Published: Sat, July 15, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Woman Convicted for Laughing at Jeff Sessions Gets Retrial

Woman Convicted for Laughing at Jeff Sessions Gets Retrial

Desiree Fairooz's arrest and conviction had sparked outrage from those who felt that it set "a unsafe precedent" for cracking down on political protests.

Fairooz was facing up to six months in prison, but a District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Robert E. Morin ordered a new trial on Friday, court officials said.

Desiree Fairooz, a 61-year-old Code Pink activist, allegedly chuckled twice during the January 10 hearing when Sessions, then a US senator, was described as having a record of "treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented", according to court documents.

In the middle of the hearing - just after Sen. But when one senator said noted bigot and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions had a history of "treating all Americans equally under the law", she laughed loudly. And since the evidence shows she was screaming Jeff Sessions was "evil" as she was removed, the claim this was merely a response to her arrest doesn't hold up.

Several of the jurors indicated they disagreed with the decision of Capitol Police Officer Katherine Coronado to take her into custody because of the laugh. Fairooz refused to leave the hearing room when asked, insisting there was no rule against laughing, which prompted multiple Capitol police officers to come escort her.

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"The only thing more ridiculous than being tried for laughing is to be tried twice for laughing", she said.

"Ms. Fairooz's brief reflexive burst of noise, be it laughter or an audible gasp, clearly can not sustain a conviction for either of the counts in the information", defense lawyer Sam Bogash wrote in a court filing.

"I would have never spoken out at the hearing if I hadn't been arrested for laughing, and now I am going to be tried again!" Fellow activists characterized it as a reflex to an absurd statement.

Fairooz did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment Friday afternoon. The judge ordered a new trial.

Arrests of protesters on Capitol Hill are not rare, but the idea that Fairooz had been considered disruptive for laughing caused controversy.

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"She did not get convicted for laughing", the jury foreperson told HuffPost at the time.

Each of the three protesters faced up to 12 months in jail, $2,000 in fines, or both. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to become USA attorney general on Capitol Hill in Washington. They were from Code Pink, a left-wing social justice organization.

The other protesters, Tighe Barry and Lenny Bianchi, were dressed as Ku Klux Klan members with white hoods and robes and stood up before the hearing started. Before the confirmation hearing began, Bianchi and Barry were arrested and escorted out of the room.

"He doesn't know whether they convicted her for a legally sufficient reason or a legally insufficient reason", Bogash explained.

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