In October of 2009, Carrie Feldman was subpoenaed to a grand jury investigating an Animal Liberation Front (ALF) raid that occurred at the University of Iowa in 2004, when she was a high school student in Minnesota. Two days after receiving the subpoena, she appeared before the grand jury in Davenport, IA, and informed the prosecutor and jurors that she would not be testifying, citing the historical use of grand juries to repress political movements. At that point, she was issued a new subpoena for the next month and told to return.
In November of 2009, Scott DeMuth (who was 17 and also residing in Minnesota at the time of the UofI raid) was subpoenaed to the same grand jury. A few days later, both Carrie and Scott traveled to Iowa and refused to testify. The two were immediately taken before a judge, who found cause to jail them for civil contempt of court because of their refusal to cooperate.
Carrie was jailed in Southern Iowa for four months. On March 19, 2010, she was suddenly released with no real explanation, having steadfastly refused to cooperate with the grand jury in any way.
Scott was taken into custody at the same time as Carrie for civil contempt of court but, on November 18, 2009, he was indicted for conspiracy under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). Two weeks later, he was released with an electronic monitoring bracelet pending his trial. At DeMuth’s pretrial hearings, federal prosecutor Cliff Cronk argued that DeMuth is “an anarchist and therefore a domestic terrorist,” logic that would render untold thousands of U.S. political organizers terrorists. Cronk’s vague indictment relied almost exclusively on DeMuth’s political beliefs, such as his support for other political prisoners, rather than evidence that would actually connect him to the 2004 ALF raid at the UofI.
Scott’s attorneys challenges to the vagueness of the indictment were rendered moot by two superseding indictments, one in February and one in April of 2010; the first superseding indictment was only marginally different than the original one. The trial was postponed repeatedly, and continuing raids and harassment made it clear that the government was stalling with Scott’s case while they continued their investigation into the 2004 raid. When Scott was re-indicted again in April 2010, the new indictment contained a new allegation, this one of involvement in a separate ALF action that occurred in Minnesota in spring of 2006. Though the prosecutor seemed poised to make an argument connecting all ALF actions across the years and across the country under a single conspiracy, there appears to have been no real connection between the two actions.
Scott’s trial was set to begin on September 14, 2010, the day after his final pre-trial hearing. Weeks before hand, the prosecution subpoenaed Carrie and another Twin Cities resident, Sonja Silvernail, to testify at the trial. While Scott and his legal team prepared to counter politically-motivated accusations of terrorism before a jury, Carrie and Sonja decided they would refuse to testify and prepared for the possibility that they would be jailed indefinitely on criminal contempt of court as a result. On September 13th, halfway through Scott’s pre-trial hearing, Cronk offered a plea agreement where Scott would plead guilty to a lesser included charge relating to the 2006 Minnesota action and serve a short prison sentence. As detailed here, Scott accepted the offer, eliminating the risk that he might be falsely convicted of involvement in the 2004 UofI action and serve three years in prison, and also effectively releasing Carrie and Sonja from their subpoenas and the possibility of criminal contempt charges.
Scott will be sentenced on December 15, 2010, with a likely surrender date in early January of 2011.
About Scott and Carrie:
Scott, 23, has been involved in several projects in the Twin Cities including the Anarchist Black Cross and the Jack Pine Community Center. He is currently a member of EWOK! (Earth Warriors are OK!), Oyate Nipi Kte, and the editorial collective for the Dakota community journal Anpao Duta. He is also a Dakota language student and a graduate student in the Sociology Department at the University of Minnesota.
Carrie, 21, has also worked with a variety of projects in the Twin Cities, including Coldsnap Legal Collective, EWOK!, and the Jack Pine Community Center.