kidsnav.gif (4714 bytes)

Contact Us

Events in Syracuse & thoughts on sentencing.

Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

From: John Murtari (
Date: Tue Nov 19 2002 - 12:23:08 EST

This is a message from a mailing list,
Unsubscribe instructions at bottom of message.

Good People & People of Faith,

This message contains info on:

1. Plans in Syracuse - what's next.
2. Thoughts on Sentencing

1. Plans in Syracuse
I just wanted pass on some thoughts on what has been happening
in Syracuse (for full details you can always check the site
at http://www.AKidsRight.Org/actionc_syr).

On Nov 4th I returned to the Federal Building and was again arrested
by Federal Police.  This was "even though" the US Magistrate had told
me after my trial that he was going to be monitoring my conduct prior
to sentencing (now scheduled for Nov 21 at 2pm).  Why go back?

Primarily, to remove any cause/effect between my conduct in the
Building and what happens in Court. I have had such a long string of
dismissals over the last few years (over 25) that there are some in
the "system" who might think that if we convict this guy and put him
in jail for a while -- he will stop.  We just have to show him we
"really mean it."  Imagine that!

Also, some people on this list may be thinking it is time to stop.
That this experiment in NonViolent Action isn't working and I ought to
quit before something "bad" happens. And let me raise my hand and say
those exact thoughts have crossed my mind at times. Imagine that!

I had a bit of a "panic" myself as I thought things over during my
last night in jail.  I have plane tickets to pickup Domenic for
Christmas Vacation on December 18th.  I sure didn't want to be in jail
then! I still have one trial pending in Syracuse City Court in
January, and with two more Federal tickets, another trial will be
coming in US District Court. Not to mention the sentencing this week.
That's a lot on the plate!

I struggled with my thoughts during that night in jail.  Dom and I
talk on the phone every few days and we have both been making plans
for the visit. I can tell he can't wait.  We would both be crushed if
it couldn't happen.  That measure of anxiety, was also a measure of
Faith.  I decided that effort would be my last time "alone" before
Christmas, I would resume after the holiday -- unless, some other
folks stepped forward and wanted to do something as a group before

Our site has a lot of case studies of NonViolent Action,
http://www.AKidsRight.Org/civil_back.htm -- some of the are pretty
somber for those involved in the movement, e.g. a lot of people were
killed in peaceful efforts to reverse segregation.  How does a few
days in a comfortable jail compare to that?

Our actions always speak louder than our words (and the amazing thing
is they help to convince us ourselves).  I plan on resuming our effort
to get a meeting of parents with Senator Clinton on Dec 30th (Monday
after Christmas).  Your participation by walking with me or just being
there to watch would be very welcome!

2. Thoughts on Sentencing
My attorney submitted a succinct letter on my behalf, as she told me,
"This case is so different from what I normally do on a pre-sentencing
letter. Usually I fall over apologizing to the Judge and saying my
client has learned his lesson, it won't happen again -- that obviously
does not apply here."  (Read it at the site:

On Thursday I'll have a chance to make a statement to the Court
before being sentenced.  Here are a few thoughts on what I plan on 
saying.  I won't be reading from a prepared text, so the actual words
may come out different, but I think you'll get the idea.

Also, before getting into what I plan on saying, let me talk about
what I DON'T PLAN ON SAYING -- which is just as important as we think
about NonViolent Action.


* I'm supposed to be presumed innocent, but it was clear here the assumption
was guilty from day one.  My attorney wasn't even given enough time to
prepare for my trial because I wasn't willing to stop continuing my conduct.

* I was charged with 4 Counts in the complaint, it was a little 
disturbing Judge that you could not bring yourself to say "not guilty" on
the first two counts, and just went on to the last two.

* Intent was at issue here, but a subpoena was quashed to have another
US Attorney testify to what he told me during an earlier dismissal, that
I had a protected right to do what I was doing.  I was not even allowed 
to testify to that myself on the witness stand. You said it was not relevant.

* Lastly, the standard of proof is suppose to be beyond a reasonable doubt.
Judge, we all heard you pause and hesitate through your entire verdict as
you searched to find the words and reasons to justify the findings of guilt.
It certainly didn't even sound like you were convinced.

* Clearly, it just appeared to be a forgone conclusion looking for justification,
we can't allow this man to walk in the hall.


I have to learn from my experience with the Syracuse Police Officer (I won't
repeat that story here, but you can check at the site,

If the items above are true, the Judge already knows that in the back
of his mind (and he also knows that I know that).  Think for a moment
about "turning the other cheek."  How would you respond if someone
slapped you?  Why of course you should reason with them, let them know
how much it hurt you, let them know they violated your personal space,
etc... (but don't you think most people already know that?).  By
"turning the other cheek", we can diffuse the situation, give them a
chance to get a grip on it, and to convert from within.


"Judge, I don't have a lot to say, but I do appreciate the chance to
address the Court before sentencing.  Before I ask the Court for mercy,
I do not want to make it clear that there are no hard feelings here.

I genuinely appreciate your even temper and kindness Judge, especially
in making Ms. Peebles my assigned counsel.  She was a great help in my
defense. I also have to say I appreciate the past advice and professional
prosecution of Mr. Southwick, he did his job. I did not feel any
personal animosity, but people trying to do their duty.  I don't agree
with everything that was done, but I have respect for the people.

As you consider sentencing Judge, I hope you will consider a fourth
person in this court room who was trying to 'do their duty.'  Me.

I wish I could come before you now and say, 'Judge, it won't happen
again - I've learned my lesson.' I also want you to know that I am not
a martyr for a cause or someone who wants to go to jail for
publicity... the goal is a meeting with Senator Clinton.

Some parts of this have been very confusing for me, especially being
found guilty on the third and fourth counts of the complaint. Your
Honor, for the record, I have to say regarding the Fourth count,
"congregating" and some type of disorderly conduct, I did not do
that. I don't think the evidence was very clear, but I'm sorry we did
not spend more time going over what happened in detail.  I took the
witness stand over the advice of Ms. Peebles because I felt it was the
right thing to do, I was not afraid of an honest disclosure of
events. The officers already had me under arrest when the other people
walked by, I was just a bystander.  There was no intent that day to
"congregate", I just don't know what else to say.

During the trial, there was one bit of testimony that certainly caught
my ear. It was what was said to the parents who wanted to drop some of
their written stories off with Senator Clinton's representative, the
reply was, "I don't want your letters, go away and don't ever come
back."  That attitude may not be a violation of the building rules,
but it is certainly a political manner. I'm a coordinator for a group
trying to change that attitude without any anger, but a willingness to
sacrifice for the love of their children.  I have a lot of Faith that
we will succeed.

Your honor, I ask for your mercy in sentencing. 

Judge, I have a little boy I talk to the phone every couple of days,
it become almost impossible to make that call from jail.  I have
plane tickets to pick up DOmenic on December 18th, he, my mother and
I are all looking forward to Christmas.  My mom is 86, I live with
her now and I'm her only child.  It's tough on her when I'm gone, but
there is a cousin who lives in town that helps.

I know part of a sentence is punishment, I hope you will understand
this whole process over the last few years has been punishing.  Since
July 29th there have been 7 arrests, on two of those federal tickets
were written (one of which I was tried on now), but on everyone I
spent the night in jail (parts of two days).  I also never knew if I
was going to be going home on arraignment.  There have been times in
the past when bail has been set, and I have just waited till the
preliminary hearing, or a bail reduction by counsel, to get released.

While I certainly look for Justice in sentencing, today, more that anything
I ask for your mercy.  I don't deserve any break from you and I certainly
understand that, I do not hold you or anyone in this courtroom responsible
for the pain to my family.  I understand there are decisions I could have
made that would have avoided this pain for them -- but I ask for your
mercy for me and my family.  If you choose not to extend mercy, I certainly

I wish I could tell you I will not return to the building, but I
cannot.   I wish there was a solution here.  I certainly feel Senator
Clinton will meet with parents, but that will take time.  Maybe I am
grasping at straws, but I found some hope in your verdict, that nothing
in the building rules themselves precluded my conduct as an individual.

Until something changes, perhaps I can be allowed to walk alone
without fear of arrest.  I have no doubt this is a political manner
and the solution will occur there, not in a criminal courtroom."

John Murtari

To unsubscribe from this list at anytime, send email to with the following 1 line in the
BODY of the message (Subject is ignored).

unsubscribe members

Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Thu Jan 02 2003 - 03:12:02 EST