Over 16 months after the January 2009 Oakland rebellions following the killing of Oscar Grant, those facing various felony charges have gotten off without jail time. However, Drew Lewis and Holly Works still have probation, fines and misdemeanor charges pending.
According to attorney Marlon Monroe, who represented Drew as well as JR Valrey, whose charges were dropped completely: “The most important thing is for them to get back to living their lives.” Though it was a long turbulent road for all three defendants, the news is well-timed for those who are still outraged by this and other police injustice as they follow the trial of ex-BART Police officer Johannes Mehserle, which just started this week in Los Angeles.
Until May 10th 2010, a few weeks before the unprecedented Mehserle trial began, Holly Works was facing up to 6 years in prison for felony assault on an officer with a deadly weapon. In previous pre-trial hearings she had refused an offer which would have required her to take a felony on her record. Last month, Holly was offered a plea by Judge Jacobson, in which her charge would be dropped to a misdemeanor. Holly accepted the conditions set by the judge, averting the possibility of jail time and a drawn-out trial.
“Five cops said she attacked this policeman with a screwdriver. If they really believed that they wouldn’t have given her this offer,” said Holly’s attorney, Stuart Hanlon, a pro-bono lawyer appointed by the National Lawyers Guild. “Everybody knew that the case was fabricated but the cops weren’t going to back off,” Hanlon made clear.
For Holly, “it feels great to be out from under the pressure, to not be looking at the brick wall of prison instead of my future; however it felt like a bit of a defeat to admit to something I did not do.” The conditions of the plea are that Holly must come to court probation and not be arrested for one year, and return in exactly one year for sentencing. If the requirements are met, the charge will be dropped to a misdemeanor. All in all, both Holly and Mr. Hanlon thought the conditions were favorable. “Courts are not where you win victories. In court we can only limit the damages,” asserted Mr. Hanlon.
Also charged with a felony arson was journalist and activist JR Valrey. On February 22nd, in a courtroom overflowing with supporters, a stand-in for the prosecution in The People vs. Valrey stood before the judge and made his motion: “No additional evidence was obtained so we have a motion to dismiss based on lack of sufficient evidence.”
“It was a surprise that my case got dropped after fighting it for 13 months,” said Valrey. “The courts, police, and the state are trying to do everything they can to paint Oscar Grant and the people that were protesting as criminals, instead of the police officers, the real criminals, that were responsible for taking Oscar Grant’s life”
A third felony case, that of defendant Drew Lewis, will be “resolved favorably pending his ability to pay a restitution fine to the court,” according to Drew’s attorney, Marlon Monroe.
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