Occupy Denver: ACLU reacts to restriction against recording during court appearances

occupy arrest 2 tiny.jpg
Westword has been present at every Sunday-morning arraignment related to Occupy Denver arrests. It was only this past Sunday, however, that I was forbidden by the court from recording anything while inside. The recent ban on anyone other than lawyers taking notes on the arrests and bond rates marks the strictest efforts taken against the occupation in court, and it has earned a direct response from the Colorado ACLU: No way, Jose.

On Sunday, court officials at the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center warned me, Denver Post reporter Wes Gentry and the occupation's internal legal team that we would not be allowed to bring in notebooks, bags or cell phones; we were asked to put those items in our cars or in a cubby inside the lobby. In place of this, court reps told us we could each bring in a pen and a sheet of paper. Upon using them, however, we were individually asked to stop any note-taking or be required to leave the courtroom. Occupy Denver's protester-packed legal force resorted to scratching newly raised bond rates into paper with their fingernails.

arraignment meeting.jpg
Kelsey Whipple
Occupy Denver supporters gather to help their fellow volunteers post bail after the group's first arraignment on October 15.
The decision was unexpected, and though it is unlikely to be repeated, the group's lawyers say, the ACLU of Colorado chose to address it definitively in a letter sent yesterday to the presiding judge of the Denver County Court. In addition to requesting records relating to police force, investigating the removal of protester property and stopping by the occasional Occupy Denver event, Colorado ACLU representatives have stepped into the occupation's First Amendment ring once more. (Read more about the legal precedents involved in the letter below.)

"We request that you take all necessary steps to ensure that Judge Hoffman, and any other Denver County Court judge who has adopted a similar prohibition, immediately cease such unconstitutional restrictions on public access to the courtroom," ACLU attorney Sara Rich writes. "In addition, we respectfully request that you respond to our concerns on or before December 2, 2011, and describe what actions you have taken to ensure compliance with the First Amendment protected right of access to criminal trials in Denver County courtrooms."

In all, the restriction on recording materials in court is just the latest in a string of events that has escalated gradually since the group's first collective visit to courtroom 2300. That weekend, the standard bond rate reached $750, a total equal to the max possible fine of the first round of unlawful conduct arrests. For the past two weeks, part-time magistrate John Hoffman has refused to hear any arguments on bail, which prohibits the group's lawyers from making any effort to lower the rates, even for arrestees with no prior criminal records.

The default action has become that of immediately accepting the city's bond recommendation, most recently $200 higher than it was only two weeks before. The result quickly depletes the funds of the group's legal team, fronted and financially supported by the Denver Anarchist Black Cross. After court on Sunday, the group was short more than $400 needed to bail out all of its twenty arrestees, and protester Corey Donahue's most recent stint in jail lasted from Sunday to Wednesday before funds were raised to bail him out. At present, three protesters remain in jail: Jonathan Shepard, Victor Jaime and Robert Huffman.

Below is the letter the Colorado ACLU sent yesterday:
ACLU Letter on Recording in Court

More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver: State denies colluding against occupiers in response to attorney David Lane."


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53 comments
Meg St Aples
Meg St Aples

It is so unfortunate the enforcers of our law so often disregard it.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Looks like the Pen is not mightier than the Sword ...

You WILL obey Judge Hoffman's awww-thoor-ahh-tay !

Debekniss
Debekniss

this is just another example of the government taking away the right to free speech and the right to peacefully protest. Every American should outraged by these actions if you support the Occupy Movement or not it sure has brought to worlds attention the wrongs going on and educating us all on what happens if the government wishes to step on you and your rights. Instead of petty argueing about Nazi actions we should focus on the fact this is soon becoming a police state and making new laws and restricting free speech is just the begining people trust and believe that fact. How obtuse this thinking is from the pwers that be. Now honking your horn is worth a ticket? If Hickenlooper had not spent so much on his riot police they would not be nicklle and diming Colorado left and right. This must stop NOW before this becomes really nasty like a revolution.

Donaldvan
Donaldvan

It's amazing how we stick our nose in every country's business and shove Democracy down their throat but make an embarrassment of our own lack of freedom. The vendetta that Denver and the so called mayor have against the protesters shows that politics and cronyism trump 1st amendment rights every time in our "Free" country.

Allbert
Allbert

This is what the state and city governments are resorting to???? This is sad, and these people removed from office for violating the Constitution.

Steve Rothwell
Steve Rothwell

Freedom of speech in the land of the free, don't we criticize china for this?

coloradojohn
coloradojohn

I want to know if the DPD gave out any illegal horn honking tickets to those thousands of Bronco fans i heard Thursday night. Bet the swine didn't as it's ok except if your supporting Occupy Denver downtown. Mayor Hand-Cock is just another bought and paid for political asshole.  

Jan N
Jan N

We all know the best way to not get 'caught' is to eliminate the records and write your own. Justice for all I say. Lets hear it for this creative upholder of the nation's laws.

The Doktor sez.. "I'm a Proud American!! Get rid of those pesky recording devices, pens and paper! Give them a stone tablet and some chisels. If they use them arrest them for violation of the noise bylaw.

By the way would you like to have a guided tour of my house?" (this is satire.. get it?)

Jtcolfax
Jtcolfax

Mansion, or, McMansion, Magistrate Hoffman should know that his UnAmerican Activities were brought up on the march today. 11/19/11.  The story is being followed.  This pic is only a portion of the crowd that heard discussion of Magistrate Hoffman's 1% life in conjunction with his Kafkaesque courtroom antics.  http://i1089.photobucket.com/a...

Brandt Hardin
Brandt Hardin

Rights like Freedom of Press are some of the basic requirements our Founding Fathers based our ENTIRE legal and political systems on. These rights are being endangered and flat-out violated by denying access to Occupy events to witness the police brutality going on in the police state we are being subjected to. Raise your voice and concern and defend the rights we are entitled to by spreading the word with these free posters I designed on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot...

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Colorado is more fascist than I ever imagined.  The disregard on the part of elected officials and bureaucrats for our own laws and constitution is almost complete (take, e.g. Secretary of State Gessler's recent attempt to contradict election law, or the State's consistent contempt for the Sunshine Law), but their apparent ignorance of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is breathtaking.  Remove that Nazi Hoffman from the bench immediately!

Jtcolfax
Jtcolfax

LOL: but no we wont.  This is a social climbing Magistrate who bit off too much to show off for his country club crowd.  He really had BETTER pay for this gulag like stunt.

Elmergump
Elmergump

With the HOFFMAN, and the claven, and the oy, and the clinking of cocktail glasses.Oh, JOHN HOFFMAN how could you fail so badly.

NCalConservativ
NCalConservativ

What of it?  Any moron honking in support of the occu-cretins deserves a ticket.

Jtcolfax
Jtcolfax

OH let me tell YOU mister.  This cocktail glass clinking ASSHOLE is gonna get a Canadian Lunch Box Suprize.  Magistrate HOFFMAN, who has the society Columnist and others call him JUDGE, is someone who should me called "MIGGLES" in a mocking of the rich movie.  His wife has the MONEY, and there is PLENTY of that, and this D-BAG just HANGS out and hires tired bands like HUEY LEWIS AND THE NEWS to appear at charities.  Everyone makes MONEY and gets a write off. The article shows that TIME is ticking for JUDGEMENT on this toodely doodely fool, but that it better be full square: FIRING.  "You have acted like HITLER, and so YOU are fired," is what Magistrate Hoffman's termination letter should read.  If the GUY at burger king sticks the MOP in the deep fryer he gets FIRED.  Judge,...er ...Magistrate Hoffman has demonstrated SIMILAR obvious contempt for his job.

Chasehaslostit
Chasehaslostit

nazi this and nazi that. nazi nazi nazinazinazinazinazinazinazinazinazinazinazinazi

coloradojohn
coloradojohn

Whether you support Occupy Denver or you don't is irrelevant to this discussion. It's whether you apply the law equally which obviously the mayor isn't and is using the law to punish those he disagrees with..

NCalConservativ
NCalConservativ

Yes, he pulls right from the leftist play book.  I don't agree with you, therefore you're a Nazi.

Let's compare.  Nazis exterminated millions of people.  The Judge didn't allow pens in the courtroom, therefore he's a Nazi.  Makes perfect sense, if you're a brain dead left leaning fascist.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Colorado is full of fascist tools, some of whom can read and write (a little) -- you are one more.  Only such do not care that our government tries to curtail freedom of speech and of assembly, regularly conducts illegal, secret meetings, do not care that judges try to make Star Chambers of our courts -- that's you.

Jtcolfax
Jtcolfax

Would "Kafkaesque" suit you better.  I am so glad that there has been followup on this particular issue.  This incident ALONE ought to bring out masses of protesters to the courthouse.  Judge Hoffman committed a serious abuse, and needs to pay for it dearly.

I hope he ends up in some sort of diarhea holding tank in hell...and ALL that jazz....yeah!

NCalConservativ
NCalConservativ

There is an ordinance against horn honking, and it was enforced.  There have been others who have gotten tickets for honking horns, and there are others who haven't.  Some speeders get tickets, most don't.  There happened to be a police presence around occupydenver, and they gave the douchebag a ticket.

Guest
Guest

After the 1st & 4th amendments are overturned, maybe they can overturn the 2nd.

kfreed
kfreed

I would suggest you look up the definition of fascist. Meanwhile, you tea bag types use "socialist," "communist," and "fascist" interchangeably so nobody expects you to know what you're talking about to begin with.

Any action in support of a criminal corporate fascist state, you people can get behind (for some strange reason... even while screaming "Freeeeeedom in our faces)... right up until the moment it turns around and bites you in the arse.

Free press, free speech, freedom to peaceably assemble... obviously you've never actually read the 1st Amendment to the Constitution you all are always going on about nor, when put to the test, are you ever on the side of that sacred document.

Meh. People are soooooooo over the tea party. You've demonstrated yourselves to be nothing more than propagandists and liars in the service of corporate criminals and Christian fundamentalists (not that the two are in any way mutually exclusive).

NCalConservativ
NCalConservativ

You need to look in the mirror if you want to see hate

USA YAY!!
USA YAY!!

3/4 of conservatives I met are racist, wierdest thing is, they don't reallly belive they are, they tell me they have black friends out of one side of thier mouth while at the same time saying black people are the cause of all this countrys problems on the other. U all are in my opinion, nuts. As for hermain Cain, he didn't have any real chance until his "indescretions" were made known, now all the repubs are backing him, wierd. I'm yet to meet a single conservative that doesn't hate and blame some group, Mexicans, blacks, women, and even gays and unions, why is it that you all are filled with so much hate?

NCalConservativ
NCalConservativ

Once again you are lying and injecting your twisted projections into the discussion.  I never stated my opinion about the document, and it's certainly not in favor of it.  I also said that the document itself, at least spoke to the horrors of slavery.  Your rant doesn't acknowledge that, and I don't believe your twisted mind is capable of accepting any truth other than your fantasy that all conservatives are racist or worse.  

I gotta wonder how that twisted mind rationalized Herman Cain's strong showing.  I'm sure it's got an answer.  The mind works in predictable ways, even the insane twisted mind of a psychopath.  Somehow you've managed to convince yourself that Herman Cain's popularity proves that conservatives are racist.  Right, you sicko?

USA YAY!!
USA YAY!!

I apologize, Ur are most certainly correct, only two signed it. I did the republican thing on that statement and didn't look it up, although I did look up what it said a long time ago. I can now see you are racist if you think them comparing black families who were tore apart to be sold, raped and killed and the fact that a lot of the kids only had one parent because the father was a rich white slave owner. And no before you say it, I'm white. I just understand that it was a horrible time in all of our history and trying to use it to promote a racist prejudice bigoted pledge is not only indecent but wrong on so many levels. I don't know how u drew me down to your level to arguing over your bull, your idea of repeating something makes it true. The main subject of my first post was that everyone has a right free speech. Now you have me argueing with a Glenn beck wannabe, aka NCalConserviti, and being the only one to say anything. You only answering nu uh. This and u are a considerable waste of my time, or said on Ur level, I'm rubber your glue.

NCalConservativ
NCalConservativ

As I told you, your comments are so patently and obviously untrue that It's worthless taking each one apart for the 5 people who might happen to read this. 

Let's take your last lie as an example.  "I mean all the republicans presidential nominees signed a paper saying that black people were better off as slaves."  

First, the document didn't say that.  It said that statistically the Black family was more intact, ie. a child was more likely to be raised by a mother & father, than now.  It acknowledged the horrors of slavery, and never said that Blacks were better off then.

Second, it was signed by 2 candidates, not "all'.  

Try to get your "facts" straight.

USA YAY!!
USA YAY!!

You spew your crap like fox news, say what I say is wrong but give no backing then try to use association with bad people to make a point, is this glen beck? Are the OWS gonna bring the end of the world glen? The OWS doesn't push hate and violence, the tea party and fox news does, which is why a tea partier tried to kill the president and another backer of yours shot gifford and killed the 9yo by her. The OWS doesn't preach socialism like your favorite fox show says, they preach that our congress is being owned and manipulated by wall street. They don't say give me free money like fox repeats over and over so people like you believe it, they say make the corporations pay thier share. They owe it to this country, this great country that gave them the chance to make those gone of money. They should at least pay their taxes.

NCalConservativ
NCalConservativ

Nice gibberish.  You're comments are so absurd and fallacious, it's hard to pick out where to start.  The Nazis use of propaganda and the BIG LIE was legendary.  You obviously studied that technique.  I don't have the time or desire to tear apart each of your statements, but I can't see anything you wrote that's true.

If there is any group promoting hate and violence, it's the self important and delusional "99%."  Their ideology isn't far from Nazism, which explains why the movement is endorsed by the American Nazi Party.  http://anp14.com/news/archives....  The OWS movement is endorsed by Nazis, the Communist Party, Iran, and various degenerates like Ayatollah Khamenei, Lousi Farrakahn, Hugo Chavez, North Korea, China,  and Hezbollah.  These are indisputable facts.  Not the falsehoods you spew.  It's clear why these groups and people would support the movement.  It epitomizes their ideology.

USA YAY!!
USA YAY!!

You can't compare the end result of the nazis to this. The nazis didn't start out murdering millions of people. They started by convincing Germans that thier failling economy was caused by a certain group of people and prompted groups of people to hate them and used that hate to get into office, ie fox news blaming black people and mexicans and the tea party agreeing and following blindly and electing a huge number of tea party republicans, then some stood up and tried to stop and fix the problem but were stopped by changes in their laws that specifically pushed them back down so that the nazis could take completely over. Ie, what that judge and many districts have been doing to the OWS movement. Although I'm not sure I totally agree with his assessment I can see the relation, and also being a supporter of free speech and the constitution and this great nation I won't tell him to shut up in so many words as you guys have, he is free to give his opinion. And who knows maybe the republicans will start rounding up people to put into concentration camps. I mean all the republicans presidential nominees signed a paper saying that black people were better off as slaves. Makes you wonder

Chasehaslostit
Chasehaslostit

you don't even know if i agree with your point of view or not.....i'm tired of your nazi bullshit that is obvious. so robert, for the record. i think the judge was way out of line, but, i think you are a fucking moron also. toodles

Light Rail Tattler
Light Rail Tattler

You can do nothing to please Robert Chase.He is against anyone and everything except weed.Weed is the one and only thing he likes.Now that weed is legal, he should smoke his meds and mellow out.

kfreed
kfreed

If the shoe fits.

Dept OfThe Internetz
Dept OfThe Internetz

I never said I was supporting those responsible at all. You've got a mighty big head on your shoulders there to think that anyone who doesn't support you supports the side you are arguing against. Sorry, but the world isn't that black and white, Mr. Chase. Allow me to clarify:

I think what the judge has ordered is un-American and he should face sanctions for his actions.

I think what you've done is make an asinine argument and a fool of yourself. While we both generally are on the same side here in agreeing that the judge was wrong, your beliefs certainly don't reflect mine. Despite there actually being some cause for public anger here, you blow it all out of proportion and lose any credibility by making the nazi reference (as well as thinking it's a perfectly justifiable comparison in your mind). You might actually have some good points, but nobody is going to listen to the guy who constantly relates everything to Nazi Germany.

You forget that we've seen your type before over the last 15 years in charge of the Internetz, and your behavior (while interesting) merely follows the existing archetype of internet commenters. We're sorry, but as much as you think you're being original with these comparisons, you're actually being sadly predictable.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

-- unfazed by specific citations of injustice, you soldier on in support of those responsible.

Dept OfThe Internetz
Dept OfThe Internetz

It's okay, we're on top of Robert and his amazing display of Godwin's Law over the past few months. He amazes us with his constant, un-ironic use of Nazi references and lack of self-awareness.

thanks.

Chasehaslostit
Chasehaslostit

i don't give a fuck what you call it shit for brains. i was refering to the fact that chase brings up the nazi's on every fucking thread.

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