READER’S EDITORIAL: AN OPEN LETTER TO CITY ATTORNEY JAN GOLDSMITH

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By Hugh Moore, El Cajon
San Diego County Green Party Treasurer
 
May 7, 2012 (San Diego)--In the case of the city against the six gay rights activists who were arrested in August of 2010 for “blocking access” to the office where people get marriage licenses I cannot understand how you can justify the expense of continuing to attempt prosecution.
 
Quoting an article in the Union Tribune (May 2, 2012, “Same-sex marriage has different day in court”) the judge presiding over the case stated “Just so you know, this prosecution will cost the taxpayers of this community thousands and thousands of dollars.”
 
The judge’s statement about the expense was made well before she was required to dismiss a complete jury and with your continued efforts to prosecute a completely new jury will have to be selected at even more cost to the taxpayers. And for what? The defendants are only charged with misdemeanors, none of them have criminal records and none of them have been arrested again since August of 2010. What is it that you feel there is to be gain by continuing to prosecute defendants who are all being defended by pro bono lawyers committed to preventing them from being found guilty because they obviously feel they are all innocent?
 
In the same Union Tribune article mentioned above you are quoted as saying that not prosecuting would set a precedent that your office “would have to dismiss all cases where protesters block public access — regardless of the cause.” Well, you know that no such precedent will be created. Choosing to not prosecute in one case does not set precedent as the choice to prosecute is solely at your discretion at all times regardless of how many times you have previously chosen to not prosecute other defendants.
 
The defendants in this case are charged with two misdemeanors resulting from their efforts to make the public aware of what they believe to be an injustice. We can all disagree if they’re actions were right or wrong but the facts since the arrests cannot be disputed. They have been denied their constitutionally guaranteed right to a speedy trail, your office attempted to have them tried by a jury of people other than their peers, another constitutional right lost, and none of them present any danger to the public. Your continued attempts to prosecute them will cost thousands more dollars and even if they are found guilty the public will be no safer (and possibly less safe in further limiting the ability to practice free speech). It is my opinion that any continued prosecution is a waste of money and if your office has a budget that allows you to waste funds then it’s time for the City Council to cut your budget so the funds can be spent on other city budget items.
 

The opinions in this editorial reflect the views of its authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org