On Monday, August 27, at 4 pm, in the Latah County Courthouse (522 South Adams Street, Moscow), Judge John Judge will preside over a jury pre-trial and motion hearing addressing pending charges against Helen Yost for allegedly throwing a protest sign at a vehicle and air-kicking (attempting assault or battery?) in the direction of a police officer, while the last two ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil tar sands megaloads crossed Moscow on March 6. (Hear an interview about the situation between 14:56 and 6:35 on the KRFP Radio Free Moscow March 8 Evening Report, Sign Throwing Charge. At a June 13 motion in limine hearing, attorney Ben Onosko representing Helen argued that the Moscow city laws under which she was cited for throwing an object at a highway vehicle do not define a module hauled on a vehicle but only describe vehicles and people in vehicles, suggesting that her charge be dropped. Prosecutor Rod Hall and the judge countered that Idaho state law clearly delineates vehicles, loads carried on such conveyances, and persons in vehicles and that Moscow city codes are subordinate to state laws.
The court issued a decision denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss the misdemeanor citation, but the prosecution re-opened a previously time-limited offer to drop the attempted battery charge if Helen would plead guilty to the sign-throwing violation. (For more information about this hearing and motion, listen to the KRFP Radio Free Moscow June 13 Evening Report between 6:44 and 5:18.) The case is scheduled for a jury trial on September 14, but Ben has negotiated a pre-trial change in terms and resolution. At this Monday’s 4 pm hearing, Helen will plead guilty to disturbing the peace instead of throwing an object at a vehicle, and the court will dismiss her attempted battery citation. Like Cass Davis and Jim Prall, she will present a statement for court records, explaining her intentions for her actions and their context. (Read a transcript of Helen Yost Sentencing Statement 8-27-12). Please consider supporting Helen with your hearing attendance, as she affirms our shared community motivations for non-violent civil disobedience to obstruct the largest climate-wrecking industrial project on Earth. She will also request a jail sentence rather than a fine for bouncing an assertive but harmless six-ounce foam-board sign reading “If one oil company is successful, many more will follow. ~Port of Lewiston” off a 415,000-pound aggressive and violent piece of tar sands processing equipment (see attached photo). Whether David’s stone ultimately toppled Goliath on Highway 95 remains to be seen (with plenty of breaking information about this later!).
Meanwhile in Kootenai County Court in Coeur d’Alene, on November 18, 2011, a prosecutor dismissed Sharon Cousins’ August 27, 2011, infraction of parking a vehicle on a controlled-access highway, and Judge Robert Caldwell ruled during an April 11, 2012, infraction court trial against Helen’s citation of failure to use a vehicle safety restraint (seat belt). Both charges resulted from Idaho State Police (ISP) officer Ronald Sutton approaching Sharon’s SUV stopped along Highway 95 about ten miles south of Coeur d’Alene, as four women monitored a megaload that had encountered a 150-person protest and six arrested blockaders on the previous night. The ISP trooper requested IDs from all of the vehicle passengers and accused Helen Yost and Cici Claar of resisting or obstructing an officer and arrested and jailed them. (Several media accounts documented the situation: the August 27 Spokesman-Review article Three More Megaload Protesters Arrested in Cd’A; the August 29 Moscow-Pullman Daily News story Megaload Monitors Arrested Saturday for Obstruction outside Coeur d’Alene; the KRFP Radio Free Moscow August 29 Morning Mix, Megaload Monitors Hauled off to Jail; and between 21:30 and 3:08 of the KRFP August 29 Evening Report, Monitor Arrest + News.)
In a misdemeanor pre-trail hearing on February 17, Spokane attorney Karen Lindholdt presented a motion to suppress Claar’s and Yost’s obstruction charges, as the arresting officer had no lawful reason, besides unwarranted parking and seat belt infractions, to ask for the passengers’ IDs. Idaho state troopers consequently violated both defendants’ Fourth Amendment protections against illegal search and seizure. Although Kootenai County Judge Caldwell dismissed the suppression motion and Cici has since dropped her case, Moscow lawyer Ben Onosko has substituted counsel on Helen’s lawsuit and, after numerous requests for discovery of the prosecution’s evidence, will propose at 10:30 am on September 5 that Judge Caldwell reconsider his decision to reject the defendant’s earlier motion to suppress and/or dismiss her obstruction charge. If this pre-trial conference and trial does not attain success, megaload monitors and our regional resistance community anticipate plenty of prevailing arguments concerning civil liberties, constitutional case law, and corporate police states at Helen’s ensuing full jury trial at the Kootenai County Courthouse (451 Government Way in Coeur d’Alene) at 8:30 am on September 17, the anniversary of Occupy (the megaload routes!).