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Jury Trial Begins for Occupy Wall Street’s Cecily McMillan
Cecily McMillan faces 7 years in prison after being beaten by the NYPD, leaving her unconscious at an event marking the 6-month anniversary of the occupation of Zuccotti Park. The Occupy Wall Street activist is charged with felony assault on a police officer, a Class D felony in New York. In the course of her arrest, McMillan sustained bruised ribs, a seizure and numerous cuts across her body. McMillan is a political organizer, and activists speculate that’s why the prosecutor is seeking the full penalty.
Attorney Marty Stolar:
- Cecily is indicted, which is somewhat unusual in the Occupy Wall Street cases. There are only two serious felonies that have made it through the indictment process, Cecily’s is one of them.
- She’s accused of assault in the second degree. She’s accused of assaulting a police officer with intent to disrupt his ability to perform his official duties. She wacked him in the face with her elbow and left a good sized mouse under his left eye, causing him substantial pain and also to miss some work.
- The circumstances however under which she delivered the blow to his cheekbone are what the trial is about.
- Cecily is not the kind of person who would assault a police officer just for the hell of it.
- The police at midnight decided to clear the park of all the people who were there to celebrate the anniversary. Cecily was there not necessarily to celebrate the anniversary but to meet somebody to continue her pub crawling on St Patrick’s Day–being a McMillan–when Cecily is grabbed from behind on her right breast and jerked upwards and she reacts, her arms go up in the air, her elbows go up, and that’s when her elbow makes contact with the officer’s cheekbone.
- At that point Cecily is knocked down to the ground hits her head on the sidewalk and really has no memory of what has occurred until she wakes up somewhat later in a hospital.
- All of sudden she realizes she’s got bruises all over her body. She’s got a bruised rib, cuts all over her back, bumps on her head, she really has no idea how they occurred.
- Cecily for whatever reason was singled out to be prosecuted for a felony and they didn’t offer her a decent plea in the case.
- The officer lost a couple days of work, then he was back on the job; his vision was not impaired.
Guest – Attorney Marty Stolar is a criminal defense lawyer and former president of the New York chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
Here on Law and Disorder we’ve been covering the issue of children being sentenced to prison for life without parole for an offense committed during adolescence. The United States was the only country in the world to mete out life without parole to juveniles. But, in the last few years, the United States Supreme Court acted to curb the use of mandatory life sentences for juveniles. It accepted the argument that children, even those who are convicted of murder, deserve a chance at redemption. However, most state courts are not following the spirit of the recent Supreme Court decision. In Florida, which is the number one state that puts children in prison for life without the possibility of parole, several lawsuits have been brought accusing the state of handing out massive sentences in non-homicide cases that basically amount to life without parole.
- The youths were involved in homicide cases. Human Rights Watch estimates that 25 percent of those individuals were convicted of felony murder, meaning they were not the primary perpetrator or they were there at the time the crime was committed but weren’t the trigger man.
- The majority of them, 60 percent, had no prior record.
- This most extreme sentence has been imposed on people we could not define as our most serious offenders.
- June of 2012, the Miller v. Alabama decision was issued, which struck down mandatory life without parole sentences for children.
- In each of these cases, the court has relied on a growing body of research that really articulates the fundamental differences between children and adults.
- We know that the vast majority of them tend to grow out of any criminal behavior.
- The court has said we can’t impose these most extreme sentences on our children.
- The court has said that children are constitutionally different when it comes to sentencing.
- Two thirds of the people serving these sentences are concentrated in just five states.
- In Pennsylvania, the state that leads the nation in this practice, there are 500 people serving this sentence.
- Back in the 1990s, there was this theory known as the super-predator theory, that there was going to be this juvenile crime wave.
- The super-predator theory has since been disproven even by the criminologists who were its original authors.
- We now have an opportunity to be really mindful and careful about how we implement policies at the state level that hold young people accountable for serious crimes.
- Some legislatures have abolished life without parole altogether, Wyoming, Texas, Delaware among them. Some states have reacted in imposing the next available harshest sentence.
Guest – Jody Kent Lavy, director of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. The organization calls on states to reconsider mandatory terms dispensed before the Miller ruling.
CSPAN Book Club Video – Imagine: Living in a Socialist U.S.A.