Court rules that pro-life advocates demonstrated peacefully at college

A jury in a free speech case ruled that pro-life demonstrators at a college were not disruptive and complied with police officers’ requests. -DB
May 11, 2009
By Steven Ertelt

SAN BERNARDINO, CA — A jury in a California court has found a group of pro-life advocates not guilty in connection with false charges filed against them when they visited Chaffey College in November 2007. The case is the second legal victory for the group after a court ruled in favor in February.

Joey Cox, Jason Conrad, and James Conrad and members of the pro-life youth group Survivors, visited the college to peacefully exercise their free speech rights by holding signs and handing out pro-life literature.

The pro-life demonstrators were told that all eight of them, including their signs and literature tables, were restricted to an area on campus too small to even contain the group and were required to remain there in order to stay to on campus.

Cox went into the police station to ask who issued this unconstitutional demand, he was escorted behind locked doors, shoved against a wall, handcuffed, and searched by three campus police officers.

During the search, the police discovered a digital recorder and they immediately tried to delete the recording, knowing that it contained evidence of their illegal actions.

Later the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office charged Mr. Cox with six counts of unlawfully recording a private conversation. At the time Cox was accused of unlawfully recording a private conversation, he was standing next to a sign in the police station that read “The conversation at this office is electronically monitored to assure quality service.”

The Life Legal Defense Foundation, a pro-life legal group that defended the pro-life advocates, informed today that the jury rendered a not guilty verdict on all charges.

“The jurors are to be commended for following the law and denouncing the police misconduct,” Dana Cody, the director of the group, told “LLDF will seek damages in a civil suit against the officers for the violations of both the Conrads’ and Mr. Cox’s civil rights.”

The Superior Court of San Bernardino had granted an appeal in the case in February and that ruling reversed the trial court’s decision denying the defense’s motion to suppress evidence.

“Before the jury was even selected we knew we were in for an uphill battle,” Allison Aranda, staff attorney for the pro-life legal group, told

Judge Mary Fuller prohibited any mention of Joey’s unlawful arrest and threatened to exclude videotape that proved the Conrads’ innocence.

“Our hands were tied and the realization that we would only be able to tell part of the story to the jury sunk in. We were disappointed, but not defeated,’ Aranda said.

The judge ultimately allowed the video to be played without sound. But, that was enough for the jury to see the truth.

The video showed the Conrads peacefully complying with all of the officer’s orders and revealed the disturbing actions of the police as they slammed James Conrad on a table and tried to cover the only window to the outside so the others could not witness the brutality.

The jury deliberated for less than a day and returned not guilty verdicts on all counts.

Copyright 2009