Friends and Courtwatchers,
With trial about to commence on the following day and a witness already on a plane bound for the Twin Cities, the two parties struck a last-minute deal after hours of hard bargaining in the hallways of the Ramsey County Courthouse.
The prosecutor arrived in court with an offer to drop the charge of assaulting a police officer and reduce the charge of obsturcting the legal process to a misdemeanor. The defense tried to get that charge dropped to a petty misdemeanor, since, after all, the bike cop crashed into Elliot, not the other way around.
The prosecutor maintained that Elliot was at fault for "not getting out of the way." According to Prosecutor Steve Christie, there was a crowd of protestors marching in the street, off the permitted route. A group of bike cops rode through the street, yelling at everyone to get out of the way. According to the prosecutor, Elliot could have gotten out of the way but he didn't, so he was at fault for "obstructing the legal process." This is the same man who prosecuted a street medic for helping a man in a wheelchair who had been pepper-sprayed by the police. On that occasion, Mr. Christie told the court that the man in the wheelchair deserved to be pepper-sprayed "because he was there" on the street corner after the police had ordered the area to be cleared. So there is obviously no end to the infamy in which he is prepared to engage, or to the silly charges he is willing to prosecute in court.
Elliot agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of "obstructing the legal process" when the prosecution agreed that the charge would be "continued for dismissal." This means that if Elliot stays out of trouble for a year, the charge will be "vacated" or removed from his record. This would leave Elliot with a clean record. Observers speculated that the prosecutor now has to go back to the City Office and explain this leniency -- it doesn't seem to have been a part of the original offer.
When asked if he had anything to say, Elliot told the judge that he was exercising his free speech rights. The judge agreed that "The First Amendment is still in force" but gently suggested that there were "smarter ways" for Elliot to protest. She gave him a reduced fine ($150), due to his economic status, but she insisted that he must pay it himself, not ask his parents to pay it. She also gave him a minimal Community Service sentence(50 hours), as she was impressed with the amount of volunteering he already does. The prosecution, however, insisted that Elliot do Community Service somewhere other than the places he normally volunteers at. So Elliot went down to the Probation Office, where they promised to "fix him up with something."
Elliot reasons that he did about as well as did the nuns who went through the fence at the Xcel Center to protest the war at the Republican National Convention.
He regretted not getting to see all his friends in court, but he is relieved not to have to go to trial.
Thanks to all of you who stood by Elliot and were prepared to go to court with him if necessary.
Courtwatch Working Group
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