Grand Jury Refusers Katherine Olejnik and Matthew Duran Are Free

The Stranger: Or they will be at 4 pm tomorrow afternoon. Judge Jones has granted Duran and Olejnik’s attorneys’ request to release their clients, who have been in prison—without convictions or charges—for five months and in solitary confinement for two months.

I wrote about visiting them in prison, and how they got there, in this story.

More details after I get Judge Jones’s ruling—but this is happy, happy news. And it’s a correction of a situation in the justice system that has seemed very, very far from just.

The third grand jury refuser, Maddie Pfeiffer, is still in prison, but his attorney did not join the motion to file for his release. That motion, I’m guessing, isn’t far away.

Of course, they might eventually be charged with criminal contempt—but at least that would have a semblance of due process, an opportunity for a public trial, and a fixed term of incarceration instead of you-just-sit-in-this-cold-cell-until-you-tell-us-what-we-want-to-hear.

You know, the stuff most American citizens expect when dealing with judicial branch of American government.

UPDATE

Judge Jones’s ruling is here, with selected paragraphs after the jump. In short, it reiterates what we’ve been saying for many months: That they weren’t there on May Day, that their confinement is looking awfully punitive even though it’s not legally supposed to be, that they have shown their resolve to not testify, and that the feds are asking them for testimony that would be tangential at best. (em>Who are these people and what are their political beliefs? instead of who threw a brick through a window?)

Read it in Judge Jones’s words below the jump:

Both Ms. Olejnik and Mr. Duran have provided extensive declarations explaining that although they wish to end their confinement, they will never end their confinement by testifying. The court finds their declarations persuasive. They have been submitted to five months of confinement. For a substantial portion of that confinement, they have been held in the special housing unit of the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac, during which they have had no other contact with detainees, very little contact even with prison staff, and exceedingly limited ability to communicate with the outside world…

The government does dispute the witnesses’ assertions that confinement in the special housing until entails 23 hours of solitary confinement in their cells and an hour of solitary time alone in a larger room each day, a single fifteen-minute phone call each month (as opposed to five hours of monthly phone time for detainees outside the special housing until), and exceedingly limited access to reading and writing material. Their physical health has deteriorated sharply and their mental health has also suffered from the effects of solitary confinement.

Their confinement has cost them; they have suffered the loss of jobs, income, and important personal relationships. They face the possibility of criminal convictions for contempt… both she and Mr. Duran have nonetheless refused to testify…

The court has observed both Ms. Olejnik and Mr. Duran in their prior appearances before the court. Whatever the merits of their choices not to testify, their demeanor has never given the court reason to doubt their sincerity or the strength of their convictions.

The witnesses and the government also invite the court to consider arguments specific to the grand jury investigation at issue. The witnesses argue, for example, that any testimony they could offer would be, at best, tangential to the investigation… Although they remain in contempt of court, the court finds no basis for their continued confinement.

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