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Woman convicted for laughing at Trump nominee Sessions gets new trial

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A U.S. peace activist found guilty of laughing during Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing early this year had her conviction thrown out on Friday and will be retried, her lawyer said.

Desiree Fairooz, 61, a member of the anti-war group Code Pink, was arrested for laughing during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in January in response to a lawmaker’s assertion that Sessions, then a Republican U.S. senator from Alabama, treated all Americans equally.

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Fairooz, a children’s librarian, shouted, “This man is evil, pure evil” as police led her out. A jury found Fairooz guilty in May of disrupting a session of Congress and demonstrating on Capitol grounds. She had been due to be sentenced on Friday.

But Chief Judge Robert Morin of the District of Columbia Superior Court overturned the guilty verdict and ordered a new trial. In his ruling, Morin said it was unclear whether Fairooz had been convicted for laughter or for speaking out as she was removed, her lawyer, Samuel Bogash, said by telephone.

“The government’s position was that laughing alone was enough to convict. But the judge made it clear that he didn’t think it was,” Morin said.

Code Pink, which often stages protests against politicians, said on its Facebook page that Fairooz denounced a retrial as a waste of taxpayers’ money.

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“The only thing more ridiculous than being tried for laughing, is being tried twice for laughing,” Code Pink quoted her as saying.

Morin did not set a trial date and scheduled a status hearing for Sept. 1. Fairooz had faced up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for each of her two convictions.

Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said two other Code Pink activists who were convicted for disrupting the hearing, Lenny Bianchi and Tighe Barry, were sentenced to 10 days in jail.

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The sentences were suspended on condition that Barry and Bianchi complete six months of unsupervised probation, he said.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Leslie Adler)


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Here’s why Rudy Giuliani can not legitimately claim to be Donald Trump’s lawyer

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Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani bills himself as President Donald Trump's attorney. But one former prosecutor explained why that is not an accurate description during a Monday appearance on MSNBC.

"Meet the Press Daily" anchor Katy Tur interviewed former Southern District of New York Assistant U.S. Attorney Mimi Rocah, who is a distinguished fellow in criminal justice at Pace Law School.

"So this news that the SDNY is looking into what Rudy Giuliani was doing overseas in Ukraine, explain what they’re doing. Also, very weird since Giuliani used to run the office," Tur noted.

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Rudy Giuliani’s bank records part of investigation by federal prosecutors: report

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On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that President Donald Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani is having his banking records scrutinized as part of the federal criminal investigation into his dealings in the Ukraine.

The report says that prosecutors are also looking into his work for a city mayor in the country.

Giuliani has been a central figure in Trump's apparent scheme to extort the Ukrainian president into helping him dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, holding military aid appropriated by Congress hostage until the country investigates "corruption."

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Police officer sues Ava Duvernay for depiction of interrogation technique used on the Central Park Five

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On Monday, TMZ reported that former police officer John Reid is suing director Ava Duvernay over her depiction of the "Reid Technique" used against the young, Black suspects known as the Central Park Five in the Netflix film "When They See Us."

Reid is claiming defamation, insisting that the film's depiction of his methods are wrong.

"You squeezed statements out of them after 42 hours of questioning and coercing, without food, bathroom breaks, withholding parental supervision," said a prosecution staffer to a detective in the movie. "The Reid Technique has been universally rejected. That's truth to you."

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