Saturday, July 30, 2005 | Not 24 hours after they had appeared in court to – unsuccessfully – petition for their clients’ freedom, attorneys for two San Diego activists found themselves back before the same judge Friday afternoon. This time, Danae Kelley and David Agranoff were set free.
The extraordinary u-turn in the defendants’ case is the result of a successful appeal lodged by their attorneys in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. That appeal, which was launched 19 days ago, came before the court Friday, and was passed by two of the three judges.
Bail was set at $1,000 for each defendant. The activists will not be allowed to leave the Southern or Central California Districts while their appeal is pending.
The ruling overturns U.S. District Chief Judge Irma Gonzalez’s refusal to grant bail to the the two activists. Gonzales ruled on July 12 that the defendants were in contempt of court when they refused to give evidence before an FBI-instigated Grand Jury investigation. The defendants had argued that the Grand Jury proceedings were overly secretive and violated their rights under the First Amendment.
According to attorney Jeremy Warren, who represents Agranoff, Gonzales disagreed and jailed them. Crucial to yesterday’s decision, she also denied them bail on the grounds that their appeal was without merit.
While this decision has no effect on the primary ruling against the defendants that they were in contempt of court, Warren said it does lend credence to their argument that the Grand Jury process violates their legal rights under the First Amendment.
“The government argued that the law prevented bail because the issue was frivolous, and the district court agreed,” said Warren. “But in granting bail, pending appeal, the Court of Appeal said at a minimum, that the issue deserves consideration.”
While the two defendants were still imprisoned at the time of publication, their attorneys, friends and family said that the two were clearly delighted by the decision, especially as it came as a complete surprise.
“They had ear to ear grins,” said Warren. “They were really happy. They had no idea when they were brought over from the jails why they were here. Obviously they were stunned, they were thrilled.”
Kelley’s mother, Kim Quashnick, said that she was very surprised that her daughter was being released. She said the 21-year-old activist has strong beliefs and is unlikely to ever back down on her principles. Asked what her daughter is likely to do when she gets out, she said Kelley is likely to play with her cats and go and get some really good food.
Alex Malkovich, a longtime friend of Kelley’s who has visited her daily while she has been imprisoned, agreed that food would be on his friend’s mind.
“She said she’s going to eat some cookies,” said Malkovitch, “vegan cookies.”
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