City Attorney Carmen Trutanich wants toteach Occupy L.A. a lessonabout the First Amendment. But as the first wave of failure-to-disperse cases goes to court, the Occupiers are teaching him about the Sixth Amendment.
That's the one that guarantees a speedy trial, as well as the right to confront witnesses. The Occupiers are refusing to waive those rights, which has led to a slew of dismissals.
So far, 11 cases have been thrown out -- mostly due to insufficient evidence. Occupy court-watchers say that prosecutors are having a hard time tracking down their witnesses and getting their paperwork together in time to proceed with jury trials.
"It seems like everything is going in favor of the Occupiers," said Patti Beers, an Occupy legal observer.
In the wake of the Nov. 30 raid on the Occupy L.A. camp, Trutanich filed 50 misdemeanor cases. Most of those demonstrators wanted to be arrested, so the cases should be relatively easy to prove.
But so far, according to the City Attorney's Office, Trutanich's prosecutors have obtained three convictions, all via plea deals. Another two cases were deferred for six months. At the same time, seven cases were dismissed for lack of evidence, and another four were dropped in exchange for pleas to probation violations. The rest are pending.
There have been paperwork problems. On Tuesday, a judge dismissed the case against activist Martha Lewis. According to Patti Beers, who attended the trial, Lewis' public defender argued that the arresting officer should not be allowed to testify because his name had not been turned over to the defense beforehand. The deputy city attorney objected, but the judge sided with the defense and threw out the case.
Some Occupy activists, believe Trutanich rushed to file charges in order to make a political statement.
ALSO - MORE GREAT reporting from LA Dragnet blog on this Occupy/Trutanich issue -- with FURTHER coverage of D.A. race and his chances going DOWNHILL in the Valley, if not already TOAST/THE "ANYONE BUT" CANDIDATE.
EXCERPT: Proving, once again, that he can talk the talk, but cannot walk the walk, the formerambulance chaser plaintiff's attorney turned career politician appears to be responsible for a screw up of biblical proportions, due to his failure to understand that the law requires a prosecution within a set time frame; the so-called Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. In simple terms he was not prepared, was not ready, did not have witnesses and was missing paperwork. The cases were dismissed because despite all of Trutanich's tough talk, he screwed up.
Trutanich's screw up is so fundamental that it will likely undermine whatever little credibility he had with the City Council, who he was going to 'advise' aboutsuing and bankrupting the Occupy LA protesters. The seeds of doubt about Trutanich's credibility were sown not so long ago when he deliveredhis infamous 'criminal aspects' speech. The promised investigation into the crimes Trutanich implied were committed by AEG in their handling of the Michael Jackson memorial, went on for a year at untold cost, and then quietly went away with no word from the self-proclaimed 'tough guy' of City Hall.
Unlike the'criminal aspects' scandal, the collapse of the Occupy LA protest cases came more quickly than Trutanich may have expected. When the 'criminal aspects' investigation collapsed, most Los Angelenos couldn't even remember what all the fuss was about. But the situation is markedly different with the Occupy LA protesters, and the public humiliation of the City Attorney's Office due to it's poor leadership, will not be quickly forgotten.