Monday, October 22, 2007

Cirignano Today — Slap or Slide?

Surely within six hours, by lunchtime, the Cirignano jury will have finished its work on what has become a simple assault and battery case. I'll stay on record that the result by all rights should be guilty.

Of course even if the fine would be a few hundred dollars (max. of $1000 by law and surely no jail time for a first offender), it is plain that an appeal would immediately follow. A fund raiser for right-wing causes would have to see a record for violent crime as a marketing minus.

I am more concerned about the Hurley decision's appearance as a justification for roughing up a protester. In the Cirignano case, Justice David Despotopulos did his best to keep it clean and distinct by components. He eventually agreed with the defense attorney that a counter-demonstrator pretty much ceded freedom of speech on the matter at hand by trespassing into a rally area where the demonstrators held a permit. However, just short of a directed verdict in the A&B aspect, he made it plain too that permit holders (or in this case, someone who was sympathetic to the cause of the permit holders) did not have a right from that to act as bouncers or police in manhandling anyone.

I'll investigate more and like elaborate on this. Combined with our current regressive U.S. Supreme Court and Justice Department, this could become a problem for everyone. If judges do begin allowing precedent for what they call "self-help" even when police are around, free speech would definitely suffer.

I won't rant on about this today. The verdict is at hand.

Mug and Fling

I did promise to expand on why the A&B should be certain. Justice Despotopulos touched on various aspects of that charge in his opening, throughout the trial and in his instructions to the jury. The criteria for the charge are there:
  • Touching someone without reason or justification, and that the person did not want
  • Intentionally doing the touching
  • Touching in such a way that might cause damage
In multiple statements to the police on December 16th, 2006, Cirignano said he "pushed" or "pushed lightly" Sarah Loy. He tried his best to wordsmith that in testimony to ""guided her", but the description was the same — he admits putting his forearm on her lower back and moving her some 10 or more feet into a hostile crowd. Clearly he could have caused harm and the prosecution did not have to prove he actually tried to hurt her.

Previously some of the folk at the main rally trotted out patent lies. They had Loy watching Cirignano leave before throwing herself to the ground to hit her head and play act. The defense had the good sense not to put them on the stand. At the trial another incredible story emerged of Loy on her own stopping before moving farther into the crowd and tripping on a teen girl's foot.

All of the word tricks don't mitigate against Cirignano meeting the low bar of A&B here.

Back to the Hurley case and its implications, Cirignano is certainly extreme in both his background and his attempted justification for mugging Loy. He said on the stand that he received his catch-and-release training from the U.S. Secret Service when he was an advance man for the elder President George Bush. We should note that those are law enforcement professionals, authorized to protect politicians and others with force.

Larry is not, but he apparently continues to think of himself as a double-oh agent, still empowered to enforce the law. To complicate his current case, as the judge said a few times, the police were close and should have been the people enforcing order against a trespasser, Loy was moving away from the rally speakers and no threat to anyone, and while Cirignano testified that he was pushing her to avoid a confrontation, he was doing so directly into an angry crowd.

Because this is only a district court in one county, this case is not going to have overly strong legal implications. On the other hand, statewide and nationwide political extremist such as the Massachusetts Family Institute grab whatever weapons they can and push and push and push.

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