One nice thing about our legal system is that, with a few exceptions, arraignment hearings are public. Anyone — even you! — can attend and observe. Simply having extra eyeballs present in the courtroom, just watching, can encourage judges, lawyers, and cops to apply extra care and common sense in the legal process.
This is why, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve been tracking the legal process related to the 12 indecent exposure citations which Boulder police issued to participants in the 10th annual Naked Pumpkin Run late on Halloween night — a jubilant, silly, nonsexual event enjoyed each year by crowds of locals on Boulder’s Pearl St. Mall. If convicted on this charge, all 12 defendants would be required to register as sex offenders. (Under Colorado law, judges appear to have no room to waive that requirement for adults.)
I saw today that the Daily Camera added court date information to its Nov. 4 story about the the upcoming hearings in these cases:
“Because indecent exposure is a state violation, the cases will be heard in Boulder County Court, not the cityâ€™s municipal court. Ten of those cited have a Dec. 17 court date. The other two have a Jan. 12 date.”
As I noted earlier, I’ve been calling the local courts to try to find out exactly when and where these hearings will be held. It was pretty confusing, because neither the county nor the municipal court so far (even as of today) has any record of these cases. Then a woman at the county court suggested that maybe the police hadn’t yet sent the tickets to the courts.
Indeed, that’s the case here. I just called the Boulder police, and confirmed that as of today the police have not sent the tickets to the court. However, I did verify that these cases will be heard in county court, on Dec. 17 and Jan. 12.
I’m encouraging people interested in justice for these defendants to please attend and observe these hearings.
Here’s what to do…
- Call the Boulder County court (303-441-3750) a day or two in advance. Check on which court room and time has been assigned for these hearings.
- Arrive at the courthouse at lease 30-45 minutes early. You’ll have to go through a metal detector and bag search, and sign in. Bring ID in case you need it.
- Do wear clothes! (Hey, in this case, it bears mentioning, hehehe….) Use common sense when choosing attire, and remember that your appearance may reflect on the defendants.
- Do take notes, and pay attention. Turn off your cell phone, take out your earbuds, keep your eyes open and mouth closed, and write down what happens. Make it very obvious that you are very interested in these proceedings. Watch especially for plea bargains and motions to dismiss.
- Protests or outbursts are not appropriate in the courtroom. Protest is an important tool for raising awareness and an exercise of free speech. If you want to protest, I recommend doing that outside the courtroom. Inside, it won’t help, and it can hurt. Simply being a calm, civil observer in the courtroom is an important civic role — one that judges, lawyers, and cops are more likely to notice and less likely to discount.
I plan to attend and blog both hearings. If you’re going, please look for me, and say hi. I’ll want company.