Juanita Young

Juanita Young

Over two years ago, Juanita Young, mother of Malcolm Ferguson (killed by a plainclothes cop in March 2000) and outspoken anti-police brutality activist, was literally given a rude awakening on an early Saturday morning by police officers and her landlord and informed that she was trespassing, although she was never given an eviction notice. As her children were told to "get the fuck out," Ms. Young, who is legally blind, rose from her own bed to be handcuffed and aggressively pushed out of her apartment and building, falling twice and injuring her arm.

Held for 35 hours and after a harrowing experience with the law enforcement personnel who made it very distressingly clear to Ms. Young that they knew who she was - that is, a prominent activist against police brutality (one of the cops at the arrest commented to her, “No rallies for you today.”) - Ms. Young was charged with "criminal trespassing." For the last two years Ms. Young has had a total of nineteen court appearances to date, and on May 24, 2005, Bronx Supreme Court Judge Steven L. Barrett denied the Motion to Dismiss in the Interest of Justice that was filed by Juanita Young's lawyer, Geoffrey Stewart of the Law Office of Lynne F. Stewart. (Download a pdf file of the motion at  http://october22-ny.org/Motion.pdf). This despite how transparently bogus these charges are, with the DA's refusal to drop the charges, his office's repeated offers of ACDs (Adjournment Contemplating Dismissal), and the conspicuous fabrications in the DA response to the motion exposing the deliberate persecution of Ms. Young for her activism work. See below for account of the last court date, as compiled by the Justice Committee.

Juanita Young is not only a recognized leader who is steadfast in and committed to the fight against injustice and police brutality, her selfless dedication for justice is a galvanizing force for many others. As an activist with the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality and other social justice organizations, Ms. Young continues to organize many other families whose loved ones have been killed by law enforcement and those who have been brutalized and those who suffer under the post-9/11 escalation of police violence.

In no small part, Ms. Young's compelling qualities in the face of such personal and emotional travails have inspired many supporters, community activists, and even elected officials to rally behind her and her family.

Your visible support is needed at the start of her trial to make clear to the judge and the DA that we know this isn't just any old eviction case and to demand that the charges get dropped. An outspoken activist who has been experiencing a pattern of harassment by law enforcement since they killed her son being tried for trespassing in her own home reeks of the relentless pursuit to silence one whose voice brings strength to the movement for social justice. HANDS OFF JUANITA YOUNG!

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PACK THE COURT ON September 6, 2005 in support of Juanita Young!

ARGUMENTS BEGIN AT 10:00am
Bronx Supreme Court - Part 60 (4th floor – Judge Barrett's chambers)
851 Grand Concourse (off 161st Street), Bronx (4/D to 161st Street)

Sign up to a shift to be in the courtroom to support Juanita during her trial  justicecommittee@hotmail.com or 212-614-5343

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Read more about Juanita at  http://www.gvny.com/columns/lamb/lamb07-11-03.html




Synopsis of July 18, 2005 Court date for Juanita Young

On July 18th Bronx mother and anti-police brutality activist, Juanita Young, returned to Bronx Supreme Court for the 18th time in two years on “criminal trespassing” charges. Steadfastly refusing to accept an Adjournment Contemplating Dismissal (ACD) deal offered by Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, Juanita is now facing criminal trial proceedings, which were initially scheduled to begin on June 27th. On that date, however, the District Attorney’s office was not prepared to go forward, telling Acting Supreme Court Judge Steven Barrett that the DA’s witness was not available.

Again on July 18th, ADA Amir Toosi told Judge Barrett that one witness, a policeman, was in court only for the one day but leaving early in the morning for vacation and would not be available again until July 28th.

He said his office was ready to go forward with the trial but that another witness would not be available until July 27th. Representing Juanita Young, Attorney Geoffrey Stewart said the Defense was also ready for trial.

Since Judge Barrett is a “Calendar Judge” the case had to be assigned to a Trial Judge. The Court then had to search the schedule to find an available courtroom. While that process was going on, however, the ADA announced his intention to reduce Juanita’s charge from a “Class A” misdemeanor to a “Class B” misdemeanor.

While still a criminal charge carrying potential jail time, reduction to a “Class B” misdemeanor, said Attorney Geoffrey Stewart, “is a tactic that the District Attorney uses to deprive a defendant of her right to a jury trial, because you have a Constitutional right to a jury trial on an ‘A’ misdemeanor but not on a ‘B’- so rather than have this case heard by people from the Bronx, they want to take their chances with a Judge.”

The case was sent from Judge Barrett to Supreme Court Judge Robert G. Seewald, two blocks down in the Criminal Court Building for a pre-trial hearing scheduled to begin at 2:15pm. That hearing (called a “Huntely” hearing) was to address the legality of the arrest, after which the trial was to begin.

Juanita and her Attorney intended to oppose the reduction before Judge Seewald – opting instead to take their chances with the "Class A" in front of a jury. However, just prior to the hearing the ADA informed Attorney Stewart that a recording had been made of testimony of the entire “eviction” incident given by the police officer before the CCRB. This was the same officer called to testify in the current hearing, and Stewart had not been given the tape for review prior to that Officer’s testimony.

Raising this before Judge Seewald, Stewart proposed that the officer begin his testimony on the 18th and return the following day – thus giving the attorney time to review the officer’s CCRB tape. ADA Toosi, however, said he could not compel his witness to return to court the next day due to a prior scheduled vacation but asked that the hearing begin anyway and then continue on the 27th. Stewart objected to this saying such a process would break continuity. After consultation with the first Judge the case was sent back to Barrett’s courtroom and is currently rescheduled for September 6th.

At this point Juanita Young’s charges remain “criminal trespassing” as a “Class A” misdemeanor -eligible for a jury trial. Attorney Geoffrey Stewart says he intends to use the next month to mount a strong opposition to the charge reduction, “The D.A. would rather have Judges hear these cases rather than juries - they don’t want the people of the community to hear and decide these cases because they know it’s in our favor.”


Compiled by the Justice Committee-NYC, P.O. Box 1885, NY, NY 10159-1885
For more information call: 212-614-5343 or e-mail  justicecommittee@hotmail.com