Saturday, July 30, 2005

War protester's conviction of being in restricted space where the President was visiting upheld

Earlier in the week, in the case of U.S. v. Bursey, the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge King, joined by Judge Motz and Senior Judge Siler from the Sixth Circuit, upheld the criminal conviction of a fellow who showed up to protest at an appearance by President Bush at the airport in Columbia, SC.

The charge was brought under 18 U.S.C. § 1752, under which "It shall be unlawful for any person . . . (1) willfully and knowingly to enter or remain in . . . (ii) any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting. . . ." The protester was tried before a magistrate judge and fined $500. On appeal, the amici supporting the appellant included: DKT LIBERTY PROJECT; PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY; NATIONAL LAWYERS’ GUILD; FIRST AMENDMENT FOUNDATION; PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS; and PEOPLE’S LAW OFFICE OF CHICAGO. Arguing for the appellant were Jeffrey E. Fogel, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS, New York, New York, and P. Lewis Pitts, Jr., ADVOCATES FOR CHILDREN’S SERVICES, Durham, North Carolina.

The appellant raised two issues, that the "restricted area" was not really restricted, and that his remaining in the area was not willful and knowing in violation of the statute. The Court rejected both contentions, in affirming the conviction.

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