The Department of Justice has announced that it will be taking Desiree Fairooz, the woman who briefly chuckled at Attorney General Jeff Session's confirmation hearing, back to trial after failing to convict her the first time on charges of disorderly conduct and demonstrating inside the Capitol. The jury during her first trial found her guilty, though only when focusing on her conduct following her arrest. The judge, taking into account the DOJ's assertion that her laughter, in and of itself, was enough to convict, threw out the jury's verdict and demanded a new trial. He called the governments assertions "disconcerting."
This all began during Session's confirmation hearing as Attorney General. His nomination to become a federal court judge was rejected in the 80's over his controversial views on race. Civil rights organizations and progressive groups were concerned about his positions at the time and still are to this day. While introducing Sessions, however, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) claimed his colleague had a “clear and well-documented” record of “treating all Americans equally under the law.” This caused Fairooz, sitting in the audience, to laugh.
A rookie Capitol Hill police officer who had never made an arrest nor guarded a congressional hearing before then decided to take Fairooz into custody. Fairooz objected vocally, questioning why she was being arrested, then voicing her opposition to Sessions as multiple officers escorted her from the room.
Though the federal courts have made it clear Fairooz's laughter alone are not enough to convict her, the Department of Justice is eager to try convicting her once again. The whole process ― impaneling yet another jury, recalling witnesses, etc. ― will eat up several days of the court’s busy calendar. A trial date has been set for Nov. 13-14.
My new trial set to begin Monday, November 13th. I still cannot believe the government refuses to drop this. Vindictive!— Desiree Fairooz (@desireefairooz) September 1, 2017
Since their original argument that simply laughing at Jeff Sessions was enough to arrest Fairooz is no longer admissible in court, the DOJ will have to admit that Officer Katherine Coronado, the rookie COP who took Fairooz into custody, made a mistake. Their argument will have to be that, even though it was wrong to arrest Fairooz, Fairooz had no right to loudly object or make a political statement while she was being placed under arrest.
Fairooz has rejected a plea deal in which she plead guilty to the two charges against her in exchange for the recommendation of a sentence of time already served. She did not accept the deal because she felt it would amount to an admission of guilt, and that she never should have been arrested for laughing in the first place. She believes this entire process is a waste of government time and resources, calling it "absurd," and "ridiculous."
Even if convicted, Fairooz is unlikely to receive any major punishment, though jail time is possible. Two of her fellow protestors who were arrested during the same confirmation hearing were given suspended sentences, which means they will not have to serve any jail time unless they violate certain restrictions. Time will tell whether Fairooz receives similar sentencing, or whether she is ultimately acquitted of the horrible laughter which resulted in her arrest.