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Protester's conviction for laughing in Sessions hearing overturned

Andrew Breiner, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- A Code Pink activist's conviction for disrupting Congress by laughing during Attorney General Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearing was thrown out by a D.C. judge on Friday.

Desiree Fairooz was one of three Code Pink members arrested in January while protesting Sessions' confirmation. She laughed after Sessions' fellow Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby said Sessions had a clear, well-documented, "extensive record of treating all Americans equally under the law."

A jury found her guilty of "disorderly or disruptive conduct" with the intention of disrupting congressional proceedings, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in May.

Chief Judge Robert E. Morin of the D.C. Superior Court threw out the verdict, however, saying it was "disconcerting" that the government made the case that laughter alone was sufficient for conviction. He set a new trial date for Sept. 1, the Huffington Post reported.

Jurors said after the trial that they had focused on Fairooz's actions after being asked to leave the hearing room in convicting her, rather than the laugh itself.

 

"We did not agree that she should have been removed for laughing," the jury foreperson said.

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