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Chelsea Gerlach Preliminary Hearing Notes

Eugene, OR

Just got back from the preliminary hearing for Chelsea Gerlach related to charges from 2 incidents : The Bonneville Tower in Bend, OR and arson at Childers Meat Co, both in 1999.

This was not an arraignment, as Chelsea has already plead not guilty on all charges at an arraignment last week (and since the charges weren't read today, I don't know what they are). This hearing dealt with her detention pending trial.
Chelsea Gerlach Preliminary Hearing Notes, 12/13/05

[Please forgive the sloppiness of this report... I wanted to get it out as accurately and quickly as possible, so... sorry for legal gobbledy-gook]

Eugene, OR

Just got back from the preliminary hearing for Chelsea Gerlach related to charges from 2 incidents : The Bonneville Tower in Bend, OR and arson at Childers Meat Co, both in 1999.

This was not an arraignment, as Chelsea has already plead not guilty on all charges at an arraignment last week (and since the charges weren't read today, I don't know what they are). This hearing dealt with her detention pending trial.

Chelsea's Federal public defender (I'm sorry I didn't get his name) cross-examined a federal agent, Paul Caldwell (agency unknown), based on a sworn affadavit previously submitted to the court. Caldwell testified that a confidential informant (referred to as CS1) had admitted to involvement at the Childer's Meat Company arson, and stated that someone going as "Country Girl" had acted as lookout with a handheld radio. Defense counsel asked Caldwell, "Has the Government made any promises to CS1 in exchange for info?" Caldwell replied that he was "not aware of the specifics".

Caldwell, in response to another question, made mention of another informant, CS2, who had been charged with a crime and had given information to the feds within the last week.

The US Attorney argued that Chelsea should remain in detention pending trial then reeled off an unsubstantiated laundry list of actions the Government "believes she was involved in", including arson at UW Horticulture building, arson of the Vail, Colorado ski resort, Jefferson Poplar, and an arson in Monmouth, OR. He then went on to describe Chelsea as a flight risk due to her "extensive connections with underground networks worldwide". As examples, he mentioned Tre Arrow's flight to Canada, Josephine Overaker's "unwillingness to face the charges against her", and Chelsea's alleged friendship with Daniel McGowan.

Chelsea's Federal Defender made artful arguements in favor of her release until trial based on her strong ties to the Southern Willamette Valley and the support of her family (who were all present). He urged the judge not to consider the unsubstantiated allegations thrown out by the US Atty. with no sources or evidence presented. He pointed out that even though Chelsea was indicted by a Federal grand jury Dec. 3rd of 2004, she had not fled, and that if Feds had a warrant for her arrest, they could easily have picked her up at any time, as she had made no attempt to hide her whereabouts. He also suggested that Chelsea could be electronically monitored and be released to live with her father.

Judge Thomas Coffin ruled that she be held until trial due to "the severity of the charges". He stated that the grand jury intends to present two more cases this week for indictment, and said he'd been advised that the grand jury was considering the Vail, Colorado case. A court hearing was set for Monday, Dec. 19 at 1:30 pm to set a trial date and to arraign any added charges presented by grand jury this week.

The US Atty. stated that the investigations into other actions the Gov. believes Chelsea to be involved in will be concluded within the next six months.

Chelsea has stated that she is innocent on all charges. She considers herself an environmental activist, and believes in non-violence.
Defender/agent info 13.Dec.2005 18:34


Chelsea's Defense is Craig Weinerman. Paul Caldwell is FBI.

Issue of informants 14.Dec.2005 14:55


Many of the posts concerning the arrests over a number of activists and the issuance of grand jury subpoenas lately have been mentioning the possibility that people who have been involved the activist community and have turned into "informants."
It is worthwhile for people to keep in mind as they see postings about informant testimony or, moreover, subpoenas and police testimony about informants is that lawyers who study criminal procedure have found that informants often do not actually exist. Since prosecutors often are allowed to support affidavits with the testimony of anonymous informants, and the only test given in Federal courts (this is different in some state courts, who have their own interpretations of state constitutions) is a "totality of the circumstances" showing that there is some indicia of reliability. It is often suspected that the "informants" are actually police who were engaged in illegal searches or surveillance (aka information from a illicit wiretap could be alleged to be information gotten from an informant).
The assertion that the prosecutor seems to have made, that the informant who provided information had admitted to a crime is part of the establishment of the reliability under the theory that people rarely make admissions that go against their "venial interests," in the case of an anonymous informant this is not supposed to be a factor, since the anonymity would protect the informant's interests.
The defense attorney who was pressing for the informers name was trying to establish whether or not this person actually exists, not necessarily trying to get their name. The establishment of the actual identity of anonymous informants, at its best, is usually in camera, or in the judge's chambers.
There may well be informants; there certainly have been in the past. However, the assertions of the prosecutor that anonymous informants have given testimony (supporting, it seems the entire indictment), may either a cover for police misconduct or an attempt to keep the case from being thrown out for a lack of probably cause to support the charges.
I have seen what fear of informants has done to activist communities in the past. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has held that we never have an expectation of privacy in our conversations (attorney-client, etc. are sort of exceptions) and anyone can inform on anyone, alleging true of false things at anytime. Going around with this much suspicion is enough to make anyone crazy.
Make sure you have real proof before accusing anyone of anything. The feds do enough witch-hunting without the activist community doing the same.
One last bit of information: people can be subpoenaed for grand juries with out any proof proffered by the prosecutor that they are involved in anything. The only limitation on the subpoena power is that it is not supposed to be used to "harass," which is why you see so much literature about Grand Juries "harassing" activists. It is unlikely, however, that anyone would be able to present evidence sufficient to convince a judge (or magistrate) that subpoenas were only being used to harass.

Contact Chelsea's lawyer 16.Dec.2005 17:03

Paul Brown chelsea_lawyer@fd.org

I am an investigator with the Federal Public Defender for the District of Oregon. Our office represents Chelsea Gerlach. Please contact me directly and confidentially at  chelsea_lawyer@fd.org if you have any information that may assist Chelsea's defense. Please do not respond on this website but to me directly at  chelsea_lawyer@fd.org.

Paul Brown

paul young's credentials 03.Jan.2006 05:24

kirsten anderberg

I am not digging these generic "contact me" posts from Paul YOung. I have asked him in email several times now about his credentials and past experience in investigative work. He is asking we blindly contact him yet he is not willing to tell us ANYTHING about who he is or his past experience in this type of case. Remember, PAUL YOUNG IS PAID BY THE STATE. I would like to have Paul please tell us about other cases he has worked on, what his experience as an investigator is, how long he has been an investigator, etc. We need to know about him before we talk to him. Paul, I am still waiting...who are you, what experience do you have as an investigator and what are some of your accomplishments in the field of investigating. If you want us to write you, tell us who you are, don't keep posting your generic message. It is offensive.

Paul Young????? 04.Jan.2006 12:52

Kimberly Dawn

Paul Young??? Or do you mean Paul Brown? Paul Brown is the investigator working for Chelsea's defense lawyer. Chelsea's family has confirmed this, I believe somewhere on this forum, and in other communications. I have spoken to another attorney in Eugene who I trust implicitly and she has confirmed the same. If there is someone else out there named Paul Young than I don't know what to tell you.