Over the last two years, many of you have supported Gregory Koger both emotionally and financially while he has defended himself from a vindictive prosecution spearheaded by the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago. The Ad Hoc Committee for Reason, formed to help with Gregory’s defense, wants to update you on the status of his case.
You’ll recall that Gregory was arrested in November, 2009 at the EHSC where he was peacefully video-recording Sunsara Taylor as she made a very brief statement before the Sunday meeting began. He was charged with three misdemeanors: trespassing, simple battery, and resisting arrest. These are often called “cover charges” because they are frequently used by police to cover up their own misconduct. In August 2010, Gregory was convicted of all three charges in a trial that was loaded with judicial and prosecutorial bias against him.
Despite many letters of support and personal testimony in Gregory’s favor, Judge Marguerite Quinn sentenced Gregory to 300 days in Cook County jail. Misdemeanor convictions generally receive either no jail time or very little. Despite the fact that Gregory’s lawyer asked for bail while his case was appealed, Judge Quinn refused to grant bail, which is also unusual in misdemeanor cases, and she sent Gregory directly to Cook County jail.
After being jailed for two months, the Illinois Appellate Court granted Gregory bail, in spite of the State’s Attorney’s opposition. Gregory’s next step was to file a written appeal. Before preparing his appeal, Gregory had to pay for the costly official transcript of his trial. Many of you helped raise money for Gregory’s lawyers and for the transcript. Once the appeal brief was filed, the State’s Attorney’s officereceived several time extensions to file its rebuttal.
A few weeks ago, the State’s Attorney’s office finally filed its rebuttal. Gregory and his lawyers were surprised to discover that this rebuttal is replete with errors and appalling misrepresentations of fact. Following are a few examples of the prosecution’s misrepresentations, which could certainly be expected to improperly bias the Appellate Court judges against Gregory as they review his appeal:
1. The State’s Attorney continues to erroneously equate being asked to stop videotaping withtrespass. Gregory’s attorneys objected to this misstatement of the law throughout the trial and in their appeal brief. To be legally guilty of trespass, a person must be ordered to leave by the property owner or the owner’s authorized representative, and must be given time and opportunity to leave. In fact, the then-president of EHSC testified under oath that he never asked Gregory to leave before he was grabbed, dragged, and assaulted by the police.
2. The State’s Attorney claims that Gregory and Sunsara Taylor arrived just one minute before the EHSC program was set to start, apparently in an effort to make it appear to the Appellate Court as if Gregory and Ms. Taylor wanted to disrupt the program. But, there was no such testimony; in fact, several witnesses testified that the pair entered EHSC at least 10 minutes before the scheduled start of the program.
3. The State’s Attorney’s rebuttal falsely claims that an ex-EHSC board member testified that Ms. Taylor was never actually invited to speak on the Sunday when Gregory was arrested. Actually, this board member testified under oath that Ms. Taylor WAS invited, and that an announcement of her talk was published, and widely distributed, in the EHSC newsletter.
4. The State’s Attorney’s rebuttal claims that the former president of EHSC testified that he told Gregory to leave on the fateful morning. In fact, as mentioned above, the court record shows he actually stated that he did NOT tell Gregory to leave.
In the next few weeks, Gregory and his attorneys will prepare a reply to the State’s Attorney’s rebuttal that points out these misrepresentations. We hope that the Appellate Court judges will see the contradictions between the actual court record and the prosecutors’ misrepresentations of fact and law, and that they will wisely conclude that Gregory’s conviction should be overturned.
Your support for Gregory’s defense has been invaluable, and we are all very grateful to you.