UPDATE: My trial has been postponed until February or March, because there are so many court cases. Shirley’s trial is now scheduled for Jan. 31, together with Janie and Christy’s. Their trials could be postponed as well.
As the New Year approaches, four of us from Nevada County who were arrested in November during a nonviolent action near Standing Rock are preparing to return to North Dakota in January for trial. The lawyers we have retained are in touch with the Water Protectors Legal Collective, the legal team that bailed us out of jail and keeps us updated about trials related to Standing Rock.
My trial is scheduled for January 13, so it’s coming up soon. My lawyer is trying to have it rescheduled to January 31, so I can travel and go to court with Janie and Christy, whose trials are scheduled for that date. Shirley’s trial has not yet been scheduled. Evidently the courts are overwhelmed, so my lawyer says that some of our cases may be postponed or even dropped.
But trials are moving forward. According to the Water Protectors Legal Collective, “Criminal prosecutions of the over 500 Water Protectors who have been arrested since August are moving forward rapidly, amidst an extremely hostile criminal legal system. Hundreds of Water Protectors will be in court during the next few weeks.”
The first trials related to Standing Rock were held these last two weeks of December. The first case was continued because the prosecutor had failed to provide the defense team with evidence that could exonerate the defendants. Several other cases were continued due to the holidays and the difficulty of getting to court because of the recent blizzard. On December 20, those who appeared had a jury trial, were found guilty, and were sentenced to 10 days in jail. All 10 days were suspended for those willing to pay $500 to Morton County and $500 in court costs. According to the Legal Collective, “Though disappointing, the sentence is much better than the plea bargain the prosecution had offered prior to trial.”
We will see how these cases proceed. Each case is different, and the charges vary. I am charged with “obstructing a government function” (I thought I was obstructing a corporate function). It is a Class A misdemeanor, the most serious, carrying a penalty of up to one year in jail, though I doubt that the sentence will be that harsh.
I welcome the opportunity to “speak truth to power” through the court system in support of the water protectors at Standing Rock. By standing up for what we believe and refusing to be intimidated, we discover the strength we have. By acting for justice in solidarity with others, the way forward becomes clear. Both personal and social transformation become possible and hope becomes a reality.
For those who are able to make a year-end donation:
Donate to the Crowdfunding Site for our Legal Fees. This is tax-deductible because it is being administered through local nonprofit Earth Justice Ministries. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we are close to our goal of raising enough money to pay the up-front fees for our lawyers. Additional funds will go towards travel and lodging as we return to stand trial. Funds that we don’t need for our trials will be donated to the Water Protectors Legal Collective.
Donate to the Water Protectors Legal Collective, which paid our bail, are working with our lawyers, and are keeping us updated about trials related to Standing Rock. They are also raising money to assist people with travel and housing who need to return to stand trial.
Donate to the Oceti Sakowin Camp, the main camp at Standing Rock. As of today, they are not accepting any physical donations except firewood and cash.
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Find previous blog postings about Standing Rock.