A Washington D.C. judge has tossed out the conviction of a protester who allegedly laughed at Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing. Instead of sentencing Code Pink activist Desiree Fairooz to jail time, the judge threw out her conviction and ordered a new trial.
Fairooz claims her laughter during hearing back in January was involuntary, since she was reacting to an assertion that Sessions treats all Americans “equally.” In May, she was convicted of disorderly, disruptive conduct and obstructing passage on U.S. Capitol grounds and face up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
According to The Huffington Post, Chief Judge Robert Morin found it “disconcerting” that the government felt Fairooz’s laugh alone was enough to convict her.
“The court is concerned about the government’s theory,’ Morin said, adding that the laughter “would not be sufficient” to submit the case to the jury.
Below is a rundown of what led to the arrest, as first reported by WAMU:
While speaking in support of Sessions, Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said that his Senate colleague’s “extensive record of treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented.”
At that line, Fairooz let out two snorts of laughter.
Fairooz, a retired Arlington County children’s librarian, was sitting in the audience with five other activists, all dressed in pink Lady Liberty costumes. They were from Code Pink, a left-wing social justice organization. Before the hearing began, a Capitol Police officer had warned the group to stay quiet and keep their protest signs down. Fairooz said she complied with the order.
“I let out an involuntary laugh, or more of a chortle of disdain,'” in response to Shelby’s statement, Fairooz told WAMU. “We were not warned not to laugh.”
According to court documents, a Capitol Police officer approached her and attempted to escort her out of the room. When she refused, three officers pulled her out of the room as she continued to protest.
Watch video of the incident below:
Another protester escorted out of Sessions hearing. Her original offense appeared to be simply laughing. pic.twitter.com/p6lWzBVFRW
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) January 10, 2017
Featured image via Twitter