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Four Forest Activists Arraigned in Clackamas County

Four young activists affiliated with the Cascadia Forest Alliance were arraigned in Clackamas County District Court in Oregon City on Tuesday, after being arrested at a non-violent protest at the Borg timber sale in Mount Hood National Forest on August 30th. Each of the activists was initially charged with three misdemeanors: Interfering with an Agricultural Operation, Interfering with a Police Officer, and Disorderly Conduct.

All four defendants received "no complaint" notices at their arraignments in the same court on September 30th, meaning that the Clackamas County District Attorney chose not to charge them at that time. The DA reserved the right to reinstate charges for a period of two years, and did so earlier this month.

At Tuesday's arraignments, two of the defendants, Leslie Krieger and John Felsner, had their misdemeanor charges reduced to Class A violations, meaning they may have to pay fines if convicted, but do not face jail time or probation. Judge Alan R. Jack scheduled trials for Krieger and Felsner for March 4, 2003 at 9:00am.

Misdemeanor charges against Matthew Ritzinger and Namarta Dosanjeh remained unchanged at Tuesday's arraignment. If convicted by a Clackamas County jury, Dosanjeh faces up to 2 and a half years in jail and $12,500 in fines.

Matthew Ritzinger could spend up to 18 months in jail and be required to pay $7,500 in fines. Judge Jack assigned their cases to Clackamas County case management, which will convene on January 7 to set a trial date.

All four defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

NLG attorney Paul Loney, who represents one of the defendants, explained that the activists will now begin to receive discovery in the case from Clackamas officials and can mount a defense against the charges.

Speaking to the press outside the courthouse after the arraignments, Loney said that once a jury sees the evidence in the case, and learns the truth about what happened on the date of the arrests, the defendants will be found not guilty.

A more complete, audio version of this report is available by clicking the links below.

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