"Irvine 11" Convictions Upheld (For Now)

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During the height of the backlash against the prosecution of the so-called "Irvine 11," I recall asking Erwin Chemerinsky if he believed convictions in the free-speech case would be upheld as constitutional, and the founding UC Irvine law school dean and respected constitutional law scholar answered they would.

On Monday, a panel of Orange County Superior Court judges agreed.

Meet the "Irvine 11" Appellate Case, Same as the "Irvine 11" Superior Court Case

The judges upheld the misdemeanor convictions of 10 Muslim students from UCI and UC Riverside for disrupting a Feb. 8, 2010, speech at UCI by invited speaker Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States. An 11th UCI student cut a plea deal before the others were found guilty.

In a ruling dated Wednesday but delivered Monday to attorneys, the judicial panel ruled Ali Mohammad Sayeed, Mohamed Mohy-Eldeeen Abdelgany, Khalid Akari, Aslam Abbasi Akhtar, Joseph Tamim Haider, Taher Herzallah, Shaheen Nassar, Mohammad Anas Qureashi, Osama Shabaik and Asaad Traina were convicted Sept. 23, 2011, because the intent of the law they broke was clear. (Hakim Nasreddine Kebir accepted a plea deal from the court and had charges against him dismissed in exchange for performing 40 hours of community service.)

The take on the disrupting-speech law the students from UCI and UC Riverside violated comes down to this: You cannot hide behind your own free-speech rights to trump those of others.

"In this case, that right of free speech extended not only to Ambassador Oren, but to the several hundred persons who had assembled to hear this presentation," reads the ruling from Superior Court judges Craig Griffin, Deborah Servino and Glenn Salter.

The judges add the prosecution proved their was intent to break the law as the students exchanged emails planning the demonstration, which had students rising one after another to shout over Oren before being escorted out of the room by campus police. The students later said they consider Oren "a war criminal" for his administrative role in an earlier siege of Palestinian neighborhoods.

Attorneys for the students still argue the law applied their clients was vague and unconstitutional. "Taking a boarder view of the question of constitutionality, it is clear that criminalizing a peaceful protest at a political meeting on a college campus flies in the face of the very purpose of the First Amendment--to promote the free exchange of ideas in a true, albeit at times messy, democracy,'' said Jacqueline Goodman, an attorney for some students, in a City News Service report.

Goodman vowed to appeal the judicial panel's ruling to the Fourth District Court of Appeals in Santa Ana.

At this point, the students fulfilled the community-service terms of their sentences, and many have already left their campuses. But the goal of the defense is to reverse their convictions.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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16 comments
cheebo1
cheebo1

Gotta love the hypocritical people who preach tolerance only to try and silence those who disagree,  I saw the video of  the shit storm they created to prevent Orem from delivering a speech he was clearly invited to do 


As the judge said: You cannot hide behind your own free-speech rights to trump those of others.

rafeh
rafeh

You can turn your back and insult our President while he is speaking. But you cant turn your back and insult the Israeli ambassador.. Free speech only for Israeli's not their opponents.

lonhall
lonhall

and who responded after 9/11 when the Islamic Center was planning to open their day care center? The Samuli Jewish Cultural Center sent men over there to encourage them to open up while they stood guard.

lonhall
lonhall

I do not agree that they should do jail time. I just wish they would realize that we (well, I) accept them and love them as my neighbors as I also do my Jewish friends.

Matthew A Meador
Matthew A Meador

Yeah it is special treatment and I think it's not funny. The only reason why Jewish people should be speaking out is on how they love JESUS CHRIST and religious freedoms to praise GODDESS how they please.Count all the mean stuff Jewish people do daily , so yeah ZIP it up ,shhhhhhh. Love, honor and respect JESUS CHRIST.

Randy Flockton
Randy Flockton

How is it special treatment? The muslims attempted to deny the "free speech" of Michael Oren. So are the muslims the only voices to be heard? They were free to protest, but they chose to disrupt. That's when things changed from free speech to civil disobedience.

Matthew A Meador
Matthew A Meador

OC Weekly Why are we giving Israelite and the Jewish community special treatment when they don't show love to JESUS CHRIST and his religions?Then they take Palestinians lands and then they hurt peoples. GIVE back Israel to Palestine.

BUBBA_B
BUBBA_B

I think we can all agree that they should have done some jail time for this. 

Jason Roberson
Jason Roberson

It would have been legal for them to stage a protest outside the building where the ambassador was speaking. But they choose to go inside and disrupt the peace.

Debaser7
Debaser7

Reading this made my day. 

Jenny Lynn
Jenny Lynn

If students can't peacefully assemble and participate in civil disobedience in an education institution THEY PAY FOR, WHERE IS IT SAFE TO DO SO IN THE UNITED STATES?!?!

cheebo1
cheebo1

@rafeh bs  I saw the video  They didn't just turn their backs.  Free speech is not coming to a meeting to create a shit storm so the invited speaker cannot be heard.  A lot of people came to hear the man speak and these jerks violated the rights of all those who came to hear him speak.

Just try going to a movie theatre, and heckling or creating a disturbance because you don't agree with the content of the movie.  You'll get thrown out of the theatre, if not arrested.

You're not free to f#ck up things for others.  The world does not revolve around your immature a$$

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

@BUBBA_B  

Well, I DON'T agree. If every person was incarcerated for essentially being rude and disrupting a speaker the jails would be overflowing. But some think these students deserve every conceivable punishment because they are on the "wrong" side of a political conflict.

cheebo1
cheebo1

Did you see the video of how these jerks disrupted the speech.  There's nothing peaceful about it.  You sound like another twit who preaches about tolerance while trying to slice all who disagree with you. 

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

@fishwithoutbicycle @BUBBA_B  Jail time is not merited for this offense.  There should be some meaningful punishment by the court to demonstrate actions carry consequences. Find an undesirable tough Community Service project and assign them to 50 hours of time there.   

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