Judge Allows Case Against UC Muslim Students To Move Forward

SANTA ANA (CBS) — A Superior Court judge on Friday rejected a petition to throw out misdemeanor charges against a group of local college students accused of disrupting an Israeli ambassador’s speech at UC Irvine.

Judge Peter Wilson dismissed a “demurrer motion” that would have ended the case. A demurrer motion argues that the facts of the case do not amount to a violation of the law.

The so-called “Irvine 11” then entered not guilty pleas again because their attorneys withdrew their earlier pleas April 15 so they could file the motion that was rejected by Wilson.

The eight UC Irvine and three UC Riverside students are charged with misdemeanor conspiracy to disturb a meeting and misdemeanor disturbance of a meeting.

The charge stemming from a speech given by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren on Feb. 8, 2010, at UC Irvine has largely become a battle over the legal definition of free speech.

Defense attorneys argued that the charge violates the students’ free-speech rights. Prosecutors allege the
students violated the free-speech right of the speaker.

Attorney Carol Sobel argued the statute prosecutors chose for the case is too vague on what types of speech are allowed in public meetings. The judge cited state Supreme Court rulings to justify his ruling on denial of the motion.

Wilson on Friday also denied Deputy District Attorney Dan Wagner’s motion to let prosecutors pursue publication of a letter to the editor sent to the Orange County Register and Daily Pilot that answers some allegations made by supporters of the students.

The judge has issued a gag order on the case and said the letter to the editor would violate that.

Wagner said his office just wanted to rebut “inflammatory statements” from supporters of the students such as the prosecution is “clearly racist.”

Defense attorney Dan Stormer objected.

“This is a criminal prosecution, not a debate society,” Stormer said.

Wilson said the gag order was meant to stop “the case being tried in the media,” and ruled the letter to the editor would just continue the debate.

The judge also admonished both sides to avoid reciting the facts of the case repeatedly in each motion.

“I now know the story — please understand I get it,” Wilson said.

Both sides will return to court June 30 to consider at least six motions, including one to dismiss charges and another to get the District Attorney’s Office off the case.

The UCI defendants are Mohamad Mohy-Eldeen Abdelgany, 23; Aslam Abbasi Akhtar, 23; Joseph Tamim Haider, 23; Hakim Nasreddine Kebir, 20; Mohammad Uns Qureashi, 19; Ali Mohammad Sayeed, 23; Osama Ahmen Shabaik, 22; and Asaad Mohamedidris Traina, 19.

The UC Riverside defendants are Khalid Gahgat Akari, 19; Taher Mutaz Herzallah, 21; and Shaheen Waleed Nassar, 21.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

  • evan

    Again,,,muslims. Leave our country now and return to the wastland you are from.

    • dean

      your comment spews racism, though not fascist. i would assert that you speak only for yourself, not even bush/cheney and reactionary republicans requested departure of muslims. perhaps racists, like you, would be more comfortable in states that are against some specific religions, like iran or saudi arabia?

      • The Big Logic

        The term racism is used by those who do not have a valid rebuttal to an indefensible point of view. It screams minority, and loser while enforcing the opponents stated position.

      • Turi43

        Your wrong Dean. Evan speaks for the majority of Americans who believe that these vermin should be booted out of our country. Their religion spews hatred pure and simple !

      • Karen

        Muslim is a religion, not race. Stop using words incorrectly.

        In THIS country, we believe in freedom of speech FOR ALL. I am glad these punks are being prosecuted. They seriously disrupted a meeting that cost money and other people wanted to attend.

        They DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT to deny someone else THEIR FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Throw the book at them. And I agree with Turi43.

  • Pv

    Charles Lynch (1736 – October 29, 1796) was a Virginia planter and American Revolutionary who headed an irregular court in Virginia to punish Loyalist supporters of the British during the American Revolutionary War. The terms “lynching” and “lynch law” apparently derive from his name.

    Lynch was born in Virginia to Quaker immigrants from Ireland. The city of Lynchburg, Virginia, was named for one of his family members, probably his brother John. In 1767 Charles became a justice of the peace of Bedford County, Virginia, but was disowned by the Quakers for taking an oath of office, something Quakers were not permitted to do. His wife Anne Terrell remained a lifelong Quaker, and their five children were raised as Quakers. Lynch served in the Virginia House of Burgesses and the Convention from 1769 until 1778, when he became a militia colonel. After the Revolution, he served in the Virginia Senate from 1784 to 1789.

    In several incidents in 1780, Lynch and several other militia officers and justices of the peace rounded up suspects who were thought to be a part of a Loyalist uprising in southwestern Virginia. The suspects were given a summary trial at an informal court; sentences handed down included whipping, property seizure, coerced pledges of allegiance, and conscription into the military. Lynch’s extralegal actions were retroactively legitimized by the Virginia General Assembly in 1782.

    “Lynch’s Law”, referring to organized but unauthorized punishment of criminals, became a common phrase, as was used by Charles Lynch to describe his actions as early as 1782. Variations of the term, such as “lynch law”, “judge lynch”, and “lynching”, were standard entries in American and British English dictionaries by the 1850s. In 1811 a man named Captain William Lynch claimed that the phrase, by then famous, actually came from a 1780 compact signed by him and his neighbors in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, to uphold their own brand of law independent of legal authority. The obscurity of the Pittsylvania County compact compared to the well-known actions of Charles Lynch casts doubt on it being the source of the phrase.

    • Karen

      What’s your point with this story? How does it relate to the case at hand? If you think this is lynching, YOU ARE WRONG.

  • The Big Logic

    We need fewer Habibs, Mohammeds, kajumbas, and more Joe Smiths, Tom Jones, and Bob Evans in America. Too many ragheads, and too few rightheads.

    • Trisha


  • Everyday Guy

    I would like to sit down with all parties over a big platter of BBQ pork ribs and pitchers of beer.

  • noneoff

    Religion in and of itself is not the problem. The problem is the extremist that preach violence and death to non-believers. Those of the Christian religion that firmly believe in Jesus, and the resurrection, say you are damned and will go to hell if you do not repent and believe in Jesus. Many a war has started because of religious differences. In this case though, it’s not a religious issue, but an interruption of constitutional law.

    • Everyday Guy

      Just to set the historical facts straight; Hitler, Tojo, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot murdered tens of millions and it wasn’t in the name of any religion. Stop the veiled bigotry against religion.

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