Jury Selected for NATO 3, Trial Set to Begin Next Tuesday

Today, the final jury members were selected for the NATO 3 trial. *The trial itself is scheduled to begin next Tuesday, January 21st at 11am in Courtroom 606 at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse, 2650 South California Avenue.* We are encouraging everyone to pack the courtroom for the NATO 3 starting next Tuesday! We also have solidarity t-shirts available online now! https://www.wepay.com/stores/freethenato3

While the new t-shirts are exciting, there is unfortunately an elaborate and daunting process to be able to attend the trial. *Anyone* who wants to attend the trial *at any point*, regardless of whether for one hour or the entire trial, *must* register in advance in the lobby of the courthouse from 2-5pm on any day the courthouse is open. Each person must provide a state-issued photo ID and subject themselves to a background check for warrants and orders of protection against anyone involved in the trial. People with open warrants will be taken into custody. See the Sheriff Office's full announcement of spectator regulations, which we posted on our website: http://freethenato3.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/church-chase-betterly-sp....

We received some additional clarification on how this policy will work:

* Everyone must register once and submit to a background check. Registration can only be done from 2-5pm when the courthouse is open and must be done the day before the first time somone wishes to attend the trial.

* Once approved to be a spectator, each spectator must sign up the day before they wish to view the trial.

* Each day, seating will be made available to registered spectators who signed up the day before on a first-come, first-served basis. All spectators must be in their seats 20 minutes before the start of trial in the morning.

* Registered spectators who did not sign up the day before will be given seats on a first-come, first-served basis if there are seats left after all the spectators who signed up the day before have been given seats.

* Spectators who attend court one day and wish to return the next will need to sign-up for that day during the 2-5pm window on the day they are in court.

Our understanding is that this process is still in the works, so there may be additional changes in the future. For now, we are urging everyone interested in attending the trial to *register tomorrow from 2-5pm*! We expect the opening statements on Tuesday to be fully packed with media and the public, so please register tomorrow and get to the courthouse as early as possible on Tuesday morning!

The courthouse itself bans electronic devices, including cell phones, and other items. We encourage everyone who attends to read these policies thoroughly: http://www.cookcountycourt.org/HOME/CellPhoneElectronicDeviceBan.aspx. Storage lockers for cell phones and other small items can be rented at the courthouse and usually from vendors outside the courthouse for a few dollars.

Finally, the judge will be issuing a trial decorum order that lists the prohibited behaviors and items in the courtroom during trial. We will post this when we have it. We expect it to ban any visible displays of solidarity for the defendants, ranging from verbal statements to gestures to t-shirts to signs to buttons. We ask all supporters to follow all the judge's orders closely, as not doing so could negatively impact the defendants as well as lead to contempt of court charges for the person found to be violating the orders.

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Comments

Obviously they are trying to scare people away and create as many obstacles and outright dangers as they can to those who attend the trial. The restrictions on attendance seem deliberately chosen to violate the right of the accused to have their peers witness the trial by being chosen to target as many who would be sympathetic to the accused as possible. Assuming there there is any legal right to a public trial this whole mess could be used at appeal to argue that fair trial rights were violated. For instance, it could be used for an allegation of judicial bias against the defendant. The precedent here would be the Vietnam era Chicago 7 case, where defendants baited the judge, then used the resulting bias and reversible errors to get the guilty verdict thrown out on appeal.

A related question is this: have there been any attempts to intimidate or deter defense WITNESSES from showing up?

Years ago, I saw a lesser version of this court's "intimidate the public" tactic in the failed attempt to railroad an animal rights protester for APO shortly after 9/11, in a Virginia courtroom. A second checkpoint was set up just outside the courtroom but laws there must not have allowed demands for ID, preregistration, etc. Everyone wore black and sat in silence, until the prosecution managed to exclude the videotape proving the cops were lying. At that point, one woman stood up and shouted to the jury about the tape. Not wanting a mistrial, the prosecution did not move for a mistrial, and lost the case. Jury verdict was acquital on all felonies, a misdemenaor conviction with a no jail time recommendation binding on the judge. The woman whose sacrifice play won the day was also acquitted on charges of "disorderly conduct."

There is another countermeasure to this, but the NATO 3 defense team should decide for themselves whether or not it is to be used. That would be a call for all who are refused for attendance, do not have ID, or otherwise can't get into the building to have a noisy support rally outside the courthouse with the intenton of being the biggest possible pain in the ass.

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