BLM Leader Jamaica Miles’ Legal Proceedings Take An Odd Twist

In its January 4, 2022 edition, The Daily Gazette reported that the following day (January 5, 2022), Black Lives Matter activist and Schenectady School Board member Jamaica Miles was due in court to face charges over her actions in a July 14,2021, protest in downtown Saratoga Springs. The Gazette coverage of Ms. Miles’ court appearance was extensive and differed significantly from the brief and inaccurate account in the Times Union.

Miles complained to the Gazette that she was not offered an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACOD) by the Saratoga County District Attorney who had offered this to others arrested for their actions at the same event. An ACOD basically offers a defendant the dismissal of the charge if they are not re-arrested for a specific period of time.

The Gazette reporter, Brian Lee, followed up with Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen who told him that Ms. Miles had been offered an ACOD by Saratoga Springs City Court Judge Francine Vero but had turned it down.

Lee reported that “Heggen questioned why it would matter that her office hadn’t offered an outcome that Miles had already rejected.”

Miles nevertheless continued to insist that since Heggen had not offered her an ACOD she was being treated differently from other defendants because of her politics even though she had already rejected the same offer from the judge.

Miles alleged that the District Attorney’s office was somehow part of a campaign launched by retiring Assistant Police Chief John Catone to shut down Black Lives Matter.

“It is consistent with the statement that was made by the assistant chief of police, and it is consistent with the idea that the DA’s office is possibly even supportive of the notion of preventing other people from exercising their First Amendment rights by intimidating the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement locally, and that’s myself and Lexis Figuereo,” Miles said.

“I’ve done my research and talked to lawyers and other folks,” she said. “The unlawful imprisonment charge is ridiculous, and the DA refuses to drop it, which I believe is politically motivated.”

Daily Gazette January 4, 2022

Follow up Story

There was a follow up story in the January 5, 2022, edition of the Daily Gazette that included a video of Ms. Miles attacking both the police and the District Attorney’s office for what she alleged was retaliation.

The story reported that Judge Vero, for the second time, tried to resolve the matter with an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACOD).

Assistant District Attorney Joseph Frandino, representing the Saratoga County District Attorney’s office, declined Judge Vero’s offer. Instead, he offered to reduce the charge against Miles from unlawful imprisonment down to disorderly conduct. Miles declined that deal.

Judge Vero asked the prosecutor why he had turned down the ACOD. The Gazette quoted Frandino who said, “it is my understanding that neither side would be willing to consent to an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.”

Mile’s attorney, Thomas Keefe, responded that since the county didn’t consent, any response from the defendant was irrelevant.

According to the story, the reporter asked Miles whether she would accept an ACOD if the assistant District Attorney changed his position. Miles responded, “I’m not willing to discuss that right now.”

Instead, Miles told reporters that the DA’s office actions were simply an attack on Black Lives Matter and meant to intimidate people from exercising their rights.

The Charges

In some impressive reporting, the Gazette reporter, Brian Lee reviewed the charging document in the Miles case along with other related public documents.

Miles is charged with having “intentionally and unlawfully restrained the movement of another person by physically placing herself in front of a motor vehicle on Broadway and Phila Street.”

The Gazette stories are behind a paywall but the newspaper does allow a minimal number of stories to be read each month without charge. The story goes into some detail regarding the events that led to Ms. Miles’ arrest. I would encourage people interested in this to go to the Gazette website.

According to the Gazette, documents related to the case indicate that the passenger whose car was allegedly trapped by protesters had called 911 twice. Following this, the group retreated. According to the Gazette, the passenger statement included, “I thanked them and they continued to walk away.”

Briefly, Ms. Miles’s attorney argued that the “passenger hadn’t alleged that he had been ‘confined.'” The attorney argued that unlawful imprisonment requires restraint. Miles’ attorney requested that the case be dismissed on a motion “in the interest of justice.”

According to the Gazette, Miles’ attorney argued that there are eight elements to a motion to dismiss in the interest of justice. He argued that the seriousness of the offense is one of them, and it is in dispute.

The following is from the Wikipedia entry on “Motion in the interest of Justice” and it identifies the eight elements that must be met:

More recently, the statute has been employed to reach cases in which the court found for a variety of reasons that the ends of justice would be served by the termination of the prosecution.[8] Indeed, it has been stated that the use of the statute depended only on principles of justice, not on the legal or factual merits of the charge or even on the guilt or innocence of the defendant.[9]

The provisions of N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law §§ 210.40 and 210.45 require a hearing when either the prosecution or the defendant moves to dismiss the indictment in the furtherance of justice.

At the hearing the parties may, if they are so advised, present such evidence and arguments as may be pertinent to the interests of justice. Among the considerations which are applicable to the issue are (a) the nature of the crime, (b) the available evidence of guilt, (c) the prior record of the defendant, (d) the punishment already suffered by the defendant, (e) the purpose and effect of further punishment, (f) any prejudice resulting to the defendant by the passage of time and (g) the impact on the public interest of a dismissal of the indictment.

Wikipedia

The judge declined to take action on Miles’ attorney’s motion and an evidentiary hearing was set for January 20, 2022.

Miles held a press conference on the steps of city hall the video of which is available on the Gazette website.

The Times Union Misreports

The Times Union resident gossip columnist, Wendy Liberatore, published an article on the Miles case in the January 5, 2021 edition. She incorrectly wrote:

Accusing the Saratoga District Attorney’s Office of abusing its power and intimidating Black Lives Matter protesters a social justice advocate rejected an offer to ultimately dismiss her charges and is instead opting to go to trial. Jamaica Miles, co-founder of All of Us and a Schenectady Board of Education member, declined an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal on disorderly conduct and unlawful imprisonment charges in Saratoga Springs City Court on Tuesday morning.

Times Union January 5, 2021

As the story in the Gazette correctly reported, Ms. Miles did not reject an offer to dismiss her charges when she appeared in court on Tuesday. This offer was never made as the county Assistant District Attorney declined to sign off on that and only offered to reduce the unlawful imprisonment down to a charge of disorderly conduct.

When asked by the Gazette whether she would accept an ACOD if the Assistant DA changed his position, Ms. Miles responded that “I’m not willing to discuss that right now.” This seems inconsistent with the TU story which asserted she wanted a trial.

Support The Daily Gazette

I would like to urge the readers of this blog to subscribe to the Daily Gazette. The decline of newspapers is a threat to our democracy. Without local coverage of news, it is impossible to keep politicians honest.

The Daily Gazette is one of the last independent locally owned newspapers in the region. It has an outstanding history of fair and rigorously accurate reporting. Its latest reporter to cover Saratoga Springs, Brian Lee, follows on the heels of some really great reporters. At one time a reporter was assigned full-time to cover Saratoga County. Those of you old enough will remember the local coverage by Judy Patrick and Stephen Williams, both reporters of the highest caliber.

Unless we support papers like the Gazette, they will go the way of the Saratogian which now has almost no local news coverage.

Please consider subscribing.

2 thoughts on “BLM Leader Jamaica Miles’ Legal Proceedings Take An Odd Twist”

  1. Been a subscriber for years of the Gazette. They even ran a Pro-Life cartoon, virtually unheard of in the media today.

    Like

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