In issuing indictments ofÂ 11 UCI studentsÂ on charges of conspiracy to disrupt a public meeting and disrupting a public meeting Mr. Rackauckas said; “We must decide whether we are a country of laws or a country of anarchy. We cannot tolerate a pre-planned violation of the law.”
Interesting thought Tony, but how then do you explain your failure to charge former Assemblyman Chuck DeVore for the same crime. A crime that he committed at an event sponsored by the UCI Muslim Student Union in 2007?
The Daily Pilot reported on May 26, 2007:
Newport Beach Assemblyman Chuck DeVore attended a speech in the Humanities Hall by Sheikh Sadullah Khan, a political activist from South Africa who fought against the country’s apartheid regime. The assemblyman brought a hand-held video camera with him and said before the event that he wanted to see how members of the Muslim Student Union would react to him taping Khan’s speech.
The Orange County Register reported Wednesday that:
The District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday that it will not be “swayed by special interest groups voicing their opinions.”
“We have gotten hundreds of letters either way, both supporting and against,” said Susan Kang Schroeder, the district attorney’s chief of staff. “We base filing decisions and prosecution decisions on the facts and the law. Rarely do you have a case where the entire case is on videotape and in writing.”
Thanks Susan for opening that line of thinking up. In 2007 Chuck DeVore wrote the following regarding his disruption of a UCI Muslim Student Union sponsored event:
Before the event, I met with a professor, a graduate student and two local community leaders at the campus Starbucks.Â We saw an MSU student leader walk by a number of times filming us with his camera phone.Â We all walked to the MSU event.Â There were notices posted outside saying “No audio or video recording allowed.”Â The same message was posted on the blackboard in the lecture hall.Â Male MSU members filed in to the left, fully covered MSU female members to the right,Â an interesting display of gender apartheid at a secular event on a secular campus, especially given the evening’s topic of apartheid in South Africa.Â An MSU student leader came to the podium and announced the no recording policy.Â From the back of the hall I asked, On whose authority?”Â He replied, “We will talk outside.”Â I said, “Fine, I”ll keep recording.”Â The guest speaker, Mr. Khan, opened his remarks by saying that he didn’t mind if I recorded his talk, I said, “Shukran (thank you).”
The UCI 11 are charged with the following alleged crimes:
Disturbance of a Meeting or Assembly (Penal Code Â§ 403)Â
Penal Code Â§ 403, entitled, â€œDisturbance of assembly or meeting other than religious or political,â€Â states:Â â€œEvery person who, without authority of law, willfully disturbs or breaks up any assembly or meeting that is not unlawful in its character â€¦ is guilty of a misdemeanor.â€Â Â
Conspiracy (Penal Code Â§ 182) and Proof by Circumstantial Evidence
Penal Code Â§ 182 renders it unlawful for â€œtwo or more persons [to] conspire to commit any crime.â€ It further states, â€œConspiracy is a specific intent crime requiring an intent to agree or conspire, and a further intent to commit the target crime â€¦ â€ with at least one overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy be committed by one or more of the parties to the conspiracy.
Chuck DeVore conspired to disrupt the event featuring Sheikh Sadullah Khan in May of 2007. He wrote about and confirmed his intent and that he conspired with others regarding his actions. The Daily Pilot reported that DeVore had planned to attend the event and attempt to see what the reaction would be to his videotaping.Â DeVore documented his conspiracy in his own writing andÂ his overt action ofÂ interrupting of the meeting was documented by the Daily Pilot, the video that DeVore recorded and DeVore’s own writing.
As Susan Kang Schroeder might put it; “Rarely do you have a case where the entire case is on videotape and in writing.” If indeed the District Attorney base filing decisions and prosecution decisions on the facts and the law as Mrs. Schroeder claims, why was there no prosecution of Assemblyman Chuck DeVore for his actions?Â As Mr. Rackauckas said; “We must decide whether we are a country of laws or a country of anarchy. We cannot tolerate a pre-planned violation of the law.”
Now I understand that the statute of limitations for prosecution of DeVore’s acts of anarchy and planned and actual violation of the law have probably expired, but that fact should not be a barrier preventing Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas from treating the UCI 11 equally, to Chuck DeVore,Â under the law.
To do otherwise would suggest that only crimes committed byÂ people of a particularÂ religious faithÂ warrant prosecution. Imagine the anarchy and First Amendment quandary that such a practice would create.
It also wouldn’t hurt for Tony Rackauckas to come out and admit that his prosecution is an overreach and drop the charges against the UCI 11.