Chairez opts for civil disobedience case to go to trial
Trial date for blocking traffic arrest likely to be decided at April 13 hearing
April 4, 2012, 8:27 pm·
In an arraignment on April 2, Wharton sophomore Tania Chairez rejected the court’s offer of the Accelerated Misdemeanor Program, opting instead to go to a full trial.
Enrolling in the AMP program would have required Chairez to perform 15-20 hours of community service and pay around $200 in court fees, said Lloyd Long — an attorney at Krasner, Hughes and Long who is representing Chairez.
“This is very much still a part of our civil disobedience,” Chairez said of her rejection of the program. “I don’t want to take the easy way out to do community service to get my charges expunged. I want to directly challenge the system and showcase how flawed it really is.”
Chairez and Bryn Mawr College junior Jessica Hyejin Lee, both undocumented students, were arrested on March 14 on charges of blocking traffic and disorderly conduct. In a planned act of civil disobedience, the pair sat on the street in front of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices at 16th and Callowhill streets.
Along with members from DreamActivist Pennsylvania — a youth-led group advocating for immigrant rights — Chairez and Lee participated in a rally at LOVE Park that day.
Chairez and Lee spent a night in jail and were released March 15 under the conditions of agreeing to comply with subsequent legal proceedings.
Chairez’s next court date is scheduled for April 13, where a trial date will likely be decided, Long said.
“We’re hopeful and we think we have good reasons to expect that she will be acquitted at trial,” Long said. The “absolute worst case scenario,” which he does not anticipate, would involve a year and 90 days in jail for Chairez.
Long said Chairez’s case was brought to him because of his firm’s prior work with first amendment civil disobedience cases.
Lee, who had an arraignment on March 20, also rejected the court’s AMP offer. She is being represented by Lawrence Krasner, another attorney at Long’s firm.