Accused of Anti-Muslim Bias, OC District Attorney Won't Recuse Office From Prosecution of UCI 11 Protesters


moxley-confidential-todd-spitzer-tony-rackauckas-susan-kang-schroeder.5323692.40.jpg
Rackauckas: I'm not anti-Muslim
Defense lawyers in the so-called "Irvine 11" UCI protest case have accused the Orange County District Attorney's office of anti-Muslim bias and demanded that the office recuse itself from the prosecution of students who disrupted the February 2010 speech of Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren.
 
But prosecutors say they have no intent of withdrawing and in a recent court brief claimed that the defendants have offered nothing but "vague, speculative ... and unsubstantiated" statements in hopes of winning a recusal.
 
"Defendant's recusal motion should be denied on the merits because [their] claims of prosecutorial misconduct are unsubstantiated and untrue," wrote Deputy District Attorney Stephen Sauer.
 
"Defendants have failed to show that the manner in which the OCDA investigated this case was unlawful or improper," Sauer continued. "The OCDA thoroughly investigated this case, properly used search warrants, subpoenas and the grand jury where appropriate. Moreover, although the conspiracy [to disrupt Ambassador Oren's UCI speech] could have been charged as a felony, the district attorney has exercised his discretion and only charged the defendants with misdemeanors."
 
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Photo by Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
A silent protest followed March's arraignment of the "Irvine 11" at Superior Court in Santa Ana.
The defendants claim that even the way the DA's office styles the matter as the "UCI Muslim Case" in internal documents proves anti-Muslim bias.
 
"The term 'UCI Muslim' is not a disparaging or derogatory term," Sauer observed in his brief. "As the evidence demonstrates that the disruption of the Oren event was spearheaded and organized through the [Muslim Student Union], the term is not an unreasonable shorthand way for the OCDA to identity this case in its internal communications."
 
According to prosecutors, Muslim students illegally conspired in person and in online message boards to disrupt Oren's speech. A pre-speech e-mail amongst the defendants shows they planned to "disrupt the whole event" in a "Chicago-style protest" that "shuts down" the speech and shows the ambassador that "he can't just go to a campus and say whatever he wants."
 
In another e-mail, the protesters predicted they might be arrested but believed they would not be prosecuted for any crime, even misdemeanors. They also noted that, "Ideally, disruption will be throughout the whole event" including "booing followed by disruptions, then a loud walkout at the end." 
 
The defendants called their efforts a "game plan" that required secrecy and even had a "Plan B" that called on "reserve" protesters to disrupt the speech if the first group of protesters got arrested and removed, according to the DA's office.
 
Additional evidence shows that the group did not want protesters to make "on the fly statements" but rather regurgitate prepared remarks given to them on index cards.
 
Wrote Sauer, "Disruptors were instructed to be 'VERY LOUD, firm and strong. ..."
 
Prosecutors say that the group was so meticulous that it planned for "non-disruptors" sympathetic to their cause to cheer the protesters at specific times.
 
When Ambassador Oren began his speech after professor Mark Petracca urged civility, one of the defendants, Osama Ahmen Shabaik, stood and began the harassment by shouting, "Michael Oren, propagating murder is not free speech!" Then a series of other students stood and shouted other statements such as, "Michael Oren, you are a war criminal," "It's a shame this university has sponsored a mass murderer like yourself" and "You sir, are an accomplice to genocide."

The defendants claim that, as a military communications officer, Oren participated in the deaths of Palestinians on the Gaza Strip in 2009.
 
The case, which is being prosecuted by Assistant DA Dan Wagner, is in the pretrial stage in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana. At each hearing, dozens of people show up at the courthouse to show their support for the accused students. They are demanding that the DA's office drop the case.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly


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42 comments
Easandoval
Easandoval

"According to prosecutors, Muslim students illegally conspired in person and in online message boards to disrupt Oren's speech. A pre-speech e-mail amongst the defendants shows they planned to "disrupt the whole event" in a "Chicago-style protest" that "shuts down" the speech and shows the ambassador that "he can't just go to a campus and say whatever he wants.”

If these students don’t want to be called “Muslims” what else do they want to be called? Aren’t they themeselves saying that they were discriminated because they are Muslims? Now, didn’t they discriminated the Ambassador also because he is a Jew? These people commit crimes in our country then they want to use our court system waisting our tax payers money to advance they Muslim ideology. We better wake up and stand up against their ideology.

Light, Truth, and Honesty
Light, Truth, and Honesty

Let's call a spade a spade. A university "Muslim group" broke the law so the procecutors were right in calling this case the "UCI Muslim Case". This group was caught in illegal activity and is now being held accountable for their own actions; I'm assuming they're not happy about this so now they're wrongfully accusing the Orange County District Attorney's office of being anti-Muslim, because the case is labled the "UCI Muslim Case". I think it's time for this particular Muslim group to grow up.

Light, Truth, and Honesty
Light, Truth, and Honesty

Lets be honest and call a spade a spade: it was an organized "Muslim group" that broke the law. The procecutors called it right by labeling the case the "UCI Muslim Case". Because the defense is so weak the "organized Muslim group" is trying to create a diversion by saying the Orange County District Attorney's office is biased against Muslims. The "Muslim group" did wrong and should be held accountable for their illegal activity.

light, truth, and justice
light, truth, and justice

Lets be honest and call a spade a spade: it was an organized "Muslim group" that broke the law. The procecutors called it right by calling it the "UCI Muslim Case".

Light,truth, and justice
Light,truth, and justice

Lets be honest and call a spade a spade: it was a "Muslim protest group" that broke the law. The procecutors called it right by calling it the "UCI Muslim Case".

Slottogpw
Slottogpw

Attorney's desperate smear tactic for trying to steer away from this TRUTH...the bottom-line...they broke the LAW...regardless of their background.

redsoxpagan
redsoxpagan

So, let me get this straight: When people protested Iranian president Imanutjob, no biggie. Good.People protest racist, apartheid, ethnic cleansing mouthpiece Israeli ambassador, and suddenly the first amendment is illegal. PatheticObviously the prosecutor is a hack trying to gain political points.

anon
anon

"regurgitate"???

Does the author know that word means "to vomit"?

Bfreesun
Bfreesun

Since when is organizing a protest a conspiracy and a crime?

Slottogpw
Slottogpw

Their defense attorney's tactic: blow smoke screens to divert from the truth...they broke the law. Furthermore, these students disrespect the USA and Israel at their lunch time protests at UCI.

Newportblue65
Newportblue65

The law finally wakes up! With a record they will never get a job!

Redhog
Redhog

These Muslim students seemed to be quite proud to be Muslims yet complain about the Muslim reference in the DA's internal comments. I find it insulting and rude that they are attempting to paint the DA as anti-Muslim simply on that reference. It has become obvious the anti-Muslim cry is no more than a tool cunning Muslims use to distract attention. Which says volumes about these students, who seem quite unrepentive and very cunning.

Mindy Gulati
Mindy Gulati

Race and religion are the heart of why the D.A. is pursuing this case. Student dissent is a fixture on college campuses and never before has speech been prosecuted in this way. You may not agree with the Muslim students or their stance on Mr. Oren, but you should be highly suspicious when law enforcement prosecutes free thoughts and ideas. This case will affect all of us.

Just the facts
Just the facts

Why is it that the "religious bias" or "racism" card is always played by the accused as a means to try and avoid having to prove their case?

The facts do not look at race, religion or gender. If you have facts the DA missed/overlooked/skipped, give them to the defense. If not, move on.

muslima
muslima

Hmmm looks to me like a peaceable demonstration by Muslims. I see no violence, and another thing I don't see : Any other criminal cases handled by the OCDA where the defendant's religion is part of the name of the case. What's up with that OCDA?

llahu khanzyr
llahu khanzyr

I like the tape over the mouth look. It's quite becoming and indicates submission to Islam.

muslima
muslima

Maybe you have never seen an organized protest before? Generally when people organize a protest they plan it. The intent of a protest is to disrupt whatever they deem is offensive. In this case, its the ambassador to Israel. Maybe you should do some research into protests and see what they are all about.How about calling them students? If they were anything but Muslim they would not call the case the UCI Christian / Jewish / Buddhist / Shinto / LDS / Whatever...do you get the point yet?

muslima
muslima

It was a group of students who just happen to be Muslim. Maybe they could have called it a student protest case, or UCI protest case, or UCI Israeli protest case...any number of different words work for this...but no, they used the hate the Muslim card again.

muslima
muslima

Since the people that did this are Muslims.

Bfreesun
Bfreesun

Disrespecting Israel is a crime?

muslima
muslima

You're ignorant of the laws of your own country. Sure they will get a job, even with a misdemeanor conviction. Misdemeanors mean nothing to employers. If they did then half the US would not be employed right now, and your local Wal Mart would have no employees.When you get into felony convictions that is a different story, but these kids are not charged with felonies.

muslima
muslima

Cunning? Please do not speak about what you don't know about. I would dare say that these kids are far more innocent than American kids their age. Try being a Muslim in an anti-Muslim country for a day and see how it feels. YOU have no clue.Yes they are proud to be Muslims, what does that have to do with the reference to their religion in the style of the case?

Bfreesun
Bfreesun

If they were Jews and the case file was marked Jews would you feel the same way?

muslima
muslima

You are immature and racist, and so is whoever "liked" your post.

thesirlancelot
thesirlancelot

And you are vile to get turned on by young girls with strips on their mouths.

muslima
muslima

It sure looks like it is a case of Islamophobia to me. The OCDA is making an example out of Muslim students because they are afraid of Islam. Sorry OCDA, even Muslims who live in the US have the right to speak freely and express opinions peacefully. I would be very surprised if any of these Muslim students have any type of criminal record. I am also pretty sure that they are excellent students who know what's going on in their world.

Yet another example of the US taking aim at Palestine while holding Israel's smoking gun.

muslima
muslima

Show me a case where the defendant's religion is mentioned in the case style. Then I will move on.

Bored_Now
Bored_Now

I also don't see a lot of cases where the religion of the accused should give them a pass on breaking the law.

muslima
muslima

Please do not judge my religion. This has nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with 1st Amendment rights being denied.That is very rude of you to say, and who are you to judge anyone.

Dan
Dan

This was not a simple "protest." They could have marched at the entrance. Handed out flyers. Instead, they TRAMPLED on Michael Oren's right to speak. THAT is against the law. They LIED ABOUT IT TO THE DA! That is against the law. It's not because they're Muslim, as much as you want to make that the reason. Sheesh!

The reason the DA calls it a Muslim case is because they are self-described MSU members. Don't blame the DA, blame the defendants!

Rayen
Rayen

Wrong country, Babe - conspiring and disrupting is illegal here. Legal protesters would have been outside enjoying their free speech, and not interfering with the free speech of the lecturer. But you already know that and are using this forum to further your own agenda. Also, it is beyond disingenuous to feign ethnic discrimination when a group that identifies itself as 'Muslim' is then referred to as 'Muslim.' What you and your ilk do not understand is that these conniving behaviors do the exact opposite of eliciting sympathy for your cause.

Light, Truth, and Honesty
Light, Truth, and Honesty

Because, as the evidence demonstrates, the disruption of the Oren event was spearheaded and organized through the "Muslim Student Union". They don't call themselves part of the student union, they say the are part of the "Muslim" student union.

Dan
Dan

oh STOP IT ALREADY. they TRAMPLED on Michael Oren's right to speak. THAT is against the law. They LIED ABOUT IT TO THE DA! That is against the law. It's not because they're Muslim, as much as you want to make that the reason. Sheesh!

Light, Truth, and Honesty
Light, Truth, and Honesty

Genesis 12:1-3 And I (God) will bless those that bless you (Israel) and curse those who curses you. And in you (Israel) shall all families of the earth be blessed.

muslima
muslima

I absolutely would. Religion has no place in the style of the case. It has nothing to do with what their religion is. BTW I think you gave a bad example...Jews would not be protesting about the Israeli ambassador, they would be cheering. Duh.

thesirlancelot
thesirlancelot

How did they break the law? Isn't what they are doing the very same as Jones and that Church against Gays? What is the difference? Did they incite murder and carnage / was it peaceful? Why one set of Rules for Americans and another set of Moslems?

muslima
muslima

Come on, it was a peaceable demonstration, well organized without violence. The most that should have happened was they should have been removed.This is taking it way too far....and wasting taxpayer money too.

thesirlancelot
thesirlancelot

hmmmmm - how come Jones and that Baptist Church could get away with it and these kids are held accountable - are these double standards here? I thought it was all about Freedom of Speech!

From what I gather there was no violence - or do I stand corrected?

muslima
muslima

First of all. please do not disrespect me..I am not your babe. Second of all, I am not using this forum to further my own agenda. My agenda is the fact that nobody can show me ONE other case where the defendant's religion is mentioned in the case style.Thirdly, the OCDA is making an example of these kids, when it really is not necessary.This is wasting time of the courts, the prosecutors, the defense and most importantly, the taxpayer's money!Nobody is looking for any sympathy for any "cause", especially not me. I for one am glad I do not live in Orange county...It's not my money they're wasting!

Dan
Dan

Michael Oren was invited to speak. 5-700 people showed up to hear. This group of 11 people conspired to prevent that. They were successful in their conspiracy. They could have exercised their right to free speech by protesting outside the auditorium or challenging him during the Q&A. Instead, they prevented him from exercising his right to free speech. That's against the law. Then, they lied about how it was a coordinated, planned conspiracy to do so. That's also against the law.

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