The Woman Arrested for Laughing at Jeff Sessions Just Had Her Conviction Thrown Out
Another protester escorted out of Sessions hearing. Her original offense appeared to be simply laughing. pic.twitter.com/p6lWzBVFRW
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) January 10, 2017
For those of us who were terrified by the idea of living in a country where you could be arrested for laughing, there’s some good news today. Desiree Fairooz, the Code Pink activist who was arrested and subsequently convicted of disruptive conduct after laughing during Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing, has had her conviction thrown out.
Fairooz laughed and scoffed a number of times during the hearing and was warned to stop. But when one senator said noted bigot and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions had a history of “treating all Americans equally under the law,” she laughed loudly. As she was being arrested, she began shouting.
“Why am I being taken out of here? This man is evil,” she yelled. “You’re evil! Do not vote for Jeff Sessions! I was going to be quiet, now you’re gonna have me arrested? For what, for what? You said something ridiculous! His voting record is evil.”
Multiple jurors said they thought the arresting officer–who, by the way, had never made an arrest nor worked a Congressional hearing before–made a mistake, and that they did not think Fairooz should have been arrested. Still, they found her guilty, with the jury foreman saying their verdict was based not on her laughter, but on her behavior during the arrest.
However, the Justice Department attorneys had argued during the trial that Fairooz’ laughter would have been enough to warrant a conviction, and the judge who ruled over the case says now he finds that “disconcerting.” He said, “The court is concerned about the government’s theory,” and definitively stated the laughter “would not be sufficient” to submit the case to the jury, and said the government’s attorneys hadn’t made it clear before the trial that they would be arguing otherwise.
This isn’t the end for this case. The judge will set up a new trial to re-try Fairooz. But it’s still heartening to hear a judge confirm that no, laughing is not grounds for arrest, not even when Jeff Sessions is involved.
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