dr. a "we were truly enchanted. thank you for all that you have done, and please know that not only was it a pleasure to have you work so closely with us, that we learned a lot from observing you. i don't know what is to come in the near future with the current mistrial, but it was an amazing experience and we will never forget your kindness, and genius." chrysta and rod
September 19, 2007
Hung Jury in Favor of Acquittal in Rod Coronado Free Speech Case
San Diego, Calif.-After more than two full days of deliberation, a 12-person jury informed Judge Jeffrey Miller they were hopelessly deadlocked and determined that further deliberation would not deliver unanimity. Outside the courtroom, attorneys were informed that the majority was voting for acquittal of the environmental and animal rights activist on trial for a speech he gave in San Diego in 2003. In order to convict under the obscure statute, (18 USC § 842 (p)(2)(A)), which makes it a crime to demonstrate how to build a destructive device with the intent that it be used in furtherance of a crime of violence), the jury would have had to determine on three criteria: that his speech was instructive, that he had intent to incite those present to violent action, and that the incitement was to imminent action. Otherwise, such speech is protected under the First Amendment. A status conference was scheduled for September 28 in the same court to determine whether the case will continue. Rod Coronado is headed home to Tucson, Arizona with his wife to reunite with his children and return to his job.
Omar Figueroa, an attorney on the legal team said, “We had a good jury and they upheld the Constitution. It’s a great day for Constitutional Rights.”
WHY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA SHOULD NOT RETRY ROD CORONADO
U.S. Attorneys John Parmley and Michael Skerlos were tough, articulate and effective advocates for the government’s case. Judge Jeffrey Miller held everyone’s feet to the fire, gave no quarter to either side and was fair. The government had a great support staff. Their investigators left no stones unturned. Their witnesses were beautifully prepared and withstood defense counsel’s attempts to undermine their testimony despite masterful cross-examinations by Tony Serra and Omar Figueroa. Opening statements by Gerald Singleton for the defense and Mr. Parmley for the government were textbook perfect.
It is our opinion that the jury composition found in this trial could be recreated if the case were retried, applying the same scientific principles used in the case just completed. We would anticipate that virtually any future jury would judge the behavior of Mr. Coronado in a remarkably similar way as the jury that hung in favor of his acquittal.
Perhaps most important, from my perspective, Mr. Coronado has renounced direct action and poses no threat to anyone moving forward. Justice was done in the matter of U.S. v. Coronado and the government’s advocates have made a difference. The government's efforts may now be better directed at any number of real and tangible threats facing the people of the United States at this point in our history.
Coronado Pleads Guilty to Avoid Multiple Prosecutions
By Greg Moran UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER December 15, 2007 A well-known animal rights activist pleaded guilty yesterday to a charge of showing people at a speech in San Diego four years ago how to make a destructive device with the goal of having someone commit a violent crime.
The plea by activist Rodney Coronado ends a controversial case that involved free-speech rights and an unsolved arson case in University City in 2003. Coronado's case went to trial in September, but the jury could not reach a decision and a mistrial was declared. Some on the panel said afterward that the majority was leaning toward acquitting Coronado.
Coronado's lawyer, Jerry Singleton, said that as part of the guilty plea, the government will not pursue two other cases against his client. One in Washington, D.C., involves the same charge stemming from a speech Coronado gave at American University there.
The second case is in Arizona, where Coronado was charged with illegally possessing feathers of eagles, a protected species. Coronado is of American Indian heritage.
Outside court, Singleton said Coronado accepted the deal to move on with his life and raise his family. Coronado already spent four years in federal prison for committing arson at animal research labs in Michigan.
“I needed to do what is best for my family,” Coronado, 41, said after he entered his guilty plea. He is free on bond until his sentencing in March.
The rarely used federal law Coronado pleaded guilty to carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. But Coronado and the government have agreed to ask Judge Jeffrey Miller to impose a sentence of a year plus one day in federal prison, Singleton said.
The charges stem from an Aug. 1, 2003, speech Coronado gave in Hillcrest. In response to a question from the audience, he showed how to start fires with a homemade device. Undercover federal agents were in the audience and heard the exchange.
The speech came hours after an apartment complex under construction in University City had been destroyed by arson and an extremist environmental organization had taken credit for it. The fire caused $50 million in damage and remains unsolved.
Based on his comments at the speech, Coronado was indicted two years after the blaze. Critics said the government was punishing Coronado for exercising his free-speech rights and was trying to intimidate activists.
Singleton tried to get the case thrown out by saying the law infringed on free speech, but Miller rejected that before trial.
Prosecutors said they were not trying to squelch speech or chill Coronado's political activities, but were prosecuting him because they believed his intention was to incite others to commit crimes.
“The law does not protect those who cross the line to advocate violence by providing the tools and the road map for others to commit arson in the name of radical environmental causes,” U.S. Attorney Karen Hewitt said.