October 25, 2005

Redbud Trial Held

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Yesterday’s hearing on trespassing violations stemming from the “Redbud Eight”‘s April occupation of the office of former President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77 adjourned without resolution yesterday.

Presiding Judge Judith A. Rossiter said no ruling would be released yesterday.

Patrick Young ’06, one of the defendants, said that the eight’s legal counsel had said a verdict was unlikely today.

“Our lawyers told us it will probably be a couple of days, if not a couple weeks,” he said.

The other defendants were Amelia Apfel ’08, Laura McIntyre ’08, Ethan Middlebrooks ’07, Kjirsten Alexander ’07, Sun columnist Danny Pearlstein ’05, Daisy Torres ’05 and Jordan Wells ’07.

Susan Murphy ’74, vice president of student and academic services, and Curtis S. Ostrander, director of the Cornell University Police Department, testified about their involvement in negotiating with and removing the students, as did Mark Cappello, who was the acting event manager for the week of the sit-in.

Murphy testified that she had asked District Attorney George Dentes ’76 for differential treatment for those who signed the July 18 agreement between the University and the Redbud Woods Working Group.

Cappello testified that his role was to “interface with the individuals and the campus police.”

He said that, inside the president’s office, there was “joking” and a “light mood” when he first asked when they would leave.

Cappello testified that he read a first warning to the defendants at 2 p.m. of that day and gave them a second warning at 5 p.m.

“There was a kind of repartee until that point,” he said. “I came in and said, ‘Oh God, you’re here again.”

He testified that the warning he read to the defendants said that they were in violation of the campus code of conduct, the law and the maintenance of public order.

At question during Cappello’s cross-examination was whether or not the defendants took the charges seriously.

He said that the defendants deliberated and appeared to be serious.

Ostrander testified that he asked the defendants to leave without resistance.

He also testified that the “people in the PVC piping were closing their legs to hold the people … in the middle of the group [Apfel, McIntyre, Middlebrooks].”

Patrick, under direct examination from his legal counsel and father James Young, testified that during non-violent protest training, he was taught that “the first thing that they tell you is that police officers lie [in the course of performing their duties].”

Patrick said that he did not believe Ostrander when he was told that the defendants were violating the law.

James argued that the court had not been presented with any proof of ownership of Day Hall and that there was no proof that the defendants knew what they were doing was unlawful.

Patrick testified that, based on “historical analysis,” he understood that students were not charged with trespassing while protesting, but instead that they were charged under the campus judicial system.

Patrick also testified that a University official told him,”we do not arrest students for protesting,” though he could not identify the official.

Rossiter reserved decision on two motions by the defense, one to dismiss in the name of justice and the other to dismiss asserting that the prosecution had not proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

On Oct. 3, Rossiter dismissed resisting arrest charges against the five protesters who had linked themselves together with PVC piping.

In her decision, she wrote that, “a motion to dismiss in the Interest of Justice is proper when one or more factors suggest that prosecution or conviction of the defendant(s) ‘would constitute or result in injustice.'”

Rossiter found that those factors were present.

Archived article by Michael Morisy
Sun News Editor