Lawyer Calls on DA to Drop Charges Against Occupy Wall Street Protesters
By DNAinfo Staff on October 17, 2011 6:10pm
By Shayna Jacobs and Olivia Scheck
MANHATTAN — A lawyer representing many of the protesters who were arrested or given summonses in connection with the Occupy Wall Street protests met with prosecutors Monday, calling on them to dismiss all but the most serious cases.
Defense attorney Martin Stolar, of the National Lawyers Guild, said he asked the Manhattan District Attorney's Office to dismiss all desk appearance tickets and summonses stemming from the protests, during a meeting at the courthouse Monday afternoon.
There are roughly 750 such cases with the vast majority for disorderly conduct, according to Stolar.
He did not ask for dismissals in other more serious cases for which criminal charges had been filed, he said.
Stolar said that crowd control cases are often very hard to prosecute and trying them in court would place an unreasonable burden the DA's office and the court system.
"We think it's foolish to engage in the exercise of trying about 750 cases where people are insisting on their right to trial and believe they are innocent of any of the charges that have been laid against them," Stolar said.
The DA's office, however, declared that each case would be considered on its own merit.
"Every arrest that comes into the DA’s Office is assessed individually, and charging decisions are based on the evidence and circumstances unique to each case and defendant,” DA spokeswoman Erin Duggan said in an email.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg slammed reports that those who were arrested might try to jam the court system by demanding full trials unless charges were dismissed.
"I don't think our court system should be a political football," Bloomberg told reporters at a press conference Monday in Queens. "I think it's hard to reconcile that with what America stands for, to say we're going to deliberately keep our court system from working."
Prosecutors also held a separate meeting Monday with Kaylee Dedrick, a protester who was allegedly pepper sprayed by a high-ranking NYPD officer.
Dedrick's lawyer, Ron Kuby, criticized the DA's office for not filing charges against the officer, identified as Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, who was allegedly caught on video spraying Dedrick and others in the penned-in crowd.
"The video on its face makes out a case for third degree assault," Kuby insisted on his way out of the meeting. "Had this been anyone other than a deputy police inspector, that person would have [already] been arrested [and] prosecuted."
Kuby called for a third-degree misdemeanor assault charge to be filed against Bologna immediately, while the DA's office continues to investigate other potential infractions.
The DA's office declined to comment on the matter.
Roughly 500 people have been arrested, according to the DA. More than 200 additional people have been given summonses, according to Stolar. The summonses are handled by the city but not by the DA's Office.
A class action lawsuit was filed earlier this month on behalf of protesters who were arrested during an Oct. 1 demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge. That suit claims that police entrapped the protesters, escorting them onto the bridge and then arresting them without adequate warning.