Judge dismisses entire jury pool in “Equality 9” case

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A judge Tuesday dismissed an entire jury pool after
lawyers for six same-sex marriage activists accused of trespassing complained
that prosecutors had challenged a prospective juror based on his sexual

Superior Court Judge Joan Weber, ruling in the so-called “Equality 9”
case, granted the defense's motion requesting that she halt jury selection and
start over with a new pool.

Prosecutors objected to the judge's ruling, noting that the juror in
question had indicated in his questionnaire that he had previously protested in
support of gay rights in the past and was therefore not a suitable juror for
the case.

The defendants are among five men and four women who were arrested on
Aug. 19, 2010 as they demonstrated outside the county clerk's office, demanding
that same-sex marriages be allowed in San Diego.

The nine were charged with misdemeanors related to unlawfully blocking
the entrance to a public office. Three accepted plea agreements last September,
leaving six to go to trial.

Attorney Dan Greene, who represents one of the defendants, said motions
to dismiss a jury pool are filed occasionally but seldom granted.

A hearing is scheduled tomorrow to determine when the case will resume.

Weber has urged prosecutors to consider reducing the misdemeanor charges
against the remaining defendants to infractions, saving taxpayers the cost of
putting on a trial.

Prosecutors said they had discussed that possibility with City Attorney
Jan Goldsmith and were prepared to proceed with the case as currently charged.

According to spokesman Jonathan Heller, the City Attorney's Office “is
certainly willing to agree to try this case as an infraction if the defense
proposes it.”

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