Section: CAPITAL REGION Page: B7 Date: Wednesday, November 22, 2000
ACTIVIST FREE ON BAIL PENDING APPEAL
Activist Eugene Burt was released Tuesday from jail on $7,500 bail while he appeals his recent sentencing for a conviction stemming from a demonstration at the Amadou Diallo trial last winter. Burt, 39, was sentenced Friday by City Court Judge Stephen W. Herrick to 45 days in jail and placed on three years' probation for the misdemeanor conviction of second-degree criminal contempt. ``He has no reason to flee and, quite frankly, no funds to flee,'' said defense attorney Randall E. Kehoe, asking for a low bail. County Court Judge Larry J. Rosen agreed. ``Mr. Burt has had ties to this community as long as I can remember. He's certainly not going to flee for fear of doing 27 days in the county jail,'' said Rosen. Burt, who would have to serve at least 30 days of the sentence if the conviction stands, had already served three days in jail before his release. Burt recently served a six-month sentence for disrupting a religious service by shouting anti-Semitic and ethnic slurs through a bullhorn in 1999. He claimed he didn't know there was a service going on inside the church.
On Tuesday, he criticized an order from Herrick that he undergo a mental health evaluation. ``I'm totally offended that the DA's office thinks I was protesting because I was having some kind of psychological breakdown,'' he said. Burt said he demonstrated out of concern for Diallo, an unarmed Bronx man who was killed by four undercover New York City officers, who were acquitted. Meanwhile, a prosecutor this week disputed allegations by Burt's defense attorney that a female juror ``raised'' a city police officer who was assigned to the courtroom during his trial. The juror's remarks, made during the questioning of potential jurors, was that she ``knows casually, not personally, a couple of police officers,'' Assistant District Attorney Francisco Calderon said. The officers went to school with her children, the prosecutor said. In papers seeking to set aside the guilty verdict against Burt, Kehoe asserted that the officer's presence in the courtroom may have intimidated the juror. Calderon countered that the allegation about the juror ``wasn't an issue, because it wasn't true.'' ``The whole thing about a foster mother was wholly made up. I called the officer in, and (he) did not even know the woman personally. It was a total fabrication on Mr. Kehoe's part,'' he said.