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Posted by on Oct 4, 2011 in Law | 4 comments

Prosecutorial Indescretion: The Irvine 11

From On The Media:

In February of last year, a group of Muslim students on the University of California Irvine campus disrupted a speech by Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the US. The university punished the students, but the “Irvine 11” also faced criminal charges. A couple weeks back 10 of them were convicted of conspiracy and disturbance of a meeting.

OTM spoke with both Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who explained why his office decided to prosecute, and the Dean of the UC Irvine School of Law, Erwin Chemerinsky. Chemerinsky explains the indescretion:

They should be punished by the university. There was no need for criminal prosecution.

Now, of course, if this happens in the future and the D.A. doesn’t prosecute, then there’ll be claims of unequal justice, of discriminatory prosecution. And I think those would be very powerful criticisms.

On the other hand, it’s really sad to see a bad decision become precedent for future bad decisions.

The solution? Less prosecutorial discretion and more community accountability. See here and here.

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  • EEllis

    I think what we discussed concerning the political implications were that if we don’t proceed on this case, that we would not be able to proceed on another future case where say the Muslims were shut down in their attempt to give some kind of a speech.

    Tony Rauckauckas Orange County district attorney.

    To me the comment makes sense. Since there was truly overwhelming evidence if they didn’t prosecute now how could they ever?

    I also must say big freaking deal. It’s a misdemeanor breach of the peace offense. Probably $400 max fine with no jail time. Same kind of deal as public disturbance. I think it’s a good thing. People need to know there are real consequences to actions in the real world.

  • ShannonLee

    i wonder how many other meetings have been disrupted without any action taken? was this the first time it ever the entire history of the university? If not, what were their actions then? If so, I guess they have a precedent.

  • Allen

    Well it’s Orange County. They’re a bunch of friggen Bob Dornan fascists anyway, what would you expect?

  • EEllis

    If not, what were their actions then? If so, I guess they have a precedent.

    The DA said he did not know of any other cases ever being filed but the difference in this case may have been that it was simply so well organized. I’m sure individuals have been arrested and charged with other things like trespass and public disturbance, some of which would have equivalent seriousness, but it does seem here like they had overwhelming evidence to a organized plan to disrupt the event.

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