Upcoming Court Dates
To verify each of these dates in advance of coming to court, see the Mendocino County Court Calendar.
28th: Mark Herbert pre-trial hearing, 1:30 p.m.
Current Cases Overview
Since the day construction of the Caltrans Willits Bypass began in earnest — March 21st, 2013 — the California Highway Patrol have carried out about 50 arrests of Bypass protesters, on charges ranging from trespassing, to resisting arrest, to walking on the wrong side of the street. In several cases, these protesters’ principled acts of resistance to the highly destructive, illegal, and ill-conceived highway project have led to aggressive prosecution by the Mendocino County District Attorney’s office.
At one time, the DA is pursuing charges against six people related to their Bypass opposition. Five of these cases have settled; one remains. All five cases that have settled still have not resolved the “criminal restitution” aspect, however. All court appearances take place at the Mendocino County Superior Court building in Ukiah (100 N. State St.) and are open to the public, unless otherwise noted.
* Will Parrish: The most draconian charges were pursued against this Ukiah-based journalist and political activist, mainly due to his more than 11-day occupation of the wick drain “stitcher” machine. Caltrans’ contractors used this machinery in a primary stage of their drying out and compaction of the Little Lake wetlands this past spring through summer. Will faced 17 misdemeanors, which carry a maximum sentence of more than eight years in jail, and $490,002 in restitution fees. Will settled his case, but still has a restitution hearing scheduled in April.
* Lucy Neely and Peggy Backup: Lucy and Peggy were arrested on September 16th after locking down to a dump truck in the area where Caltrans/FlatIron/DeSilva Gates were loading soil near the southern part of the Bypass “bootprint” to dump on the Little Lake wetlands and activate the wick drains. This action delayed the filling operation by about two hours, immoblizing all 70 (close estimate) of the dump trucks for that time. The action was designed in part to call attention to the ongoing toxic cover-up of Little Lake wetlands with contaminated fill. Each woman accepted a plea bargain from the Mendocino County District Attorney that includes a $7,000 cap on restitution, probation, and an order to stay away from the Willits Bypass. They have yet to have their restitution hearing.
* Mark “Falcon” Herbert: Herbert carried out a tree sit for six days across Highway 101 from The Warbler’s perch, before being extracted on April 2nd. Herbert was recently informed he has an outstanding bench warrant related to the tree sit during a traffic stop. Falcon carried out a tree sit for six days across Highway 101 from The Warbler’s perch, before being extracted on April 2nd. He has a pre-trial hearing scheduled on March 28th.
* Feather and Earthworm: On November 21st, Feather and Earthworm accepted a plea bargain that includes 200 hours of community service each and unspecified damages. The amount of restitution they agree to pay will be based on a restitution hearing presided over by their judge, Anne Moorman, which has not been scheduled as of this writing. These two local residents had, like Neely and Backup, locked down to dump trucks to immobilize the Caltrans filling of Little Lake.
Why Prisoner/Legal Support Is Important
First, for an excellent overview of the importance of prisoner/legal support written by a collective of supporters of the campaign to defend Little Lake Valley, please see the “Support Prisoners” page on the Earth First! Humboldt web site.
Going to court on charges stemming from civil disobedience is an extension of the action that led to the arrest. In some views, being heard in court is the ultimate purpose of the arrest, offering the chance to bring the protesters’ message to the broadest public and highest locally accessible, civic venue. As such, it is intrinsically worthy of support, but there are many other good reasons, too. These are just a few of them.
Support = Solidarity: The effort we make to show up tells the activist/defendant they’re not alone and that their actions are valued and remembered by the group.
Input and Strategy: Two heads are always better than one and (with consensus process) more heads are even better. We’re all in this together and the outcomes of our individual actions, i.e. possible fines, probation, stay away orders and the like are everyone’s business because they affect us all, indeed the whole campaign. *
Safety in Numbers: As with actions, defendant/activists appearing alone in court may be perceived as weak and are more vulnerable to mistreatment than when accompanied by witnesses.
Perseverance Wins Respect Our consistent public presence and obvious time commitment demonstrate in themselves that we haven’t given up, still believe in our cause and still have a case of our own to make. Our proven ability to turn out and to generate coverage is a harbinger of the trial and should be part of the D.A.’s mix of consideration as he decides how to handle these cases.
One more reason: if we wait until trial to go to court, the day may never come since many cases settle before trial. In that scenario, all the above options are lost.
Past Legal/Jail Support
* Martin “Reign” Katz: Katz sat in a ponderosa pine along the Willits Bypass route for roughly 15 days in March and April. Jailed for 2.5 months in connection with the extraction of the original five Willits tree sits, Katz was accused of assaulting a police officer during the extraction. In what may have been a first for a tree sitter in the United States, Katz was shot several times with bean bag pellets during the extraction process by a member of the California Highway Patrol’s SWAT team.