United States v. Choi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
United States v Choi day 1

United States v. Daniel Choi is a federal criminal case in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 10-739-11. In November 2010, Choi and 12 other protesters chained themselves to the White House fence in protest of the military "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, shouting "Let us serve." All 13 were arrested and charged federally. Choi rejected a plea bargain deal, and trial commenced on August 29, 2011, before United States Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola.[1][2][3]  It was halted by the prosecution after three days to pursue a writ of mandamus prohibiting the defense of selective and vindictive prosecution.[4][5][6] After the writ was issued, Choi was convicted of a single misdemeanor charge on March 28, 2013, and fined $100.[7]

Charges[edit]

On November 15, 2010, a group of 13 gay-rights activists, including former Army Lieutenant Daniel "Dan" Choi stood on the masonry base of the White House fence and handcuffed themselves in protest of the military "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy.[8][9][10][11][12][13]  The policy barred openly gay, lesbian or bisexual service members from revealing their sexual orientation. The 13 were arrested and charged with "Failure to Obey a Lawful Order", a United States Park Police regulation, Title 36 C.F.R. Section 2.32(a)(2).[14][15]

At pre-trial hearings and conferences, prosecutors offered the group a wired plea deal.[16]  In return for pleading guilty to the charge, the group would have all charges dismissed after four months of no arrests upon probable cause. Choi refused to plead guilty, but the deal was offered to the other 12.[17]

Trial[edit]

Trial commenced for Choi on August 29, 2011. Prosecutor Angela George filed a motion in limine asking the judge to prohibit the defenses of impossibility and selective prosecution.[18]  Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola ruled against this motion until the submission of all evidence at trial.[19]  Prosecution called witnesses from the United States Park Police including the arresting officer, Lieutenant Robert LaChance, who testified to the existence of Secret Service advance knowledge of the protest.[20]  Defense team led by Robert Feldman (pictured above) filed a motion to compel evidence of Secret Service emails and issued subpoena to directors of Homeland Security and the Department of the Interior.[21]  After Choi himself testified in the defense case, Judge Facciola made a prima facie finding for selective and vindictive prosecution.[22]  Prosecution petitioned for a writ of mandamus to prohibit Judge Facciola from entertaining the defense, and the trial was stayed.[23][24][25]

Selective prosecution[edit]

Choi asserted pre-trial that the decision to federally prosecute the group of 13 protestors was selective enforcement of the regulations, noting a rally at the White House following the death of Osama bin Laden, where none of the revelers were arrested.[26][27]  Choi also asserted at trial that he was arrested two previous times, on March 18, 2010, and April 20, 2010, for the same conduct but charged at municipal court. During those prosecutions, all charges against Choi were dropped, without an official statement from the Washington D.C. Office of the Attorney General.[28]  Choi claimed the federal charges were a result of White House and prosecutor vindictiveness, to punish him for successfully asserting his constitutional rights to free speech.[29]  Choi pointed out that he was the only protestor in history to stand federal trial for handcuffing himself to the White House fence.[30]  He claimed the wiring of the plea deal was an attempt to punish Choi although several of the others were never previously arrested. At trial, prosecution revealed an email between US Park Police detective Sgt. Timothy Hodge communicating with Department of Interior Solicitor Randolph Myers on prosecuting the group with federal charges.[31]  After evidence of White House LGBT Liaison Brian K. Bond alerting Secret Service, Homeland Security and US Park Police to the protest, three days prior,[32] two of the 12 protestors withdrew their guilty pleas in order to stand trial with Choi. Their motions were denied by Magistrate Judge Alan Kay.

Interlocutory petition for mandamus[edit]

On October 7, 2011, a mandamus hearing was held, and on October 11 a federal district court chief judge granted a writ of mandamus against a magistrate judge of the same district court, for the first time in history. In his opinion, Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth expressed the rare nature of this action but granted the writ after finding the defense should have raised the selective and vindictive prosecution claim before trial. Judge Lamberth agreed with the prosecution's claim that responding to a selective prosecution claim would be too costly for the government.[33][34]

Choi appealed this decision to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and petitioned for a writ of mandamus prohibiting Judge Lamberth's writ of mandamus. He terminated his attorneys and proceeded pro se.[35]

Re-enlistment in the military[edit]

During the course of the trial, the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy was officially repealed and Choi, discharged under the policy in July 2010, attempted to re-enlist in the U.S. Army.[36]  However, he was told by recruiters that the federal trial prevented his re-enlistment.[37]

Civil suit[edit]

Choi filed a civil suit against the United States Park Police and Secret Service for the wrongful arrest on November 14, 2011. He also filed conspiracy charges against White House officials involved in the arrest and subsequent federal charges.[38]

References[edit]

  1. ^ John Riley (29 August 2011). "Choi's Trial Ends Day One, With More to Come Tuesday". Metro Weekly - Poliglot. Jansi, LLC. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  2. ^ "Federal Trial Begins for Lt. Dan Choi, Over 'DADT' Arrest at White House". Tower Road. 30 August 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "Dan Choi's Trial Begins". 30 August 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  4. ^ Lou Chibbaro, Jr. (1 September 2011). "Choi trial halted after challenge to judge’s ruling". Washington Blade. Brown, Naff, Pitts Omnimedia, Inc. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  5. ^ JESSICA GRESKO (1 November 2011). "Dan Choi Trial Over 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' White House Protest Put On Hold". Huff Post - Politics. TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  6. ^ John Riley (31 August 2011). "Lawyers Spar Over Defense as Choi Trial Grinds to Abrupt Halt". Metro Weekley - Poliglot. Jansi, LLC. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  7. ^ Anya, Callahan. "Why Gay Military Activist Lt. Dan Choi Won’t Be Paying His $100 Court Fine". Campus Progress. After more than two years of legal battles, LGBT activist Lt. Dan Choi was convicted of a misdemeanor by a federal judge and fined $100 on Thursday, March 28. Lt. Choi was tried for one count of "Failure to Obey Lawful Order" for a protesting Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) in front of the White House back in 2010. Since the judge ruled in the case, Lt. Choi has stated publicly that he won't pay the $100 fee on moral principle and free-speech grounds. 
  8. ^ Stephen C. Webster (15 November 2010). "Protesting ‘Don’t Ask’, gay activists arrested after chaining themselves to White House fence". The Raw Story. Raw Story Media, Inc. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  9. ^ SDGLN Staff (15 November 2010). "BREAKING NEWS: 13 people chain themselves to White House fence to protest DADT inaction". SDGLN.com. Hale Media, Inc. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  10. ^ Steven Thrasher (15 November 2010). "Dan Choi Off To The White House at 2PM: Handcuffs Needed?". The Village Voice. Village Voice, LLC. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  11. ^ "White House protest". YouTube. Washington Blade. 16 November 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  12. ^ Steven Portnoy and Sunlen Miller (18 March 2010). "'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Protesters Chain Themselves to White House Fence". abc News. ABC News Internet Ventures. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  13. ^ Kevin Douglas Grant (20 September 2011). "After Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: The ongoing battle". global post. GlobalPost. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  14. ^ "13 arrested during DADT protest". Air Force Times. Gannett Government Media Corporation. 15 November 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  15. ^ Brad Luna (15 November 2010). "13 Arrested at White House Fence in Protest of DADT". GetEQUAL. Get Equal. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  16. ^ Joe Sudbay (17 March 2011). "13 DADT protesters in court tomorrow facing more serious charges than standard". gay.americablog.com. ohn Aravosis. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  17. ^ David Badash (10 May 2011). "Don't Ask Don't Tell: White House Fence Protestors Have Day In Court". The New Civil Rights Movement. The New Civil Rights Movement and David Badash. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  18. ^ "Omnibus Motion In Limine – August 29th, 2011". firedoglake. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  19. ^ "Transcript: August 29, 2011 (Morning)". firedoglake. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  20. ^ "Emails Reveal White House Alerted Secret Service to Dan Choi, GetEqual Protests in November 2010". firedoglake. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  21. ^ Kerry Eleveld (4 October 2011). "The Government Cracks Down On White House Protests - But Is It Legal?". Equality Matters. Media Matters Action Network. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  22. ^ "Transcript: August 31, 2011 (Afternoon)". firedoglake. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  23. ^ Jessica Gresko (1 September 2011). "Choi Trial put on Hold in DC". Military.com - News. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  24. ^ Advocate.com Editors (1 September 2011). "Dan Choi Trial Put on Hold". Advocate. Here Media Inc. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  25. ^ Jane Hamsher (31 August 2011). "Transcript of Dan Choi Trial, Day 3: DoJ Files Writ of Mandamus Against Judge Facciola". firedoglake. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  26. ^ ERIC TUCKER (30 August 2011). "Dan Choi Testifies On White House 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Protest". Huff Post - Politics. TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  27. ^ Michael K. Lavers (18 August 2011). "Dan Choi Blasts Obama, Prepares for Trial". Edge. Boston, MA: EDGE Publications, Inc. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  28. ^ Jay Kernis (22 July 2011). "Lt. Dan Choi on his arrest in Moscow while protesting the ban on a gay rights parade". CNN. Cable News Network. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  29. ^ Yusef Najafi (14 July 2010). "Government drops all charges against Lt. Dan Choi and former Capt. James E. Pietrangelo for DADT protests". Metro Weekly. Jansi, LLC. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  30. ^ Chris Geidner (14 June 2011). "Choi White House Protest Arrest Trial Set for Aug. 29". Metro Weekly. Jansi, LLC. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  31. ^ Jane Hamsher. "Dept. of Interior Recommended Federal Charges vs. DADT Protesters – 3 Hours Before They Demonstrated". firedoglake. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  32. ^ Jane Hamsher (22 September 2011). "Emails Reveal White House Alerted Secret Service to Dan Choi, GetEqual Protests in November 2010". firedoglake. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  33. ^ Robert Feldman (11 October 2011). "Choi Legal Team Responds to DoJ Petition for Writ of Mandamus". firedoglake. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  34. ^ aguynamedwayne (23 September 2011). "Dan Choi Trial: "Dirty Hands"". The WOW Report. World Of Wonder. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  35. ^ Brian Sonenstein. "Choi Response to Writ of Mandamus". firedoglake. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  36. ^ "Gay veteran Dan Choi working to re-enlist". CBSNEWS. The Associated Press. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  37. ^ "2010-2011 Year in Review". Lt. Dan Choi. Lt. Dan Choi. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  38. ^ "CHOI v. BOND et al". Justia.com. Justia. Retrieved 7 February 2012.