A majority of the jurors who this week convicted an Occupy Wall Street activist of assaulting a New York police officer have asked the judge in her case to not send her to prison.
Cecily McMillan was on Monday found guilty of deliberately elbowing officer Grantley Bovell in the face, as he led her out of a protest in March 2012. She was convicted of second-degree assault, a felony, and faces up to seven years in prison. She was denied bail and is being detained at Riker’s Island jail.
However, nine of the 12 jurors who unanimously reached the verdict have since taken the unusual step of writing to Judge Ronald Zweibel to request that he not give her a prison sentence on 19 May.
“We the jury petition the court for leniency in the sentencing of Cecily McMillan,” they wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Guardian. “We would ask the court to consider probation with community service.
“We feel that the felony mark on Cecily’s record is punishment enough for this case and that it serves no purpose to Cecily or to society to incarcerate her for any amount of time.”
The letter, which was signed by juror number two, Charles Woodard, was copied to all other members of the panel and to McMillan’s attorney, Martin Stolar.
The Guardian reported on Tuesday that several jurors, who were barred from researching the trial while it was happening, were shocked to discover that McMillan could receive a substantial prison term when they searched for details online, minutes after being dismissed.
“They felt bad,” said one juror, who did not wish to be named. “Most just wanted her to do probation, maybe some community service. But now what I’m hearing is seven years in jail? That’s ludicrous. Even a year in jail is ridiculous.”
Stolar said on Thursday: “I think this letter is a significant statement from people who have deep familiarity with the facts of the case.
“It is an expression on their part that she has been punished enough. It also tracks the argument that defence counsel will be making.”