Prosecution Reduces Charges to 7 of the Original 11, Public Viewing Restrictions Announced

The NATO 3—Brent Betterly, Brian Jacob Church, and Jared Chase—sat through another full day of jury selection today. Jury selection will resume tomorrow morning. A significant development in the case today was that the prosecution will not be trying an additional 2 counts that the defendants had been facing, reducing the number for trial down to 7 of the original 11 counts. The defendants will now be tried on the charges of material support for terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism, possession of an incendiary device (4 counts), and solicitation to commit arson.

We have also learned more about the public viewing process that will be used during trial. This process seems to be in the works still, so stay tuned for future updates. At this point, it seems that any person interested in attending the trial at any point will need to go to the Cook County criminal courthouse at 2650 South California Avenue to register as a spectator. Each person will need to provide a state-issued photo ID so that a background check can be run. This check will look for warrants and active orders for protection issued for anyone involved in the trial process (e.g., defendants, court clerks, attorneys, etc.).  We should know more about the registration location and hours soon, so stay tuned.

Once people are approved to be a spectator, they will need to show their photo ID each time they come to view the trial. Seating will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis until the courtroom is full. Additionally, all approved spectators will need to be in their seats 20 minutes prior to the start of court in the morning. No one will be allowed to enter or leave the courtroom while court is in session, so everyone will need to wait to use the restroom until the judge announces that the court is in recess. Open seats in the courtroom can only be filled when the court is in recess as well.

The public will also be prevented from taking notes during trial. Spectators cannot bring in pens, paper, bags, or purses (only personal items such as keys and wallets). The judge has outlined more rules in a trial decorum order, which should be published shortly and which we will be posting on our website.

The defense attorneys vigorously objected to these restrictions, arguing that they prevented the public from actually attending the trial and could raise due process issues for the defendants since they have the right to a public trial. The judge entered the trial decorum order over defense objections.

As much as we decry these restrictions for the ways they prevent us from showing the defendants the full support and solidarity they have from the community, we do not want to do anything to jeopardize their legal defense or shine a negative light on them during trial. We are thus asking all supporters who come to trial to abide by all the rules set forth by the judge.

We hope that these restrictions will not dissuade you from helping us pack the courtroom for the defendants! However, if you are one of the many people we fear will be unable to attend or will be intimidated out of doing so by these restrictions, you can still support the defendants in other ways! See our call-out for trial solidarity to find out how you can support them.

Finally, our Facebook page has a new name: Free the NATO 3!

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