduce the last two
updates to supporters, which explains the case's background, and how
my "right to speedy trial" has been effectively nullified.


As many of you know, on September 26, 2011--yes, over a year ago--I
was arrested at a protest outside a talk by former Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who was in Boston promoting a memoir of his
achievements, whatever they may be. While attempting to begin a
rational discussion with a police officer who was forcibly pulling a
bullhorn from a comrade's hand, I was seized without warning from
behind by a police officer, thrown into the street, handcuffed, and
taken to jail. Like most people who are assaulted by the police, I was
charged with "assault and battery on a police officer" and "resisting
arrest." You are welcome to judge for yourself whether these
allegations are true, as the entire arrest was captured on video by

Arrest at Donald Rumsfeld Book Signing Boston

For extra credit, attempt to identify the "karate chop like manaveur
[sic]" that Sgt. David L. O'Connor alleges that I used on him. If you
can see it, you may have a future in the Boston Police Department--or
even the Office of the District Attorney.

All jokes aside, I hope it is clear that I am totally innocent of the
charges, and that this arrest and prosecution are entirely political
in nature. If convicted on either charge, I could be imprisoned for up
to 2.5 years. A conviction could endanger my career as a computer
scientist, even though I have a doctoral degree in this field.

As anyone can tell from the video evidence, bringing this case to
trial is almost comical example of prosecutorial slavishness towards
the police. Several thousand dollars of taxpayer money have been (and
will be) wasted in an increasingly ridiculous attempt to not
"officially" admit that Sgt. O'Connor is a liar. The Assistant
District Attorney prosecuting the case has tried to avoid going to
trial by offering me some so-called "good deals." Her final offer [but one],
made in August, was three-month probation retroactive to the date of
the arrest; that is, my probation would have been over literally
before it began! Truly, the law is a powerful force.

However, I refuse to be put "on probation," even in the most vacuous
sense, for crimes I did not commit. I turned down this "deal," and
instead of doing the logical thing and dismissing the case, the ADA
lurches ever-forward into a trial.

Why? Am I dangerous? Do I deserve to be punished? The prosecution was
perfectly happy to let me walk free and without material penalty--but
only by playing their game, escaping only by a route that would allow
them to claim that their system worked. The trial, rather than a
process that determines the truth of the charges, becomes itself a
form of punishment for the "crime" of not making a deal.

While I understand completely why people--even innocent people--make
deals with prosecutors, I strongly agree with Michelle Alexander that
refusing to do so can be a form of resistance. If even a modest
percentage of the accused did so, the legal system would grind to a
halt (not that it proceeds much quicker than a halt at present).


Friends, unfortunately my trial--on charges already well over a year
old--has been delayed to March 7, 2013. If you were planning to attend
court today, tomorrow, or Friday, there is now no need. My sincerest
apologies to those of you will be inconvenienced by this extraordinary
delay caused by the District Attorney's latest display of
incompetence; and my deepest apologies and thanks to the many who came
out to support me today.

Today's experience may be worth recounting for those of you who--like
me before this incident--have not experienced the "workings" of of the
judicial system first hand. It may also be amusing even for those who

I first suspected something was amiss when Susan Terrey, the chief
prosecutor, walked by my lawyer and me on the way into the courthouse.

"Hi," said Ms. Terrey to my lawyer, "It's tomorrow, right?"

"No, today," replied my lawyer.

"Oh...OK," replied Ms. Terrey.

Now I happen to know that prosecutors deal with a lot of cases, both
because a lot of things are needlessly criminalized, and because they
seem to think it's their job to uphold police lies and misconduct, no
matter how absurd. But surely they are expected to keep track of when
they are actually supposed to try a case? Apparently not--for as I've
been discovering, a defendant's notional right to a speedy trial is
always in practice trumped by prosecutor excuses and the "slack" that
judges are always willing to cut the state (but never the defense).

In a courtroom packed to overflowing with people charged mainly with
drug offenses, Judge Annette Forde dealt "swift justice" to defendants
who, for whatever reason--traffic? kids? work? using the
bathroom?--missed their call-up, issuing warrants and seizing their
bail. Yet when my case came up, and Ms. Terrey announced that the
prosecution wasn't ready because one of their police witnesses had
"childcare issues," suddenly the burden was on us to explain why the
state shouldn't be given another three months to, I guess, help a
policeman find a babysitter.

Finding decent childcare is indeed a difficult problem in our society,
but I find it difficult to believe that, in the first place, a
well-paid police officer couldn't manage it with three months' advance
notice. (The trial date was confirmed by both sides on September 5.)
More importantly: what would Judge Forde have said if we had asked to
delay the trial with the same excuse? It's not hard to guess.

My lawyer moved to dismiss the case because the prosecution didn't
have it's act together, despite having over a year to prepare. This
was denied by Judge Forde, who commented with righteous distaste:
"This young man struck a police officer!" Now for those of you playing
along at home, you will recall that this is precisely the matter at
issue at trial. Thus Judge Forde seems to have decided to allow a
delay in my trial on the basis of (false) allegations that can only be
legally established...at the trial. Once again we see that a trial is,
under our present noble system of "justice," not a means of
determining the truth of allegations, but itself a kind of punishment
for the "crime" of having allegations against you.

One silver lining in this otherwise very gray cloud: Judge Forde did
grant our request that there be no continuances after March 7.
Therefore if the state remains unready in March, the case will be
automatically dismissed.

For what it's worth, the prosecution offered me the same "deal" as
last time; and, like last time, I refused it. Maybe they thought they
had worn me down? Alas, my determination to outlast them, to drag them
however slowly to the point where they have no choice but to concede
my total innocence, is more impenetrable than ever.

Thank you all again for your support.

More information about the Act-MA mailing list