To the surprise of close observers of proceedings that were often comical in their ineptitude, a six-member jury returned guilty verdicts against all three defendants in Tacoma Municipal Court on Friday in a trial arising from the port militarization resistance (PMR) protests at the Port of Tacoma in March 2007.  --  Jeff Berryhill, Caitlin Esworthy, and Wally Cuddeford were all found guilty of obstructing police, and Cuddeford was also found guilty of resisting arrest and one charge of "misdemeanor assault" on a police officer (he was also found not guilty on another charge of assault against a different officer).  --  Phan Nguyen, who has been providing accounts of the trial, wrote:  "Will there be appeals?  You bet!  --  These are the first successful convictions in a port protest-related case since the inception of PMR as a movement."  --  He promised that after some other upcoming trials, "we'll go after the City of Tacoma in civil court.  We're not done yet."[1] ...


Notes on the Tacoma PMR trial

By Phan Nguyen

February 1, 2008

TACOMA, Washington -- The jury verdict came in on the trial of Caitlin Esworthy, Wally Cuddeford, and Jeff Berryhill at 2:50 p.m. today.

You could tell how it turned out when the jury walked into the courtroom and past the three defendants without any of the jurors looking at the defendants.

Here are the verdicts:

Cailtin, obstruction: GUILTY
Jeff, obstruction: GUILTY
Wally, obstruction: GUILTY
Wally, resisting arrest: GUILTY
Wally, misdemeanor assault (on Sgt. Jagodinski): GUILTY
Wally, misdemeanor assault (on Sgt. Barrett): NOT GUILTY

Following the verdict, the judge issued the sentencing:

Caitlin: $100 fine, 365 days suspended on two-year probation
Jeff: $100 fine, 365 days suspended on two-year probation
Wally (for three counts): $300 fine, 820 days suspended on two-year probation

The defendants were given the option to do community service in place of the fine. Unless other arrangements are made with the judge, the community service has to be performed in one of 11 agencies listed in a sheet entitled, "Approved Alternative Community Service Agencies -- Tacoma Municipal Court."

For instance, you could do community service at a certain "pregnancy clinic" in Tacoma that serves as a front for a Christian anti-abortion agenda. Most of the other 10 "alternative community service agencies" listed were Christian agencies.

Concerning the two assault charges for Wally: It's interesting that Wally was acquitted on the assault against Barrett, but was convicted for the assault charge against Jagodinski.

The one witness who claimed both assaults was Sgt. Barrett. Sgt. Jagodinski himself testified in court but never accused Wally of assaulting him and never claimed anyone particular had shoved him, which was the accusation.

So the jury had to have concluded that Sgt. Barrett was wrong about Wally assaulting him but was right about Wally assaulting Jagodinski, even though Jagodinski never made that claim himself.

I'll have a lengthier report and personal reflections about today and yesterday's court proceedings soon. Scandal and intrigue abound. In the meantime, I do want to say that despite often being inept and ridiculously evoking "Hannity & Colmes" and "Forrest Gump," the prosecutor knew how to push the right buttons with the jury. It also helped that the jury had an unfavorable demographic makeup.

Will there be appeals? You bet!

These are the first successful convictions in a port protest-related case since the inception of PMR as a movement. Here's the score for the City of Tacoma:

Number of arrests in March 2007: 37
3 felony assault charges against Wally, Caitlin, and Jeff: DISMISSED ON ARRAIGNMENT
1 misdemeanor assault charge against Caitlin: DISMISSED IN SUMMER 2007
1 misdemeanor assault charge against Jeff: DISMISSED BY DIRECTED VERDICT ON JAN 31, 2008
13 charges of disobeying an officer (backpack cases, citizens' injunction cases, and Karen Weill): DISMISSED -- UNDER APPEAL BY CITY
Two people arrested on March 9 & 12, 2007: PLEA BARGAIN?
Caitlin, Wally, and Jeff's trial: SEE ABOVE FOR THE SORDID DETAILS

All in all, not too bad. But still, justice isn't being served -- not that you'd expect to find justice in a court of law. Had some laughs here and there, at least.

There are two more port-related trials coming up:

-- One trial for 5 people arrested at the Port of Tacoma on March 9 & 12, 2007. Each person is charged with failure to disperse, I think. February 11.

-- Another trial for Wally for talking "too long" at the Tacoma City Council. One count of disturbing a city function (or something like that -- I'm too lazy to check right now) and one count of resisting arrest. Coming up Feb. 27?

Then, in late March, we'll be in Superior Court to revisit the 13 backpack & citizens' injunction dismissals. Since I'm representing myself in that case, I'll get to make oral arguments, and I am so looking forward to it. After that, we'll go after the City of Tacoma in civil court. We're not done yet.

Defense attorneys Larry Hildes (with Karen Weill) and Gregory Smith did an excellent job, and so did the defendants and defense witnesses.

Thanks, everyone, for your support in this recent trial. Donations for Caitlin, Wally, and Jeff's legal fund can be made out to:

Jeff Berryhill
910 4th Ave E.
Olympia, WA 98506