The jury just acquitted him on all four counts: concealing his identity, refusing to obey a lawful order, trespassing, and disorderly conduct. So just how weak was their case?
It wasn't just that the State lost. And it wasn't that the jury found for the defendant after only an hour of deliberation.
It's that the Defense didn't call any witnesses, or present any evidence:
The DA who brought the case should be brought up on professional misconduct grounds. The Police and TSA officials who hassled Mocek should be prosecuted. If the situation is so blatant that the jury doesn't even have to think about it, even after the Defense doesn't bother to argue the case, then these people are incompetent.
Mr. Mocek did not testify, and the defense rested on Friday without calling any witnesses or presenting any evidence. the jury found that even without rebuttal, the TSA and Albuquerque police had failed to satisfy their burden of proving any of the four charges: concealing his identity, refusing to obey a lawful order (it was never entirely clear whether this was supposed to have been an order to turn off his camera, an order to leave the airport despite having a valid ticket, or an order to show ID, none of which would have been lawful orders), trespassing, and disorderly conduct.
The best evidence in the case was the video from Mr. Mocek’s digital camera that both the TSA and the police had tried to stop Mr. Mocek from filming, and which ended when they seized his camera out of his hands and shut it off. In her closing argument, defense counsel Molly Schmidt-Nowara argued that the police and TSA witnesses were not credible, that their testimony was contradicted by the video and by common sense, that what they really objected to was having Mr. Mocek legally take pictures, and that any disorderly conduct was on the part of the police and TSA.
And there's some very interesting information at the link, including this:
Uncontested TSA and police testimony at the trial established, among other things, three important points:
Annoying the TSA is not a crime.
- Despite calling themselves “officers”, TSA checkpoint staff are not law enforcement officers and have no police powers — and both TSA and police are fully aware of this. When the TSA calls for the police, they are just like any other civilians who call the police, and the police have no obligation to do what they ask. Police should not and have no right to act, in such a case, unless the police have a reasonable basis for believing that a crime has actually been committed or is being committed.
- You have the right, recognized by the TSA, to fly without showing ID. “It happens all the time. We have a procedure for that,” according to the lead TSA “Travel Document Checker” at the Albuquerque airport. Signs and announcements in airports saying that all passengers must present ID are false.
- You have the right, recognized by the TSA, to photograph or film anywhere in publicly accessible areas of airports including TSA checkpoints, as long as you don’t violate any local laws, photograph the images on the screening monitors, interfere with the screening process, or slow down the line. (Whether those limitations to your First Amendment rights claimed by the TSA are legal or Constitutional was not decided in this case, since Mr. Mocek wasn’t filming the images on the screening monitors, interfering with the screening process, or slowing down the line.) Signs or statements that photography is prohibited at Federal checkpoints are, in general, false.
Note: I was a little skeptical about the "flying without ID" part. It seems that it's true.
UPDATE 25 January 10:42: Welcome everyone here via Facebook. New, breaking TSA idiocy news here.
UPDATE 25 January 11:59: People who want to contribute to Mr. Mocek's legal defense fund can do so here.