The trial of four people who led an Occupy break-in in Santa Cruz has been delayed repeatedly for more than two years. Now a judge says it’s time to get the case moving.
Superior Court Judge Paul Burdick said last week, “It’s in everybody’s interest to get to a resolution on this case. It’s too old,” the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports. Yet there may be more delays in store for the two-year-old case, as attorneys on both sides have moved to have prosecutors and judges thrown out.
On November 30, 2011 dozens of members of Occupy Santa Cruz broke into an unoccupied Wells Fargo bank and announced they would turn it into a left-wing cultural center. After two separate stare downs with police, the group eventually vacated the property, but in the interim they had done $25,000 in damage.
Police released photos of some of the protesters and eventually arrested 11 of them. They were charged with trespassing and vandalism. Eventually, charges were dropped against all but four of the individuals. Prosecutors offered the remaining four a plea bargain in which they would agree, jointly, to cover the $25,000 in damage to the property.
The Occupy members have apparently refused. Jesse Ruben, an attorney for one of the four, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel his client was indigent saying, “He couldn’t afford to buy himself a misdemeanor.“
If a plea deal can not be reached the trial is set to finally start onAugust 27. However, defense attorneys are now claiming District Attorney Bob Lee has a conflict of interest, which could result in another delay.
Not all of the delays have been caused by defense attorneys. In fact,the prosecutors for the case have twice requested a new judge. The mostrecent request was made in March of this year, and resulted in the trialbeing put on hold.