Fact Sheet on the Arrest, Trial and Conviction of Carol Fisher
Monday, May. 22, 2006 at 10:52 PM
Fact Sheet on the Arrest, Trial and Conviction of Carol Fisher
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The Current Situation:
*Carol has been convicted of two counts of felony
assault on a police officer. Her sentencing is June 2 at 10:00 on the 21st floor of Cleveland's Justice Center, downtown at Lakeside and Ontario. A rally will be held at the Ontario side of the Justice Center at 9:00 am that day, and the public is encouraged to be there in her support.
*She is facing a maximum of three years in jail with
a fine of several thousand dollars. After the guilty verdict, Judge McGinty told her, "When you come to the sentencing, be prepared to apologize and admit you were wrong, or bring your toothbrush-you are going to jail." She has nothing to apologize for and is not guilty as charged.
*The case will be appealed.
*On January 28 2006, Carol was stapling posters on
telephone poles on Lee Road at Meadowbrook in Cleveland Heights when she saw a police officer across the street telling her that posting was illegal. She did not know it was illegal. She put away her posters and walked toward her car. When the officer said, "$100 fine unless you take the posters down", she turned back. According to the officer's own
testimony, when he told her to take down the posters, she said she would. Before she could reach the telephone pole, the officer approached her, put his hand on her coat sleeve and backed her up against a store window. He asked for ID and she said she did not have ID, thinking it was in her purse in her car. Without further discussion, he grabbed her arm and
cuffed one hand. Carol repeated that she would take down the posters, but the officer continued to restrain her, and Carol called out in protest to bystanders.
*The law allows limited conditions in which an arrest
can be made for a minor misdemeanor, or ticketable offense. The only relevant condition in this case is "refusal to provide identification". But Carol never refused to provide ID; she never had a chance to look for any on her person, was never asked her name or address, was never asked to go to her car to get ID. The officer did not attempt to establish identification, never said he was going to write a ticket, never presented a ticket, never said he was going to arrest
her or why, and never read the Miranda rights. He grabbed her and cuffed her. He did not follow proper procedure, and Carol was resisting an unlawful arrest, which she had a legal right to do. She never made any aggressive moves; the officer initiated physical contact.
*The officer's partner arrived on the scene and Carol
was thrown face down on the sidewalk with one cop's knee in her back and her face held to the ground. She was handcuffed and her legs were shackled. Additional backup arrived.
*After she was restrained, the arresting officer
said, "I am sick and tired of this anti-Bush shit." Another cop said, "Shut up or I'll kill you". The officers said "she is definitely crazy, we should send her to the psych ward."
*An emergency medical vehicle took her to the
hospital. She was not allowed a phone call. A sympathetic fire dept. paramedic made a phone call for her, which was the only way anyone knew where she was. Her friends and doctor were never permitted to see her or informed about what had
happened or told about her physical condition. They were threatened with arrest in the emergency room lobby.
*At the emergency room, Carol was forced to undress
in front of four male police officers. She was held for 6
hours. She was subjected to a psychiatric evaluation and was deemed fit to be released, taken to the police station for booking and sent home. She was charged with two counts of felony assault.
*Carol had bruises covering two-thirds of her forearms, abrasions on her face and chin, a cut on her lip and bruises on her forehead, shoulder, and knees.
*On Feb 6, supporters of World Cant Wait and concerned others attended a Cleveland Hts City Council meeting and many spoke on her behalf, protested the malicious behavior of the cops in Carol's arrest and in general, the political
intent of intimidation by the arresting officer because of his stated opposition to Bush protesters. People also expressed deep concerns about the implications of this country heading toward fascism. Carol also spoke. The demand was made that any charges should be dropped. The Mayor responded to all
this with a pre-written statement condemning Carol's behavior, praising the police and confirmed the 2 felony assault indictments. (text of this meeting can be viewed at the City of Cleveland Heights website, council meetings)
*Carol lost her job as a result of the arrest and has
been sustained by contributions from friends and supporters.
*At the first of 4 pre-trial conferences, the judge said that he thought a person must be mentally unstable to
have assaulted these police officers and urged mental evaluation.
*At each of the pre-trial conferences, Carol was pressured to accept a deal of resisting arrest, apologizing to the officers and to be liable for any expenses. She refused on grounds that the arrest was unlawful.
*The defense submitted a motion to dismiss at the
trial because the arrest was illegal. This dismissal was refused by the judge and the jury never knew that it had been presented.
*No political T-shirts were allowed to be visible in
the courtroom. Spectators were threatened with eviction or even arrest for the slightest facial expression or gestures.
*Judge McGinty confined the facts of the trial to the
moments leading up to the arrest and 2 to 3 minutes following.
The jury never heard about Carol’s treatment at the emergency room. They were only allowed to hear one fourth of the testimony of the sympathetic paramedic. No political context was allowed in testimony, except where the prosecution tried to portray her as a fanatic.
*The jury included at least 4 people in law enforcement or closely related to law enforcement.
*The 3 cop’s testimony of the arrest conflicted with
each other and contained entirely unsubstantiated evidence of bites and blows to the cops, including descriptions that were not in the police report. No photos of injuries or evidence of damage was presented except three tiny marks on one cop’s
*The 4 witnesses to the arrest were approached by
police the next day, and up to the trial were heavily coached with up to 4 or five visits by police and detectives, as shown in defense cross-examination.
*Carol was subjected to a two hour cross-examination by the prosecution in an attempt to wear her down and trap her or cause her to lose her temper to make her fit the crazy woman profile, to no avail.
*The prosecution maintained in the closing argument
that the 4 witnesses corroborated the cops’ stories. But no witness offered any testimony of assault. Two witnesses testified to resisting; one witness said that Carol was rude to the policeman. One woman spoke of the brutal treatment to Carol by police.
In the media after the trial, the judge also lied that the
witnesses backed up the police claim of assault.
*The prosecution stated in their closing argument
that the police had a right to arrest Carol. The judge would not allow instruction to the jury about legal grounds of arrest for a minor misdemeanor, or the law on resisting an illegal arrest.
*The jury deliberated for 10 hours before the guilty
verdict. At the polling of the jury, one person turned his head away after saying “Guilty” and covered his face with obvious signs of regret.
*After the verdict, the judge ordered a psychiatric
evaluation and a pre-sentencing investigation was agreed upon to determine the possibility of probation.
*Judge McGinty told Carol after the guilty verdict,
“When you come for sentencing, be prepared to apologize and admit you were wrong, or bring your toothbrush, you are going to jail.”
*The verdict will be appealed.
*Carol sent a letter to the judge refusing a
psychiatric evaluation and pre-sentencing investigation once she realized the invasive extent of the procedures. She maintained that any information obtained “can, has and will be used against me”. She objected to the implication of dissidents being labeled crazy.
The judge remanded her to jail in the mental health
unit and put her under suicide watch.
*Carol was told in jail that if she did not allow a psych interview and pre-sentence investigation, she would be sent to North Coast Mental Institution for a 20 day
evaluation. With objections, she submitted to a brief
interview with state sponsored psychiatrists and an interview with probation officer. She was released after 3 days. Carol says that she regrets having allowed the psychiatrists to interview her because of the dangerous precedent it sets for the courts and police to apply the label of mental problems in
political cases, and to use this as further intimidation and aggravated punishment.
*Since the day of the arrest, support has been strong
and growing for Carol, and word of her case has traveled the internet with extensive debate on many blogs and websites, especially since the question of psychiatric evaluation became an issue.
*Carol’s attorneys, Terry Gilbert and Dan Shields,
are working pro-bono. Donations thus far have covered the costs of the trial but ongoing expenses will mount for the appeal, including to obtain a copy of the trial transcript.
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