FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 23, 2010
Contact: Jude Ortiz, Scott and Carrie Support committee (SCSC)
AETA Indictee Scott DeMuth demands discovery, Grand jury resister Carrie Feldman awaits re-hearing on appeal in segregation
This morning, over a dozen supporters joined Scott DeMuth in the Federal Courthouse in Davenport, IA, for an arraignment and hearing on numerous discovery-related motions. DeMuth is facing allegations of conspiracy under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, stemming from an investigation of an Animal Liberation Front action that occurred in November 2004. This hearing comes on the heels of the transfer of Carrie Feldman, who has been in custody on civil contempt since November 17, 2009, for refusing to testify before a grand jury in relation to this case.
In today’s hearing, DeMuth’s attorney, Michael Deutsch, argued that the prosecution has failed to produce the discovery that the defense is entitled to under the rules. Judge Shields took the arguments under advisement and is expected to issue a ruling within the next few days.
The defense team had also filed a motion to dismiss the original indictment, arguing that it failed to meet basic requirements for an indictment. The indictment gave no indication as to what the prosecution alleges DeMuth actually did, and provided an overly vague time frame for the alleged crime. In an apparent affirmation of this defense argument, US Attorney Cliff Cronk filed a superseding indictment last week. The new indictment, however, appears to be fatally flawed in itself—it still fails to provide any indication as to what DeMuth is alleged to have done to conspire under the AETA. Responding to defense motions, the prosecution backpedaled on an earlier strategy to prosecute Demuth for his constitutionally-protected free speech and associations: “This case has nothing to do with political association … this conspiracy continues as long as alf [sic] continues to break into labs and free animals,” Cronk said in open court. Seeing that the statute of limitations has expired for the Spence Lab break-in specifically, the prosecution appears to now justify DeMuth’s charges by arguing that the scope of the crime in question extends to a conspiracy involving unrelated actions across the country claimed under the banner of the Animal Liberation Front.
Furthermore, Lisa Williams, speaking on behalf of the “Scott and Carrie Support Committee,” pointed out that “Cronk continues to juggle competing theories of his own case in the courtroom. One minute, he claims that he intends to show that Scott participated in the break-in at Spence labs himself, and the next he claims that, instead, he intends to show that Scott conspired with others, from another location, and was never in Johnson County himself. If he had a legitimate foundation for the charge he is bringing against Scott, he would be telling one story and sticking to it. Obviously, there is no basis for these allegations.”
Meanwhile, Carrie Feldman was recently transferred from Washington County Jail—where she was a model inmate—and is currently being held in segregation in Dubuque County Jail, where her communication with supporters has been severely curtailed. Feldman has a pending re-hearing of her appeal, in which her attorneys argue that the use of secret evidence by the prosecution—evidence to which her defense team was denied all access—violates her due process rights. They also maintain that the statute of limitations has expired on the incident in question, making her detention punitive. Their argument is supported by the dissenting opinion in the case, in which Judge Bye describes Feldman’s detention as an “abuse of the grand jury process” and recommends her “immediate release from jail confinement.”
Court documents from both Feldman and DeMuth’s cases are available at: https://davenportgrandjury.wordpress.com/resources/