Once again a federal judge in Sacramento has denied a jury trial to a defendant who is a regular among anti-drone protesters at Beale Air Force Base.
U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd, like two colleagues before him, cited U.S. Supreme Court precedent holding that there is no right to a jury trial if the penalty is capped at six months in prison.
And, like his colleagues, he said it is unclear whether he has the discretion to grant a jury trial, but, even if the law allows him that latitude, he would not do so in this instance.
Drozd did not mention the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment, which guarantees a jury trial to criminal defendants, without exception.
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In the motion for a jury trial, Chief Assistant Federal Defender Linda Harter argued that, in cases outside the Eastern District of California, “where the charges against the defendants stemmed from protests or actions against the government, (they) have been granted jury trials, even where the charges have been considered petty.”