Penn State Professor Appears at Hearing: Continues Protest 3/27/98

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On Thursday (3/25) Professor Julian Heicklen and three other anti-prohibition advocates were ordered to stand trial for offenses stemming from the Feb. 12 "Smoke Out" at the Pennsylvania State University. Prof. Heicklen, Andrew Burke, Jennifer Corbett and Ken Keltner had their Preliminary Hearings at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Heicklen and Burke each had separate hearings while Corbett's and Keltner's cases were heard together.

Heicklen, who wants a jury trial to nullify the marijuana laws, is challenging not only the drug war but also the manner in which criminal defendants are treated by the courts, demanding that he be accorded "basic human courtesy".

Heicklen walked out of the courthouse last week (3/18) when it became obvious that his scheduled 1:00pm hearing wouldn't take, place till much later. He was arrested a few hours later and although the "Failure to Appear" charge was dropped, he is planning to sue District Justice Alan Sinclair for false arrest for issuing the Bench Warrant.

This week, however, Judge Sinclair called Heicklen's case at 1:27pm, just three minutes before Heicklen's self-imposed deadline. After the judge told the Commonwealth to proceed, Heicklen interrupted, introduced himself and asked the Judge and the prosecutor to introduce themselves. The judge complied with Heicklen's request and instructed the prosecutor to do likewise. The prosecutor reluctantly complied.

Heicklen then asked Judge Sinclair to recuse himself because Sinclair had issued the Bench Warrant from the previous week and therefore would not give him a fair and impartial trial. Sinclair denied the motion that he recuse himself.

After several other motions were denied, Heicklen, though representing himself, sat mute throughout the remainder of the hearing, ignoring Judge Sinclair's offer to cross examine the police officers and make a closing argument.

Jennifer Corbett and Ken Keltner had their hearing next and were represented by State College attorney Joseph Devecka. They are charged with possession of paraphernalia.

On Thursday (3/26,) the day after the hearing, Heicklen and co-defendant Alan Gordon once again smoked pot in front of a crowd of about 125 supporters and four pro-drug-war counter demonstrators.

No one was arrested, but the Penn State Police were present, and they confiscated a joint from Heicklen. Penn State Police said that they will test Heicklen's joint as well as one they confiscated at last week's rally. If the tests come back positive for marijuana, police said they would cite Heicklen for two counts of possession.

Prof. Heicklen told the crowd that "Magistrate Sinclair has trampled on the U.S. Constitution and denied us our basic legal rights. He has committed treason. We will continue our Smoke Outs and make our case in the streets..." Heicklen later told the Week On Line that if necessary he will take his demonstrations to the Bellefonte Courthouse, the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, and the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. The Professor also said that he has been contacted by anti-drug-war activists from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Oklahoma University, and the University of Texas at Austin. "I've been holding them back. I told them they should wait (until the next school year) and learn from our mistakes."

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