My partner Leo Mulvihill, along with Larry Krasner, Jon Feinberg, Mike Lee, Paul Hetznecker, Michael Coard, and Marni Snyder defended 12 Wells Fargo protesters accused of “defiant trespass.” (Side note: Paul Hetznecker is one of the best criminal defense attorneys in Philadelphia but he doesn’t have a website. Take note, marketeers.)
For whatever reason, the District Attorney’s Office decided to
waste our tax dollars protect us from crime by pursuing this case. Of course, this is not the first time the District Attorney’s office has decided to pursue stupid criminal charges that were ultimately dismissed when put before a jury.
Last year the protesters were found guilty by a municipal court judge for staging a demonstration in a Wells Fargo Bank. The protesters were accused of enteringthe bank, which is a public place, and then refusing to leave. The protesters appealed their conviction and asked for a jury trial.
This is a video of the demonstration:
Defiant trespass is defined as pretty much whatever the Commonwealth feels like defining it as. It’s often used as a tool to stifle First Amendment dissent against people who say stuff that makes banks angry.
Interestingly, District Attorney Seth Williams actually implored the 12 protesters to accept their punishment, whether it’s unjust or not, because apparently that’s part of civil disobedience:
Notably, one of the Occupy 12 protesters marched with Martin Luther King.
Today a jury of their peers found the protesters not guilty. The Occupy 12 didn’t accept their punishment, but stood up against tyranny once again. Congratulations to them, and their team of defense lawyers.
Bonus: the jury decided that their actions were barred by the doctrine of justification, meaning the protest was staged to prevent a worse harm caused by Wells Fargo.
After the trial, Judge Wright Padila said: “I hope you continue your work in a law-abiding way… I must say you are the most affable group of defendants I’ve ever come across.”
Tax pay dollars wasted, the First Amendment still marches on here in Philadelphia.
There will be a press conference at 3pm.