Nine jurors from Cecily McMillan trial sign letter to judge asking for leniency

Nine of the twelve jurors who elected on Monday to convict Occupy activist Cecily McMillan of assaulting a police officer have written to the presiding judge in the case, Ronald Zweibel. They are pleading for leniency at McMillan’s May 19 sentencing hearing. The U.K. Guardian reports

Cecily McMillan was on Monday found guilty of deliberately elbowing officer Grantley Bovell in the face, as he led her out of a protest in March 2012. She was convicted of second-degree assault, a felony, and faces up to seven years in prison. She was denied bail and is being detained at Riker’s Island jail.

However, nine of the 12 jurors who unanimously reached the verdict have since taken the unusual step of writing to Judge Ronald Zweibel to request that he not give her a prison sentence on 19 May. . . 

. . .The letter, which was signed by juror number two, Charles Woodard, was copied to all other members of the panel and to McMillan’s attorney, Martin Stolar.

Throughout her trial McMillan and her defense maintained that she struck officer Grantley Bovell out of an involutary reflex after he grabbed her breast from behind. Judge Zweibel did not admit evidence into the courtroom that the defense said highlighted Bovell’s record of police brutality. When jurors were eventually released and researched the case, they were shocked to learn that the woman they had just convicted could receive up to seven years in prison.  

“They felt bad,” an anonymous juror told the Guardian. “Most just wanted her to do probation, maybe some community service. But now what I’m hearing is seven years in jail? That’s ludicrous. Even a year in jail is ridiculous.”

Below, you’ll find a copy of tthe letter jurors sent to Judge Zweibel. 

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On Sept 19, 2023 ahead of the Climate Ambition Summit in New York City, climate activists gathered for a rally and civil disobedience outside Bank of America Tower in Midtown Manhattan as part of the March to End Fossil Fuels wave of actions resulting in multiple arrests. Activists demand Bank of America to “Defund Climate Chaos and Defend Human Rights” Photo: Erik McGregor (CC BY-NC 2.0 Deed)

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Illustration by Stephanie McMillan. Used with permission