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NYCLU Files Brief In Support Of Anti-War Activists

The NYCLU today filed a friend of the court brief in support of four anti-war activists who, as a result of civil disobedience, were convicted earlier this year of disorderly conduct and obstructing governmental administration.

In March, the District Attorney obtained, ex parte, an order unsealing court records of prior charges against the individuals.
The charges included mere arrests and nearly all of the charges had been dismissed, many as Adjournments in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACDs). In a dramatic departure from its past practice with respect to civil disobedients, the District Attorney now seeks incarceration of the activists because of their “prior contacts with the criminal justice system.” In support of this harsh sentence, the District Attorney has brought the activists’ prior charges before the sentencing judge for his consideration. The sentencing is currently scheduled for November 18.

The NYCLU argues that, in sentencing a defendant, a court considering facts contained in records of a dismissed case or an arrest must comply with the requirements of due process. This means that the court must make a factual determination that any facts presented by the prosecution are reliable and accurate, and that the defendant must be given an opportunity to exercise his right to challenge these facts. In addition, in cases such as this one, where the prosecution presents facts to significantly increase a defendant’s sentence, it must prove these facts beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Mass Defense Committee of the National Lawyers Guild and the Legal Aid Society have also filed friend of the court briefs in the case.

Click here to read the NYCLU brief.

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