- Alex Morgan
Professor Julian Heicklen is in the Centre County Prison in Bellefonte, PA, following his arrest for smoking a joint during a demonstration outside the county court house last Monday (6/22).
Heicklen, who has been holding weekly "Smoke Outs" at the Penn State University Main Gate in State College since January, moved his protest to the county seat on June 7 when he made a speech at the county prison door before serving a 48 hour sentence for contempt of court.
The contempt sentence was imposed during a May 6 hearing on his previous arrests. Heicklen had objected to Magistrate Lunsford's questioning of prosecution witnesses and also the court's decision to combine his February 12, March 19, March 26 and April 2 arrests into one case. The objection was overruled.
Heicklen declined to cross examine the police officers or present any evidence, but he asked to read a statement into the record. Magistrate Lunsford denied the request, saying Heicklen was only going to repeat the statement he made during his hearing for the February arrest. Heicklen asked him how he knew that and then began his statement anyway. Lunsford ordered Heicklen to stop and threatened him with a contempt citation. Heicklen finished his statement, and Lunsford imposed the 48 hour sentence for contempt.
On June 7, just prior to entering the county prison, Heicklen read a long statement summarizing his struggle with the court system and the pretrial motions he had filed with the court. "... I made a short statement of about one minute in length requesting indictment by a grand jury ... Magistrate Lunsford objected to me saying anything at all on my own behalf and found me in contempt of court. I had thirty days to appeal the contempt citation. I could not do so in good conscience because I am in contempt of this court, in absolute and utter contempt. The Centre County Court is not a court of law; it is a court of inquisition."
The full statement, entitled "SPEECH AT THE PRISON DOOR," can be found at http://www.personal.psu.edu/jph13/, Prof. Heicklen's web site.
Heicklen is still in jail waiting to see if attorney Joseph Devecka can get his bail reduced to $500.00 and also get the court to drop the bail requirement that he refrain from committing further crimes. Meanwhile, he is going ahead with plans to lead a major protest at Penn State's Main Gate during the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. It will span 30 hours over four days, with thirty different speakers for an hour each.