8/27 A Rough Day In Court

As we approach 3 years of dealing with this case we had been hoping to see an end in the near future. Going in to today’s hearing many of us felt somewhat optimistic and curious to see how the defense attorneys’ motions would be heard. I write now with weight and frustration and some indignation.

Under Department 6’s new Judge, Stephen Seigel, SC11 defense attorney’s saw each of their motions denied and then were met with the reality that the soonest possible trial date for all parties is next July. With other cases, out of town trips, and prosecutor Greg Peinado going on paternity leave early next year, the next court date the remaining 4 have is trial readiness on July 22nd, 2015, with trial set to begin on the 27th. This will be over 3 and a half years after the occupation of 75 River St. 

There were a lot of things said in court and a more involved update will be written soon. There are a lot of things that feel wrong about this case and the length of time it is taking, the cumulative toll on the defendants as well as the cost to tax payers are sitting heavy today. 

If you are a friend to any of the defendants you may want to reach out and show some personal support. They may or may not specifically need or ask for it, and all the better to receive a gift when not in need. Our heads are high and our sights are on what feels right and true: the ending of this case; not forgetting that Wells Fargo is one of the most disgusting companies in this country and does not deserve money from our community; that Bob Lee is politically and economically motivated in this biased prosecution; that no matter what happens the courts and cops cannot touch out hearts. We will continue to support each other, to dream of better, healthier ways to live, and to try to put those dreams on the ground here in our lives and communities. heart moss

We had a Parade!

Thanks to all who came out and followed the money and Bob Lee around downtown. It was a lot of fun! We handed out a few hundred fliers and made lots of people smile. Parades are so awesome!

Come out in Support tomorrow in court!

Here we go again! The remaining defendants of the SC11 are back in court tomrrow, Wendesday morning at 9 am in Department 6 (though you may have heard 8:15am).

This hearing will focus on the defense motions against Bob Lee and the Santa Cruz District Attorney’s office accusing bias in this case. There are multiple motions for recusal arguing different perspectives. It seemed likely that a new trial date would be chosen depending on the outcome of the motions. All of this is exciting stuff is happening under a new Judge! Judge Stephen Siegel is now presiding over the SC11 case as the Santa Cruz County Court system underwent it’s usual Department shift (link to the Sentinel article about the hearing with Wells Fargo regarding Bob Lee’s finances). 

Judge Stephen Siegel

Judge Siegel is rumored to be good and if his first remarks regarding this case are a taste of what is to come, we can’t feel too bad for the change. We imagine Paul Burdick is happy to be rid of this mess.

Let’s show Judge Siegel the community is watching and show our friends they are not alone!

Join us on the 22nd as we Parade for the SC 11!

aug 27th parade2It’s that time again, time to come out and play! SC 11 Parade number 2!

August 22nd at 4pm meet us in the parking lot behind the Saturn Cafe as we Follow the Money from Wells Fargo to Bob Lee!

Dress in green and made up dollar costumes, wear your “I was in the building” shirts, bring noise makers and props, the more theatrical the better. We’ll have fliers to hand out as we play in the streets spreading the word about the case. Come show your support as we continue to call out DROP THE CHARGES!

DROP THE CHARGES! the joy of the parade!

https://www.facebook.com/SantaCruzEleven

Bob Lee says one thing and does another

Bob-Lee2-104x150 Santa Cruz District Attorney Bob Lee’s office has been accused by Santa Cruz attorneys of bias based on his financial relationship to Wells Fargo, the plaintiff in the SC 11 case. This comes in stark contrast to his statement to the Mercury News (below) regarding the influence of money and private relationships in court proceedings. Bob hasn’t come out and shared his relationship to Wells Fargo, or made any public comment on the Santa Cruz 11 case as the years and cost to taxpayers add up.

“The last thing I want is the appearance of influence or bias, so I would never give consideration or a break to a donor or a friend,” said Santa Cruz County District Attorney Bob Lee. “We just firewall it. If someone has a problem, they should go to the prosecutor’s supervisor like everyone else.”

http://www.mercurynews.com/search/ci_13665332?IADID=Search-www.mercurynews.com-www.mercurynews.com

Finding frustration and fighting fear

On August 27th the remaining SC11 defendants return to court as Judge Burdick hears evidence of DA Bob Lee’s financial connection to Wells Fargo and other arguments of bias against the DA’s office. We encourage signs and actions of support leading up to the 27th, and hope you will join us in court as the next phase of this drama unfolds.

The Santa Cruz 11 case is perhaps the only remaining large open case stemming from the Occupy movement. Almost three years after the original action the case is still without a set trial date and serious motions by Defense attorneys remain unaddressed. Questions that have plagued radical movements for decades sit with us as we wait.

What does justice look like? How do we create a healthier society through our actions? Do people care? Is this worth it? 

Spending even a little bit of time in a courthouse you get a picture of how the State uses a myriad of tactics to find quick and profitable outcomes to cases. Behind many options are the questions “Do you really want to put in the energy to see this case through? Wouldn’t it just be easier to end it now?” Innocence and evidence end up meaning less than the toll it takes to fight your charges or the fear of the State’s threats.

Listening to the judgments and deals made with District Attorneys you also get a sense of how much weight money gets in this “justice” system. Often enough if people just pay the fine offered by the DA the details of the charges, what happened and why, lose meaning. One almost hears the sound of a cash register as person after person is ordered to pay and then passed on to probation.

In the SC11 case we can’t help feeling frustrated that things are still unresolved. If you have not been in the position of awaiting trial, it is often an extremely debilitating experience. How can one plan one’s life when at some unknown point in the possibly near future they might have a trial that takes up all their time for weeks? How can one plan one’s life when they don’t know if they will be in jail, up to their neck in fines, or tied to court dates that are imposed by other peoples’ schedules? The psychological effects of our judicial system have been proven to be traumatizing and this is speaking only of the internal affects. The pressure to take a deal and to get things over with builds as time goes, and the public tends to forget any sense of “innocent until proven guilty” putting the blame for the drawn out case on defendants. It takes courage in our political and criminal climate to fight charges.

Viewed in a certain light our society is pervasively motivated by fear. Fear of being wrong. Fear of difference. Fear of punishment. Fear of not belonging. Each interaction with law enforcement carries the threat of batons, tazers, guns, courts, jails, prison. It takes incredible integrity to remain true to oneself when faced with these threats. What would happen if we started giving each other space to stand without fear? What would happen if we could identify when we are afraid, communicate our vulnerability and from that place of connection seek resolution and actions that serve not just ourselves but differing communities? We hope that the Santa Cruz 11 case can be a source of inspiration and an opportunity to challenge ourselves to step out from behind our fear. We hope that it can be a part of us asking ourselves, does this makes sense? And if not, what can I do about it?

As most other Occupy cases are closed and as our County faces drought and other serious issues, the SC11 case just feels absurd. Hundred of thousands of taxpayer dollars have been spent by the City in efforts of saving face and making Wells Fargo some pocket change all the while keeping our community members in this place of waiting. The DA’s office has been unwilling to budge from the over $25,000 restitution amount even when their own police department estimates that over 150 people were involved in the occupation of 75 River. Is this about “right and wrong”? About money? Or about power? The relationship between money and power is clear in the courthouse and in City Hall with Wells Fargo as a perfect example of how prioritization is given to certain economic positions. Recently news of the bank’s policy of forging foreclosure documents has been made public and while court proceedings regarding those actions are underway Wells Fargo is still evicting people and profiting as the most successful bank in this country.

We who live in Sanatural-bridges-beachnta Cruz are responsible for creating the culture we live in. We can remain strangers and potential criminals to each other, or we can live in good faith and see each other’s struggles as our own. We must make up our own minds about what makes sense, and listen to our own hearts about what feels right. May we live connected to the land we live on, to the people we live with and to ourselves and our truths.

Yours in commitment to the hard work,

Friends of the Santa Cruz 11

Surprise move by Defense Attorneys – Post hearing update

 

“The show must go on” and on and on and on.

Never failing to be surprising the Santa Cruz 11 case saw yet another interesting turn of events. With Judge Burdick still in place presiding over the case after the DA’s office attempt to recuse him, it seemed that the hearing on Tuesday would leave us with a new trail date. However the defense attorneys have been busy and filed a motion to recuse the Santa Cruz District Attorney’s office from the case based on bias stemming from DA Bob Lee’s financial relationship to the “victim” of the case Wells Fargo.

The motion casts doubt as to whether or not it is fair for the DA’s office to be hearing the case and delays the trial again as the motion is dealt with. It is likely that the DA’s office will request a specific hearing challenging the validity of the claim as it would look pretty darn bad on mister Bob Lee’s report card to have this claim on public record. Perhaps this move will motivate him to either get involved with the case and authorize a reasonable solution, or at the very least detach himself from the case and give prosecutor Greg Peinado the ability to move the case along.

Due to the lack of clarity as to who will be trying to the case in trial, a trial date was not set.

A pre-trial hearing was scheduled for August 27th where the motions will be heard. There was also an earlier date or two scheduled to address motions filed by individual attorneys. Besides the main recusal motion aforementioned there are numerous other motions on the table from the defense including a separate motion to recuse the DA’s office for their poor handling of the case.

Judge Burdick made a number of public remarks regarding his opinion and is clearly trying to find a way to end the case. He said it was “too old” and it was clearly in everyone’s best interest (the court, the defendants, the DAs office and the public) for a resolution to be found. He also said that the only way the four defendants could be help responsible for the total amount of alleged damages (above or around $20,000) would be if they were proven to be the leaders who directly enabled unnamed others to enter the building and subsequently damage it. Defense attorney Jesse Ruben responded by acknowledging that the Occupy movement from which this case comes from (Burdick actually called the case “the occupy case”) clearly identifies itself as leaderless.

The topic of restitution was a big one and the subject of at least one pending defense motion. The DA’s office argues that the total damages should be split between the four defendants while the defense attorneys site the police department’s estimate that there were 150-200 people involved and argue that the total should be divided by that number. The different being thousands or hundreds of dollars. Burdick seems somewhere in the middle. Attorneys and the Judge met off record to discuss a potential deal that would involve a misdemeanor plea, three years informal probation and a cap of restitution at $1,250 each. This has not been offered yet and it remains to be seen what, if any, deal defendants would take.

It is worth mentioning again how absurd this whole process is. Hundreds of people took over an unused and ostensibly empty bank building, occupied it for a few days then cleaned up and left peaceably. Wells Fargo, the most profitable bank in the US, hired out of town businesses to drive in from over the hill to clean up and encouraged them to boost their costs. They claim over $25,000 of damages. The City of Santa Cruz asked for public help to identify participants in the occupation and eventually charged 11 people with the four original offenses including felony conspiracy. Over two and half years later there are 4 defendants facing two charges and the tax payers of Santa Cruz have funded a case that has cost well over $100,000. The DA’s office has already been sanctioned for failing to follow court orders and now Bob Lee’s relationship to Wells Fargo casts clarity as to why things are where they are at.

drop-all-charges-now_2-11-14

Over and over we’ll say it. Enough is enough. DROP THE CHARGES!