Occupy Denver Legal Update

From the Westword:

In the almost five months that Occupy Denver has maintained a presence downtown, the group has experienced more than 100 arrests. Add to this mix upwards of seventy lawyers, hundreds of court dates and an attempt at a federal injunction, and the results become tough to track. Yesterday, Westword caught up with Jes Jones, a boardmember for the National Lawyers Guild of Colorado, whose role it is to do just that.

The defendants are all “in different positions,” Jones says — and for their attorneys, this is both a blessing and a curse. In some cases, for example, their clients’ arrests weren’t captured on video, while in others, the evidence is more substantial. During the 2008 Democratic National Convention, for which the NLG also served as legal representation, the mass arrests all took place at the same event on the same day and were seen by the same judge, who was called in overnight. In contrast, Jones notes that some Occupy arrestees “are really active and vocal protesters, some were on the sidewalks trying to comply, and others were just randomly visiting. There are so many different charges and DAs and judges and things we did not have to deal with during the DNC, [and] that makes it all that much more complicated.”

All of the lawyers working with occupiers have volunteered to take on their legal issues pro bono. In the new year, group strategy meetings between attorneys have grown less frequent but are still regular and accompanied by mass e-mails. But in the entire Occupy Denver caseload, only a small handful have ended or been dismissed. David Glenn, who was arrested on November 12 and charged with disobeying a lawful order, was set to be the first case to go to trial last Monday, but his case has since been continued — and so have many others.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if some of these Occupy cases lasted until late fall,” says Faisal Salahuddin, an attorney with Killmer, Lane & Newman who is overseeing five Occupy Denver cases. “In some of these cases, they just handed over a big haystack and said, ‘Hey, go through this.'”

Full story here.


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