Monday, April 26, 2010

Interesting Decisions in Upcoming Trespassing Trial

As you know, last month Chris Smitherman (the president of the Cincinnati branch of the NAACP) and Rev. Dock Foster were arrested for trespassing during a protest outside of a Cincinnati public school construction site. The two--with others--were protesting CPS's under-inclusion of minority contractors in construction bids. At the time, I remarked that Smitherman and Rev. Foster had acted "in the best tradition of the civil rights movement." Griff, as the blog's resident law-and-order conservative, was less enthusiastic.

I had assumed that the arrest was just part one of the pair's protest. I anticipated that the two would ask a jury to find that their actions were justified, much the same way the "Flannery Five" did after being arrested for trespassing at Steve Chabot's office a few years ago.

It looks like I was wrong.

Trials for the two men are now scheduled. Rev. Foster's case has been assigned to Judge Rucker, and is set for May 26. Smitherman's case, assigned to Judge Powers, is set for May 6. Both cases are set for bench trial--that is, trial to the judge. Neither man has filed a jury demand. (In Ohio, one waives the right to a jury trial in a misdemeanor case unless a jury demand is filed at least 10 days prior to trial.)

There's obviously a lot we don't know. Perhaps both have decided to enter a guilty or no-contest plea. Perhaps both have reached plea agreements with the City. Or perhaps both intend to seek a continuance on the trial date. But I'm surprised that neither has (thus far) signaled a desire to air their cause before a jury of their peers.

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