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Orange County Bar Association

Orange County “Irvine 11” Convicted of All Counts

Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo

Last Friday, September 23, 2011, in the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana, 10 UC Irvine students (Irvine 11) were found guilty by a jury (the eleventh Defendant worked out a deal with prosecutors prior to trial). Each was found guilty of one count of disturbing a public meeting and for conspiring to do the same for their actions during Israeli ambassador Michael Oren’s speech at UC Irvine. Prosecutors told the jury that these students attempted to stop Oren’s speech and that it went beyond expressing their disagreement about the speaker’s position. The defense took the opposite stance. They explained that the UC Riverside and Irvine students involved were expressing their freedom of speech and were being targeted for the pro-Palestinian content of their argument. The DA’s office explained that by using a “heckler’s veto” the students had planned to use their disruptions to end the presentation. An e-mail used during the trial revealed a plan on how to disrupt the speech regardless of how officials might react. The DA used the defense argument in reverse: the students were suppressing Oren’s freedom of speech and that is against the law. As far as the Prosecutor was concerned it did not matter what the students were saying during the speech; it was the way they went about it. For the students it was about being targeted for their beliefs and because they are Muslim and had they been anyone else, this would not have happened in their opinion. Their attorneys argued that the students had conducted themselves in a lawful peaceful manner, but in the end the jury did not agree.

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