Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Update 002 -- G-20 Protest Permits Lawsuit -- Federal Court Hearing

[These are my raw notes from the courtroom; they will often consist or keywords and phrases and are not a comprehensive log or transcript.]

1:27 PM: First things first: attorneys for both sides say Judge Gary Lancaster has indicated he may rule from the bench this afternoon.

When I returned from filing my noon report, there were no seats free in the courtroom where I could plug in and blog, so here's a quick recap of what happened between 11 AM and the 12:30 one hour recess.

Attorneys for the protesters presented a series of witnesses to try to make the case that the city played favorites when approving permits to use Point State Park during G-20 week.
ACLU Attorney Vic Walczak is attempting to show that the plaintiff's applications to use Point State Park from Sunday through Friday actually came before the request by PA State Senator Jim Ferlo.
The plaintiff's witnesses appeared to show that after initially being told the park would not be available, Ferlo was told that it could have the park on Wednesday.

Assistant City Parks Director Michael Radley -- who is also director of the Great Race -- testified that Public Safety Director Michael Huss intervened. Radley told the court that Huss asked him if he could accommodate a group using Point State Park on Wednesday. Radley testfied that he told Huss "it won't be easy, but we'll get it done.

1:36 PM: "All rise. This honorable court is now in session."

Radley back on stand. Testifying that camping in city parks is prohibited "for the most part".

Lobel: let me read what you said in your deposition. "In a rare situation". Is that correct?
So the director has the ability to grant permission to camp in a city park? A: "He does, by code".
Section 473.04 of the city code: "no person in the park shall camp, except with the permission of the director".

Lobel: Are there any regulations to guide the director as to which people are allowed to camp and which are not? A: No regulations.
Q: Do you know that in 2007 a group of students requested permission to park in a city park? Was it granted? A: It was.
Why? A: it was a one night request and appeared to have a very low impact. Group agreed to hire an off duty city police officer to monitor their activity.

Radley acknowledges that no one from the city attempted to reach any similar sort of accommodations with CodePink or 3 Rivers Climate Convergence.

How many students camped on that occasion in 2007? A: A couple of hundred.
Problems? A: They did not leave park as they found it. Quite a bit of refuse left behind.

City Assistant City Solicitor Michael Kennedy asks to do direct examination of Radley now, so as not to recall him later. Judge agrees.

Q: When conditions are ideal, when would you break down from the Junior Great Race? A: Sunday evening.
Any adverse conditions could push the breakdown into late Sunday night and into Monday.
Has concern about damaging sod and safety of workers if they had to breakdown in rain.

Judge: In your 13 years, how many times has it taken past 5 PM Sunday to break down from the Junior Great Race?
Radley: indicates it hasn't happened in his 13 years.

Also testifies setup for the actual Great Race the following Sunday would normally start on Wednesday. Says it is being pushed back to Thursday to accommodate Ferlo's event.

Since 2007 -- when the group of students failed to clean up after themselves -- have any other groups been granted permits to camp in park? A: There have not.

1:48 PM Radley's testimony ends.

1:49 PM Peter Shell of the Thomas Merton Center is called as a witness by ACLU Attorney Vic Walczak.

Sent from my mobile device

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