Protesters Must Wait Few Weeks to Learn Decision of the Court

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READING, N.Y. (18 NEWS) – A packed crowd filled the Town of Reading Court Tuesday morning to learn their fate after being arrested back in April.

Since October,296 people from around the Finger Lakes have been arrested at the gates of Crestwood Midstream as part of protests against the company’s plans for gas storage in Seneca Lake salt caverns.

A template was designed with key points for both parties to obey. On Earth Day a group was arrested due to blocking the entrance of the facility, what the district attorney believes broke the agreement.

Tuesday attorneys argued for the court to dismiss the 84 defendants in the interest of justice. “We hope the judge will agree that we acted in the interest of justice but also the DA needs to be held to its promises to extend its dismissal to all defendants. Rather than dividing to dismiss 60 and not the 83 for exactly the same action. Only ethical thing the DA can do. We’re gonna hold its promise,” said Sandra Steingraver a protester.

The first 60 were dismissed by a different court justice. The 84 defendants are from 10 different counties ages ranging from 18 to 78. Judge Raymond Berry will have a decision within the next few weeks.

Media Advisory from the defendants:

On Tuesday, July 14th, 2015, 9 a.m. at the Reading Town Court — Since October, 296 people from around the Finger Lakes have been arrested on various dates at the gates of Crestwood Midstream as part of peaceful protests against that company’s plans for gas storage in Seneca Lake salt caverns. Last March, Schuyler County District Attorney Joseph Fazzary said that he would not oppose a motion to dismiss “in the interests of justice” for 144 protesters whose cases had not yet been adjudicated. Over the next month, 60 people had their charged so dismissed by four different judges in four different town courts.

After additional demonstrations on Earth Day, involving all-new protesters, the DA rescinded his offer and, reversing course, said that he now opposes dismissal for the 84 remaining defendants whose court dates were still pending. At a court hearing on July 14, Reading Town Justice Raymond Berry will hear oral arguments on two motions: the motion to dismiss in furtherance of justice; and the motion to enforce the pretrial agreement by the DA to support those dismissals for the 84 defendants that were promised before the deal was revoked.

Attorneys for the defendants will argue that prior on-the-record agreements in court to dismiss the 84 defendants in the interests of justice, including by the Schuyler County District Attorney at that time, should stand and that’s what the Judge should rule. That’s what the Judge ruled for the other 60 protesters with whom the same agreement was reached, and the subsequent independent actions of other individuals should not change the agreement.

Attorneys and defendants will be available for comment immediately after the hearing concludes.

What: Hearing of legal arguments

Who: Sujata Gibson, esq., Joe Heath, esq., Jerry Kinchy, esq., and many of the 84 defendants from ten Finger Lakes counties. (Defendants are not required to be in court.)

When: Tuesday, July 14th, 9 a.m.

Where: Town of Reading Court, 3914 County Route 28, Reading, NY

For more information, contact: Sujata Gibson, 607-327-3284; Sandra Steingraber, 607-351-0719; Lindsay Speer, 315-383-7210

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