Briana's Detention Hearing this Weds. / Full update
This is an update for those who have been following the trial...
of Briana Waters, a wonderful mother and violin teacher from the Bay area who to this day maintains her innocence of these charges she was just convicted of. We are going to continue doing our best to support her in the ongoing legal battle for justice.
An important update is there is a detention hearing on Wednesday March 12, at 1:30 at the Federal courthouse in Tacoma to determine if Briana will be allowed to go home and take care of her life in preparation for her sentencing on May 30th. We are reminding people to get there early, like at 12:30, and people in Olympia will be carpooling from the Grocery Outlet Parking Lot at 11:45. Obviously, if she is living at home over the next 3 months she will be better able to prepare for an appeal, as well as be able to take care of her daughter. She and her lawyers are requesting as many people as possible to come to show that she is part of a community and NOT a flight risk. Though that should be obvious, as she has showed up to every court date and hearing in 2 years. Join us then, at 11:45 to get a ride up there and show that we are watching the so-called justice system at work.
What happened in Briana's trial on Thursday was very upsetting for those of us who hoped that common sense would prevail over fear and lies. It was a very emotional and stressful time, knowing that the prosecution had done their best to stretch and twist the evidence to their favor, and there was also a lot of hope that the jury had seen through their antics.
The judge decided first that he would accept a partially hung jury, and there was a question of whether the jury would be polled on the hung counts... . I believe both Prosecution and Defense were pushing for this, (the prosecution's reasoning being that they would have more info to go on when they were deciding whether to re-try Briana on the hung counts). Burgess struck out on his own in this one and didn't allow it, so nobody knows what the ratio split was in the jury on the other 3 counts.
The jury was brought in, and the air was dense with anticipation. The courtroom was packed, with Briana's supporters and a few media outlets on our side, and a collection of FBI agents and other feds, and more media on the other side.
It started to feel surreal, as the jury foreman passed the note to the court clerk and she read the guilty verdicts on counts 5 and 7, or Arson of a building used in Interstate commerce, and Arson of a building that receives Federal funding. These 2 counts are for the same arson of course, just various excuses for the Gov't to heap on extra charges. It was a very emotional time for those of us who know she is innocent.
The jury was instructed not to talk to either side's lawyers about the case at any point in the future, which seemed very unusual. Defense lawyer Bloom argued that they would like to have the ability to determine if the jurors had been influenced by the big arson fire in Woodinville on Monday morning. They were wanting some idea how much that contaminated the jury, with references made in initial news reports of devices and explosives(!) found in the unburned houses, worries about Booby-traps(!!), and the immediate pinning of those fires on the ELF and the requisite sound bites about terrorism.
Though Bloom argued for the ability to contact the jury later to learn this, Burgess wouldn't hear it, for no apparent reason (not unlike many of this judge's 'decisions'). Needless to say, there are various groups that are concerned about this sort of thing and wish we had more of this kind of information.
One court observer was quoted saying "I thought justice was supposed to be blind, not deaf and dumb... "
At the hearing on Thursday afternoon, Bob Bloom argued eloquently for Briana to be released pending her sentencing hearing May 30th, citing the character witnesses that had testified to her exemplary life, the fact that she was absolutely No flight risk, and no danger to the community. He also went over in some detail some of the main appellate issues. The judge though, didn't seem to consider any of these points interesting, and ordered her detained, though they scheduled the detention hearing for this Weds. where his decision could be reversed.
So, out of all this are many, many grounds for an appeal of the verdict. I'm not sure right now of the timeline for this, but we at Olympia Civil Liberties and other friends and supporters of Briana will continue to post and update people. Please join our low traffic listserve about this case, and possibly other Civil Liberties/Green Scare issues, with carpool info, etc. by going to www.olycivlib.org.
The first thing you can do is come to the Detention Hearing at the Tacoma Courthouse this Weds. at 1:30pm. We have to arrive early! We will be gathering on the Westside of Olympia at 11:45. Please be there!
Another thing is to write to Briana where she is being held right now. The moral support that we can give right now is invaluable. The address is:
FDC - Seatac
Federal Detention Center
P.O. Box 13900
Seattle, WA 98198
There are a few guidelines for writing to her to keep in mind:
All letters must have a return address on the envelope.
Put your name and address on each page of a letter, as it will be opened, and she may not get the envelope.
Written correspondence and drawings may be in pencil, standard ink pen, typewritten, or computer generated. No felt pens, markers, crayon, or colored pencil, etc.
Do not discuss her case or anything related to illegal activities. Keep in mind that all mail is read by authorities.
Most facilities will NOT accept stamps or envelopes mailed to prisoners.
Avoid using white-out, stickers, tape, colored ink or glitter.
All personal artwork must be in black & white, copied pages can be in color.
Most facilities do not allow torn pages from books, magazine or newspaper clippings. Photocopies, however, are accepted
And of course, there are many costs that have come up through the course of this ordeal. Donations are needed by Briana and her family to continue fighting for justice in this upcoming period. If you can, donate through Briana's website: www.supportbriana.org Local donations can be arranged through Olympia Civil Liberties by emailing us. Thank you!
We'll see you all on Wednesday!
homepage: http://www.cldc.org, www.olycivlib.org
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