Justice Department pushes for jail time for woman convicted of laughing during Jeff Sessions hearing

Outburst happened when former colleague said Attorney General's record of 'treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well documented'

Harriet Agerholm
Tuesday 11 July 2017 14:41
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Woman ejected from Jeff Sessions confirmation hearing after laughing

The US Justice Department has called for prison time for a woman convicted after laughing during Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearing.

Activist Desiree Fairooz laughed when Republican Senator Richard Shelby introduced Mr Sessions saying his record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well documented".

Ms Fairooz was detained and charged with disorderly conduct along two men who dressed in white Ku Klux Klan outfits in protest against Mr Sessions' appointment.

She was convicted of "disorderly or disruptive conduct" and protesting on Capitol grounds on 22 June by a jury.

A lawyer acting for Ms Fairooz asked Judge Robert Morin to ignore the verdict, arguing the "brief reflexive burst of noise" was not proved to have disrupted proceedings.

But Justice Department attorneys argued the jury "could reasonably infer that the laugh was a deliberate disruption" and asked the judge to uphold the initial verdict.

“The jury could infer from testimony and video evidence about the laugh and Fairooz’s subsequent conduct that her laugh was an intentional, loud statement of disagreement,” prosecutors said in the filing.

“The jury could have considered that upon being removed, Fairooz had a sign at the ready and loudly proclaimed and demonstrated her views. The jury then could reasonably view the resulting disruption as both an intentional and foreseeable result of the defendant’s course of conduct.”

Ms Fairooz faces up to a year in prison.

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