Portland, OR-July 3, 2012--Judge David Rees issued a ruling on Friday, June 29th, 2012 that John Brennan, the man who stood up against the TSA, is not entitled to a jury trial for the charges of indecent exposure. However, Judge Rees did grant that the appropriate burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt.
Mr. Brennan was arrested with the charge of disorderly conduct, which is a misdemeanor. The DA is prosecuting the case as a violation. A violation is a lesser charge, as opposed to a misdemeanor, which is a crime. The original charges entitled Mr. Brennan to three benefits of the law that he is not normally entitled to under a violation: The right to a court-appointed attorney, the right to a jury trial, and the right to be held to the standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt."
Mr. Brennan through his attorney, Michael Rose of Creighton & Rose, asked the court to allow the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt and a jury trial to be retained for his trial. Judge Rees split the request for Mr. Brennan's Motion to Determine Trial Procedure.
John Brennan's indecent exposure trial is set for July 18 at Multnomah County Courthouse.
On April 17, 2012, John Brennan was flying from Portland International Airport to San Jose on business. Going through TSA screening, he opted out of the backscatter machine.
Once a "male assist" TSA agent arrived, John passed through the metal detector with no problem, then they moved to a special screening area where John received a thorough a pat-down. When the TSA agent finished, the agent took a small piece of paper from a dispenser and transferred the residue from the gloves used for John's pat-down to the paper. The TSA agent latched the machine around the paper with the residue, and the machine made a noise. The noise seemed to raise an alarm for TSA, but John was not informed what was happening.
John noticed there was more activity around his screening area and, after asking what was going on, discovered that he had tested positive for nitrates, an explosive. Believing that one or more people from TSA were about to see him naked anyway, and wanting to speed the process up, John removed his clothes and said that he was not carrying explosives.
John believed he was within his legal rights to free speech (to be nude but not lewd as a form of protest) in Oregon, including Portland. Once his clothes were off, TSA agents and supervisors asked him to put them back on. He stated that he believed he was within his legal rights to be nude. John awaited TSA to resume his screening as the TSA threatened to have him arrested. John stood calmly and stayed focused on TSA staff. He was grounded, calm and responsive.
TSA called the Port of Portland Authority who asked John to put his clothes back on. John repeated that he believed he was within his rights to be naked as a form of protest. He was given another chance, then arrested, draped, and escorted through the airport to a holding cell where he was told that he would, in addition to the criminal charges, be subject to an investigation for interfering with the screening process. John was transferred to county jail and charged with indecent exposure and disorderly conduct.
The next day the disorderly conduct charges had been dropped, leaving only the misdemeanor charges of indecent exposure and the possible civil action for interfering with the screening process.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.
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