Assistant District Attorney Maggie Welch: Ramsay Clark was before her time.
Syracuse, NY - Assistant District Attorney Maggie Welch confessed she was stumped when told the anti-drone protesters arrested at the New York Air National Guard base at Hancock Field in April mentioned plans to call Ramsey Clark as a witness at trial.You know, the U.S. attorney general under President Lyndon Johnson who went on to become an active peace advocate and vocal critic of U.S. military action?
The 30-year-old Welch candidly admitted she had no idea who Clark was. After doing a little research, she concluded he apparently was important “long before” she was born. But she also wondered why an anti-war protest group would want to associate with a lawyer who more recently helped represent former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein at trial.
Well, Welch won’t have to bone up on the 83-year-old Clark’s background because DeWitt Judge Bob Jokl recently rejected the defense pitch to call an international law expert as a witness. The judge also rejected the “necessity” defense the protesters wanted to present at trial to show their “die-in” conduct was justified to prevent a greater harm.
The prosecution dealt them another recent blow when Welch used her prosecutorial discretion to drop obstruction charges that would have allowed a jury trial. The remaining disorderly conduct charges get them only a non-jury trial before DeWitt Judge Dave Gideon set for the evenings of Nov. 1 to 3.
Of the original 38 protesters arrested, 33 remain to stand trial. Welch said four others pleaded guilty and one man suffering from Alzheimer’s was granted an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.
Welch noted the trial might prove to be colorful, literally, as many of the protesters wore blue scarves during their recent court appearance. Carol Baum of the Syracuse Peace Council said that’s to show solidarity with the young members of a peace group in Afghanistan.
-thanks to The Post-Standard of Syracuse