Cirignano trial: morning 1

posted by Mike on October 17th, 2007

The judge denies the motion to keep T&G reporter Richard Nangle off the stand. He’ll likely be testifying, as he was a witness to part of the event in question.

Ex-WoMag reporter Noah Schaffer is present in the courtroom. He’ll be writing an article about the Courthouse for Boston Lawyer’s Weekly.

During the morning break, several Cirignano supporters arrived. One predicted that Cirignano’s opponents would “flood” the courtroom on Friday. This doesn’t seem likely.

Only 7 of the 8 jurors returned today. Remember the juror who approached the bench as the jurors were leaving yesterday? He’s gone.

Opening statements

The prosecution’s statement is quick. The defense’s is longer and more impassioned. He says Cirignano has been trained as an “advance man” to push people in the lower back with his forearm, and that’s what happened with Sarah Loy. “Yes he did touch her. But there was an excuse and justification.”

More than one observer pointed out that the defense lawyer seems much better at this than the prosecutor.

Mass Family Institute President Kristian Mineau

He’s a witness for the defense, but since the trial schedule changed at the last minute, and he’s here from out of town, he went first.

They had a permit. He’s known Cirignano for 3.5 years. Saw Cirignano move Loy towards the crowd. Says Cirignano is a “very peaceful individual.”

Cross-examination. Asked about his sense of loyalty, and his strong shared views with Cirignano. Asked if he was really paying attention. “This was all in a matter of seconds?” “That’s right.” “She didn’t make any threatening gestures to you?” “No.”

The prosecution brings out some photos of the City Hall plaza, and there’s some business with a photo of the plaza marked out with orange cones and measuring tape. Is he going to claim this witness is bad at estimating distances?

Says that while the “rally” (the anti-gay-marriage demonstration) was assembling, some opponents came into the area, were asked to leave, didn’t leave, and the police shooed them away. Mineau says he himself asked a cop to do this, and the cop did it.

When did Mineau find out about the incident? The next day.

One of Kevin Ksen’s Indymedia pix is brought out to establish Cirignano’s clothing that day.

Break: nice chat with the defendant

The courthouse is brand spanking new, and they don’t have paper towel dispensers in the bathrooms, just hot air blowers. These are inadequate, and while wiping our moist hands on our pants Cirignano struck up a conversation with me. He asked if my tau cross meant I was a Franciscan, and I told him about how my mom bought it for me. (I was also carrying a copy of Mauriac’s Life of Jesus, and was probably the most conspicuously Christian person in the courtroom.) I said I was there as a supporter of Sarah Loy, that I’m glad he has so many people to give him emotional support during the trial, and wished him luck. He said it would be “interesting.”

Donna Terestre, counter-demonstrator

(Note that there may be various spelling errors, etc in this account. Please contact me to confirm any details you want to take from these notes, if it’s for an important purpose.)

Terestre was there, went to the area of the main rally to counter-protest, was asked by Larry Cirignano and someone else to leave, didn’t leave, was asked to talk to the police, and they told her to go to the counter-protestor area.

Says she saw Cirignano with Loy, and he “took her shoulders.” She shows on a crowd photo that she was just to the back of the main demonstration when this happened. She also suggests Loy was farther from the podium than Mineau thought.

Cross-examination. Says that she was standing in the crowd of demonstrators, and the police didn’t move her back.

Rev. Aaron Payson, who saw it all

A UU minister who was there without a sign, to support gay marriage.

“I actually observed a woman being forced backwards through the crowd and pushed to the ground.”

“I observed him push her at which point she fell to the ground.”

He was one of the ones who pointed Cirignano out to the police after the incident.

Cross-examination. Tries to poke holes in his location and his statement to police. Was he “directly behind” her? He’s using the phrase “pushed to the ground” over and over.

Suggests the police established a formal buffer zone between the groups “after this incident.”

The defense seems uncharacteristically unsure of how to proceed. He tries to get into an argument with Payson about how the police separated the two groups. Defense reads a sentence from a Bay Windows article paraphrasing what Payson said, and Payson contradicts this. After a sidebar, the defense drops this issue. I speculate that the judge said something like, “He says the reporter’s summary is wrong, then you’re going to have the reporter come up here, he’ll admit his summary was wrong, and so who cares?”

We finish with an unbelievable amount of back and forth trying to locate Payson in various photos of the event and trying to establish what the police may or may not have said to him about a buffer zone.

Then: lunch.

Update: The spelling of Kristian Mineau’s name has been corrected.

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2 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. On October 20, 2007 at 04:05 Rieux said:

    Mineau’s first name is spelled ‘Kristian,” not “Christian.” Example:

  2. On October 21, 2007 at 12:26 Mike said:

    Rieux: Thanks for the info. I’ll make the correction to my notes sometime soon…

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