Naked Pumpkin Runner Hearings: Dec 17 and Jan 12

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 city’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.

The hearings will happen at the Justice Center, 6th & Canyon, Boulder. (Map)

I’m encouraging people interested in justice for these defendants to please attend and observe these hearings.

Here’s what to do…

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

7 thoughts on Naked Pumpkin Runner Hearings: Dec 17 and Jan 12

  1. Perhaps it’s already been discussed here, and I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that the whole thing should be thrown out by any competent judge. After all, the very definition of indecent exposure according to CO state law is “A person commits indecent exposure if he knowingly exposes his genitals to the view of any person under circumstances in which such conduct is likely to cause affront or alarm to the other person” When the event is a known and accepted tradition, it seems patently obvious that it is not a behavior “likely to cause affront or alarm” I say get a good lawyer, have the whole thing thrown out on this basis, and punish the Boulder police with a wrongful arrest lawsuit. Not a lawyer, but my two cents.

  2. Thanks for keeping us informed. Seems like another law passed withed good intentions but lack of forethought. I never would have thought that “streaking” was a sexual offense. I hope the justice system can find some way to assure that a dozen people engaging in, from what I hear, is a local festive tradition are not labeled for life.

  3. Apple — Yeah, why I’m pressing this issue.

    As I wrote on Nov. 2, a citation of indecent exposure does not seem appropriate for this offense for the reason you describe. But also, the mandatory sex offender registration a conviction on this charge would entail would cause these defendants lifelong, serious problems — which makes the punishment grossly disproportionate.

    And, as I wrote Nov. 5, the Boulder Police did have another option: They could have opted to cite the streakers for disorderly conduct. This would have allowed them to use law enforcement to discourage people from streaking and thus “keep the event from getting out of hand” (which is what Boulder police chief Mark Beckner said was the reason for the crackdown), without wrecking people’s lives.

    Yes, it’s possible the judge will throw this out. It’s even more likely these charges will be plea-bargained down. I hope so. But even so, why should our police be allowed to bully people in such a dire way?

    – Amy Gahran

  4. The Boulder PD want to make an example of these twelve, in order to deter runners next year. In my mind, the important question to ask is: how strong is the Boulder PD’s influence on the court?

  5. Pingback: Naked Pumpkin Run Update (11/6) | Xotton Magazine

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