Cirignano trial: day 3

posted by Mike on October 19th, 2007

I’m 40 minutes late. Celebrity blogger Michael Ball, who was there on time, later told me that the prosecution asked Shari Worthington why, when she was able to take care of all sorts of other business, she declined to file a criminal complaint against Loy until just before the Cirignano trial. Ball of course didn’t like her testimony.

When I arrive, on the stand is…

Larry Cirignano

An elections “advance man,” govt and politics work, worked with various Republican presidents. Got “roped into the gay marriage issue” following some events in 2003.

Describes the work of an advance man. Deals with all details for a VIP at an event. Coordinates with law enforcement and private security.

Describes “catch and release.” When someone approaches a speaker or unfurls a banner you get them out of there right away and release them. “‘Catch’ is to get them off the stage.” Describes it as “shock and awe.” (I have no idea what he’s thinking of, but this seems like precisely the wrong metaphor for the use of minimal force.) You talk to them first. Never put your hands on someone. You can guide them but never physically get involved in an altercation.

He’s received training in this, first with Secret Service (in connection with 1984 prez campaign) and several times since. Also the rules, regs, etc of security.

Has he been to events where protestors tried to take over a stage? Objection. Sidebar.

In 2006, was he gathering signatures for the anti-gay-marriage amendment? Yes, spent 2 years leading the effort for the Catholic churches. 2 year effort by him and others.

Tries to ask a question about the way this amendment would get passed. Objection. Sidebar.

Nov/Dec 2006, he and others organized a series of rallies. (I think he names rallies in 4 cities.) Springfield rally was the week before Worcester. Was it disrupted? Objection and long sidebar.

Were any other rallies disturbed when he was present? Yes.

Catch & release–you’re not supposed to grab them. You’re supposed to “guide, escort.” Touch them with your arm or shoulder.

Worcester rally had 2 permits. He came with Bill (?) House in a van with about 100 signs on poles. When the pro-gay-marriage guys came they tried to take the stairs and were told they were not permitted there. The counter-protestors were generally back toward the street.

He was carrying a portfolio at the rally. Confirms theres a scene in the video of the portfolio in his hand. Shari Worthington was the emcee, someone sang, Cirignano said a prayer. Mineau did his speech. Police were not in sight. He was behind the speaker to the north side. (Looks like the podium was roughly between him and where Loy was to stand.) Saw someone come in from the edge of the crowd with a sign and walk to the front of the podium area.

She was “bantering” with the audience.

His first thoughts were warning, danger, look out. Figured out it wasn’t his group’s message on the sign based on the reaction of the crowd. Loy stepped down from the second stair to the first step, then down to the audience level.

“I was afraid that a fight would break out.” He believed the permit gave him a right to–? Objection.

So he saw Loy and decided to take action. He went over, went alongside her, said something to her like she should go. Gestured the way with his portfolio. She didn’t respond, but she moved. He had his right arm on her back with closed hand. Hit her or touched her? C shrugs. “Touched her.” You would only open your hand to defend yourself. Just a matter of getting her into the crowd and releasing her. The crowd parted before them. He moved her 5-10′ and released her. Arm against her back was continuous motion. “It wasn’t pressure to push her, it was guidance.”

“As I recall, my left hand’s up, Ms. Loy is going into the crowd.” He left and went back to the podium. She never turned around directly to face him. Felt her start to look around as if she were going to stop when they got to the crowd. Did you ever see her face or see her fall? No. Miss Loy testified that she walked backwards as he walked forwards. Is that what happened? No.

So he went back and had his portfolio.

An officer came up to him, asked for ID, asked what happened. So was he charged with assault and battery? Sidebar.

Has he heard the charges read against him? Yes. Did he assault, batter, and beat her? No.

Cross: Was he a policeman? No. He was there early? Yes. Did he direct counter-protestors on the stairs to talk to police? Yes. Did he talk to police about catch & release? No. C&R is a fishing term? Yes. Prosecution defines catch and release. If you do C&R wrong the fish gets hurt? Yes.

Was this a passionate rally? Yes. Was he a passionate speaker? Hope so. Mineau was passionate? Yes. Did it get people’s adrenalin going? I suppose. Was he alone at that point? No. Loy’s back was always to Mineau, both on the steps and at the ground level. She kept stepping further away from Mineau? Yes. Was she closer to the audience than to Mineau? Yes. And when she approached she kept moving towards the group? Yes. And he directed her to the group? Yes. She didn’t see him coming.

“I wasn’t protecting Mr. Mineau.” Did he tell Wells and Murray he pushed her? No. Did he tell Wells he was afraid she’d back into the podium? Yes. But she was moving away from the podium? Yes. “I was protecting the audience at that point from having a fight.”

Redirect. Shows him a photo. Prosecution said she was 19′ away. (I’m not sure where he was getting this from, I thought he was confused but he brought this up again in his closing argument.) They establish she wasn’t 19′ away.

Did you know what Loy was going to do? No.

That’s it for Cirignano.

Defense rests.

Prosecution calls….

Sgt Wells

After he talked to Loy on the ground, what did he do? Went to the City Hall entrance and talked to Cirignano. He asked Murray to interview people, doesn’t remember how long afterwards. When people approached him about the incident, he sent them to Murray. Before seeing her on the ground, he doesn’t recall seeing her within the perimeter, and didn’t escort her out. (You’ll remember the elder McCarthy remembered this happening, though no other witness does.)

Cross from the defense. Did he move some people back to the street? Judge asks for a clearer question. Did he move anyone out of the crowd who was a counter-protestor? He just kept a walking area free. There’s a bus stop there. He moved more than one person.

Wells steps down.

Evidence is closed.

More discussion about jury instructions! Defense says they must prove touching and lack of justification. Wants a more expansive instruction than just the word “excuse.” His cited case law is from 1854. (Judge was amused by this yesterday.)

Wants concept of justification to be explained. Justification is lost if there’s excessive force. Wants jury to know the group had a right to exclude opposing messages.

Judge: That’s not relevant to the A&B charge. Defense’s reasoning would mean that anyone with and anti-gay-marriage sign could have removed Loy. Cirignano wasn’t in lawful control of the property. He’s not even on the permit, that was Mass Family Institute. There was no evidence about his relationship with MFI.

Defense says please please instruct them on justification.

Judge isn’t aware that Cirignano had the right to touch the defendant. No evidence that he was a security guard or something.

Defense: Every unwanted touch isn’t assault. Please tell them about justification.

Prosecution wants “however slight” in the instruction.

Judge is pretty much going to give them the model instruction.

Judge may give them the “humane practice” instruction, which relates to statements from the defendant introduced into evidence from other sources. Neither side wants this, so the judge won’t give it.

Break. One of the witnesses and I test the newly-silenced courtroom doors. The latch on the inner door still closes loudly. The courthouse is still pretty new.

We’re back, with 9 Cirignano supporters in the audience, 6 Loy supporters, police, and press.

Defense closing argument

We’ve proved Cirignano didn’t push Loy down. Describes the rally scenario. Evidence is clear that she held the sign up to her chest. Cirignano didn’t know what she was going to do. He escorts her away with his right forearm on her back. She foes into the crowd, turns, and trips on the girl’s foot.

Reviews evidence. Disses most of the prosecution’s witnesses. Rev Payson is in a different place on the video than where he described. You can’t see Nangle in the photos, and one witness placed him elsewhere earlier. Plus these guys talked quietly when they were supposedly pointing out where they were, which means they were lying.

(This is a pretty outraged and angry summing up. If a juror liked Cirignano, I bet this energized that juror, but if you kinda don’t like the defense’s case, I think this would turn you off. But this guy is a good lawyer and is probably doing the wise thing.)

Battery charge. He expands on right, excuse, justification.

If Loy hadn’t fallen would we be here? No. And we know Cirignano didn’t cause her fall.

Prosecution closing argument

This case can be described in 30, 15 seconds.

Juries don’t return verdicts on innuendo or sympathy but on the law. Assault and battery could include a beating or push to the ground, but doesn’t require it.

Cirignano spoke to 2 officers that day, Murray and Wells. (Brandishes Indymedia photo of Cirignano in his bad sweater.) Did Cirignano explain catch & release to them? No, both times he used the word “push.”

The commonwealth doesn’t have to prove how she fall, just touching.

Wasn’t Donna Terestre a soft-spoken, credible witness? Etc. etc. (He doesn’t say too much about his other witnesses.)

This closing statement was good. I thought he could have done a better job cross-examining people, but he did a good job here.

Judge charges the jury

Judge: You must follow the law as I give it to you, whether you agree with it or not.

Assault & battery involves touching without right or excuse + intentional touching + touch likely to cause harm or is unwanted. (You can google the definition I’m sure….)

Near the end of instructions, there’s a really long sidebar. I wonder what the jury thinks of it. I think they look at the permit at one point.

Turns out the eighth juror, who disappeared after the first day, had dental surgery scheduled. Now it’s time to pick one of the 7 jurors as the alternate, so that the remaining 6 can deliberate.

(Note that I’m totally convinced it’s going to be Not Guilty, and I’ve written a big NG at the bottom of the last page of my notebook to ease myself into the disappointment.)

The youngest juror is picked as the foreperson.

Lunch break.

A guy comes in to the courtroom and tries to get the court reporter’s recording system working again.

The jury has some questions:

  1. Request, in writing, the definition of assault.
  2. Does the permit allow MFI to perform security, and by whom?
  3. Can we watch the full video?

Judge can have the A&B part of the jury instructions put into writing. No objections.

Judge: Problem with request #2 is there’s absolutely no evidence relating to it.

Defense says they do have the ability to do security.

Judge wantes to say that they should decide based on the evidence they heard. Because there was no evidence. Judge to defense: You’re talking about the law, I’m talking about the evidence.

#3: Evidence is closed, and they only watched a portion at the trial.

#1: Do you want me to ask them if they meant assault and battery? A note is sent to the jury.

#2: Defense wants to object to the judge’s answer for the record.

Jury responds to the judge’s question: Yes, assault & battery. They add this question: Is assault and battery a felony?

Judge: As a matter of law, it’s a misdemeanor.

Prosecutor wants judge to respond to new question #4. Defense says no answer.

Judge won’t speculate why they’re asking the question.

Defense says, it’s not a felony but it’s still a crime.

Judge says sometimes he includes in jury instructions a part about how they should disregard sentencing consequences, but he didn’t in this case.

Both attorneys agree that’s a good way to handle it. OK, judge will send it to them.

Jury returns. Judge runs through questions and answers.

#2&3: You’ll have to use your collected memories.

On #4 I think he’s reading his standard statement to them.

The jury has another question. They’ll write it down. (I think they don’t end up asking this one, but the actual situation was unclear to me.)

The jury leaves.

Something like 30 minutes later, the judge returns in his shirtsleeves and asks us about whether the sound system is working. Consensus is that it could be better.

Another hour of waiting around and chatting. Michael Ball is entertaining me with stories about whatever. I am so tired at this point, I feel like a zombie. Talk to Cirignano again, this time a real conversation. Larry, when you read this I hope you’re feeling well.

At 4:30, the jury returns. They’ve been deliberating about 4 hours. We adjourn till Monday.

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3 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. On October 19, 2007 at 15:03 Richard Nangle said:

    Hi Mike,

    enjoying the play by play. When is the Dive Bar debate?

  2. On October 20, 2007 at 13:07 Deb said:

    Mike,
    Thanks for doing this! I wanted to be there, but couldn’t. Reading your notes gives me a good sense of what went on. It will seem like a long weekend till Monday.

  3. On October 21, 2007 at 12:29 Mike said:

    In response to a question on another thread: Yes, we’re still waiting for the jury to make up its mind. I expect we’ll get a verdict on Monday.

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