Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ex-Mayor Kevin Johnson Pie Thrower Jury is Hung | Davis Vanguard

Ex-Mayor Kevin Johnson Pie Thrower Jury is Hung | Davis Vanguard:

Ex-Mayor Kevin Johnson Pie Thrower Jury is Hung

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Special Hearing Friday as 3rd Day of Deliberations Begin
Special to The Vanguard
Completely unexpectedly, about midday Thursday – after a day and a half of deliberation – the jury in the Mayor Kevin Johnson Pie Thrower case called the judge and reported that it was “hung” and could not make a unanimous decision on either of two charges, a felony and misdemeanor, facing alleged pie tosser Sean Thompson.
At 1:30 p.m. Thursday the jurors entered the courtroom and confirmed their deadlock, only saying that they had votes of 9-3 and 7-5 on the two charges most recently, not stating which way those votes went – guilty or not guilty.
The court sent them back to deliberate, but only after the jury requested clarification on questions involving what “official duties” the mayor has – the defense argued that Thompson could only be guilty of assaulting the mayor when he was involved in “official duties,” because attending a private charter school fundraiser, where he was pied, was not official duties.
Other jury questions involved definitions of “harmful,” key to a guilty charge – another point the defense emphasized during lengthy closing arguments, noting that the former Sacramento mayor was not harmed, other than maybe his ego, when hit in the face with a coconut cream pie.
A special hearing will be held Friday morning to decide on answers to those juror questions after which the jury will enter its third day of deliberations – with a few hiccups along the way, in a case that Sacramento County DA Anthony Ortiz promised was “simple.”
Ex-Mayor Kevin Johnson Pie Thrower Jury is Hung | Davis Vanguard:



Pie of the century

Trial judge questions Sac DA’s handling of Thompson charges



Thirty-two ounces of whipped cream, coconut shavings and sugar crumble were enough to launch a full jury trial last week, as one of Sacramento’s most veteran prosecutors clashed with a defense team over the velocity of a pie that hit former Mayor Kevin Johnson in September 2016.
The details of the incident were pored over for a jury with the kind of monomaniacal replaying often reserved for something like the Zapruder film.
With a line of witnesses and hours of testimony going by, both sides stayed locked to the end in an analytic dog fight about the power of a pastry. And the food theme permeated the courtroom beyond the alleged weapon of choice: Deputy District Attorney Anthony Ortiz advanced his felony assault charge against activist Sean Thompson by calling zero police officers and no victim to the witness stand, relying instead on a virtual who’s who of the city’s restaurant scene to prove the case.
While jurors hadn’t ended their deliberations as of press time, Superior Court Judge Robert. M. Twiss had offered an opinion about the case on the record—though not in front of the jury—and in doing so joined a choir of criticism about the specific charges against Thompson being selectively enforced and politically motivated.
An unimpressed judge

The legal sparring in Thompson’s trial started before jurors were even selected. Defense attorneys Claire White and Jeff Mendelman successfully argued against a jailhouse interview Thompson gave being entered into evidence in its entirety. Thompson is charged with a felony count of assaulting a public official in retaliation for that person’s carrying out his given duties.
In his jailhouse interview, conducted a day after he “pied” the mayor at a fundraising event at Sacramento High School, Thompson spoke at length about what he perceived as Johnson’s lack of empathy and action for people living on Sacramento’s streets.
Ortiz wanted all of this 20-minute diatribe played for the jury. Instead, Twiss told the prosecutor he’d rule separately on each individual statement within the interview. Barred were Thompson’s comments calling the mayor “a real asshole” for the last seven years. Other remarks about feeling pressure to make a statement against the mayor, for focusing all his energy on the city’s elites while ignoring those struggling, were allowed into evidence.
During opening motions, after Twiss already made his ruling, Ortiz told the judge it wasn’t a good call to keep some of the jailhouse interview from the jury.
“I’ve never been part of a case when such a clear admission of a crime has been limited,” Ortiz argued, “when it proves nearly every element of this case.”
That remark prompted the judge to tell Ortiz exactly what he thought of the charges against Thompson.
“Stripping this case down, this is a simple misdemeanor battery—that’s what it is,” Twiss said of the felony allegation. “He put a pie in someone’s face. It’s being charged as a felony because of who the victim is, and I get that.”
In January, a host of defense attorneys—including one former prosecutor—told SN&R that the Sacramento County District Attorneys Office was inexplicably punitive when it came to handling low-level cases against local activists. At the time, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Grippi strongly denied that claim.
Twiss’ comments drew no response from Ortiz. The next morning, the prosecutor was handling jury selection by asking potential candidates if they could arrive at a guilty verdict despite any personal views they had on the court wasting resources and taxpayer dollars.
Meditations of Mulvaney

Over the course of the trial, Ortiz made his case against Thompson with no designated law enforcement investigator seated by his side. Proof of the defendant’s guilt was offered through the testimonies of a  Pie of the century
Trial judge questions Sac DA’s handling of Thompson charges

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