RNC 8 to face joint trial

The defense for the RNC 8 scored a minor victory this morning when Judge Teresa R. Warner ruled that eight anarchists charged with "conspiracy to riot" will receive a single joint trial.

During a preliminary hearing back in October, the state had argued that, because the circumstances of each of the accused was slightly different, separate trials were in order. This would have allowed the prosecution to tailor their cases to each activist, thereby increasing the likelihood of convictions.

The defense argued that, because the charges against each anarchist are identical ('conspiracy to riot' and 'conspiracy to commit property damage') and because "conspiracy" implies a collective crime, a collective trial was called for. The judge agreed.   "Judge Warner correctly saw through the efforts by the government to hold multiple trials in hopes of a conviction," said Bob Kolstad, attorney for co-defendant Nathanael Secor, in a press release. "We believe it is the best possible use of resources for not only the defendants but also for the taxpayers who are footing the bill for the trial and prosecution."

The RNC 8, you might recall, were rounded up during the controversial "preemptive raids" carried out the weekend before the convention. The resulting trial will bring together a wide range of characters. Among the expert witnesses the defense plans to call is Professor Howard Zinn. Attorneys representing the RNC 8 also plan to question Ramsey County Bob Fletcher as to the clandestine infiltration/spy program authorities used to amass evidence against the peace activists. Expect a few hitherto undisclosed chestnuts to fall from that tree.

Still no official word as to when the trial will begin. During the Oct. 9 preliminary hearing, Judge Warner hinted that, given her schedule, a March start-date was likely. We'll keep you posted.

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