Prosecutors from the Department of Justice have asked a judge to uphold the jury’s “guilty” verdict against Code Pink activist Desiree Fairooz, who was arrested for laughing at Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing in January. Her sentencing is scheduled on Friday. She, along with two other Code Pink protesters, could face up to a year in prison.
Capitol Police Officer Katherine Coronado, a rookie cop with no prior experience covering Congressional hearings, arrested Fairooz after she laughed during the Jan. 10 hearing. The jury foreperson told the Huffington Post they “did not agree that she should have been removed for laughing,” but believed that Fairooz was guilty of disorderly conduct and unlawful parading for raising a protest sign and yelling after she was escorted away. “She did not get convicted for laughing. It was her actions as she was being asked to leave,” the foreperson said.
The Huffington Post reports that in a court document signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Paschall, the DOJ defended the verdict, writing that the jury “could reasonably infer that the laugh was a deliberate disruption.”
The letter also stated that “Fairooz’s yelling and sign display thereafter disrupted the hearing and clearly exceeded the permissible bound of the tourist test,” it read, referring to the guideline that requires government to prove that a protester is being “more disruptive” than a tourist visiting Capitol Hill.
Fairooz’s lawyer has argued that the jury’s decision “was not reasonable in its evaluation of the evidence,” and asked the judge to overturn its decision.
“I don’t regret having laughed. At the moment, I didn’t think anything was going to happen,” Fairooz told Jezebel in an interview after the verdict was delivered in May. “I was charged with parading, but they paraded me. It was maddening. I was upset at that point and I thought this was unjust and that they were just making an example of me. And then I thought well, they’re going to arrest me, I might as well have my message up while they do so. And that’s when I held the sign.”