Lawyers lined the side of the prosecution in the court room yesterday. Besides the DA, they had the city attorney, the state DA and a handful of others. The DA, being whispered advice from the city attorney, started with Officer Crisp, who was not so truthful. He stated that Jonas "darted across three lanes of traffic". Well this one wasn't a lie but an exaggeration. He did cross the street, but that section of the road has a light on each side of the bridge and, before 8am on the Haywood Road bridge is not exactly what you would consider heavy traffic. The "three lanes of traffic" apparently included the turning lane. He also did not indicate any specific car or pedestrian hampered by "the protester". When asked by our attorney, Bill Auman, if he questioned Jonas if he was a part of the Climate Convergence group that had protested the Bank of America just two days prior or if he was a member of Veterans for Peace or any other local activist group. Crisp stated that he did not ask him any questions. Which was a flat out lie.
When Sergeant Riddle took the stand, being a seasoned man on the force for over thirty years, he told his untruths using the "I don't recall" response. Auman asked Riddle if he said "I'm sick of this crap" and "You're gonna' get your fifteen minutes of fame, buddy". "I don't recall sayin' that". In my opinion, Riddle has been on the force too long and is overdue for retirement. A friend of ours was pulled over by Riddle one evening. Our friend had a doll holding a sign that said "Impeach Bush and Cheney" propped up to show out the back of his hatchback. He told our friend, "I like your doll" in a sarcastic tone. When asked why he was being pulled over, Riddle barked at him about having a reason and told him that his head light was out. He says that Riddle appeared agitated, as he did when he was arresting Jonas.
The circus went on, with WLOS filming everything. (How can I get a copy of that?) The Asheville Citizen-Times was there along with reporters from the Asheville City Paper and the Mountain Express. Additionally a handful of bloggers took notes and absorbed the spectacle. Our attorney had about five arguments, all technicalities, why the case should be dismissed. One by one the judge overruled our lawyer. The prosecution centered it's case on highway blogging being a dangerous distraction to motorists. But, Jonas wasn't arrested for endangering motorists, which they did not prove anyway, he was arrested for blocking the sidewalk. A fact they also did not prove.
In the end, the judge sided with justice and found that they did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Jonas broke the ordinance. He was found not guilty. When Jonas was questioned by WLOS whether he would resume highway blogging he stated he would and he would bring a buddy. "Blog with a buddy". Good advise for any protester.