UC Berkeley graduate student Jasper Bernes did not plead guilty in a pre-trial hearing today regarding the charges standing against him for his involvement in the Nov. 9 Occupy Cal demonstrations.
The case could not be resolved in court today because Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Chris Cavagnaro would like Bernes to plead guilty to at least one of the Nov. 9 charges, one of which includes battery of a police officer, according to Vylma Ortiz, Bernes’ attorney and a civil rights lawyer for Siegel & Yee.
Earlier this month, the district attorney’s office amended the original Nov. 9 charges against Bernes to also include an arrest for his involvement in the May 1 Day of Action protests in Oakland.
According to Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick, the consolidation of cases — called a joinder — is common practice amongst cases of the same class in order to pursue judicial economy and efficiency.
However, Ortiz said these charges should be dropped for Bernes, just as they were for the other 12 protesters who were also charged with misdemeanors in the Nov. 9 demonstrations.
Ortiz said differing cities, police agencies, locations and the timing between the events illustrate that “there is no simply evidentiary connection between the two alleged offenses.” She also said the joinder denies Bernes his fundamental right to due process and a fair trial.
Although Ortiz submitted an opposition motion to the joinder on May 16, the presiding judge for the case rejected the appeal.
According to the court document for the motion, Ortiz stated that Assistant District Attorney Paul Hora held a meeting on April 25 with the majority of the lawyers defending the protesters charged for their participation in the Nov. 9 Occupy Cal demonstrations. Hora agreed to dismiss the charges for only some of the student demonstrators, but stated he still had to decide about the others.
Bernes is the only protester who did not have his charges dropped after Chancellor Robert Birgeneau sent a letter to Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s office reminding her of the amnesty for the students who were charged for the Nov. 9 Occupy Cal demonstrations.
The next court date is set for May 30 at 9:30 a.m. at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse.