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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A snapshot of RNC “riot court”

Courtroom 101 of the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center Wednesday morning was bustling but well organized, as dozens of court employees, sheriff’s deputies, volunteer defense attorneys, county prosecutors, defendants and lookers-on conferred, scattered, and waited for their turn in front of District Court judge Joanne Smith.

Of the nearly 300 protesters arrested Monday and Tuesday in confrontations related to the Republican National Convention, about 80 were on the arraignment center docket for Wednesday.

Although it took until nearly 11 a.m. for the first case to be called, Smith and the attorneys present made short work of most cases, rambling through more than 10 in the first half-hour -- presumably to complete arraignments for defendants who by noon would have been held for 36 hours.

First up was Andrew Paul Temperante, who was charged with unlawful assembly. Volunteer defense attorney Conor Tobin presented a bail argument for Temperante -- who showed some civic pride by appearing in a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey -- by saying that his client was a lifelong resident of the Twin Cities who held a fulltime job at the Wedge Co-op in Minneapolis. Smith saw it the defense’s way, and released Temperante on reduced bail of $100 while continuing his initial court appearance until Sept. 25.

Noting the pace at which cases were being processed, one volunteer attorney was heard to remark, “My client has 10 people ahead of her, but the way they’re moving, I don’t dare leave to use the bathroom.”

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