Criminal case dismissed against lawyer who represented Occupy and Animal Protection & Rescue League

Dec 10, 2013, 02:59 ET from Animal Protection and Rescue League

Opposing parties to pay $188K

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A First Amendment attorney who the San Diego City Attorney was prosecuting has now had all charges against him dismissed and is part of a series of settlements and court-ordered attorney fee payments this week totaling $188,718.

During the Occupy movement two summers ago, a court found the actions of San Diego Police arresting activists for setting down signs in Civic Center Plaza to be legal. 

"Based on that ruling, I began removing illegally posted signs from the Children's Pool Seal Rookery in La Jolla which were encouraging unlawful marine mammal harassment," states Attorney Bryan Pease.  The city attorney responded by prosecuting Pease on two counts of petty theft.

All charges against Pease have now been dismissed, and a Superior Court Judge has ordered the City to pay Pease and his co-counsel Todd Cardiff $83,718 in attorneys' fees for enforcing a City Council resolution to protect the seal rookery.  Pease and Cardiff also just won an appeal overturning a conviction against a woman who was arrested by San Diego Police for handing out flyers about cruelty to elephants outside Ringling Brothers Circus.

"I can only describe Ms. Jacobelly's trial and the behavior of former Deputy City Attorney Makini Hammond and Judge Sharon Majors-Lewis as a surreal and bizarre tag team effort to convict Ms. Jacobelly, despite the clear language in the ordinance exempting her free speech activities," declared Pease in a court filing under oath.

On reviewing the case, the City Attorney's office actually agreed the conviction was improper, and the Appellate Division of the Superior Court conducted its own independent review and overturned the conviction.

The City has also just agreed to pay $60,000 to settle a false arrest case filed by Attorney Pease along with the Singleton Law Firm on behalf of an activist who was arrested for setting up a voter registration table in Civic Center Plaza during the Occupy movement. Private corporations responsible for initiating the citizen's arrest will pay an additional $45,000 toward the $105,000 settlement.

Thus, the City and private parties this week will be paying a total of $188,718 to settle cases brought to protect free speech and animal protection, after the City was previously criminally prosecuting the attorney who filed these cases for taking direct action on both of these interrelated issues.

SOURCE Animal Protection and Rescue League