Section: CAPITAL REGION Page: B6 Date: Saturday, November 18, 2000
DIALLO TRIAL PROTESTER SENT TO JAILCAROL DeMARE Staff writer
Activist Eugene Burt was sentenced Friday to 45 days in county jail and placed on three years' probation for protesting at the Amadou Diallo trial last winter. City Court Judge Stephen W. Herrick sentenced Burt, 39, after rejecting a defense motion that a juror may have been intimidated at Burt's trial last month.
The defense claimed a police officer, who was raised by a woman juror, was assigned to the courtroom during the trial. Herrick said the verdict wasn't affected. Burt, of Albany, was convicted of a misdemeanor count of second-degree criminal contempt, which carries a maximum year in jail. It's against the law to agitate within 200 feet of a courthouse and to talk about the trial in progress. Burt started serving his sentence immediately. While 45 days may appear light, defense attorney Randall E. Kehoe said it will be tough for Burt to stay out of trouble while on probation. Burt has in the past run afoul of the law with street-corner rhetoric against police and Israel. Kehoe vowed to appeal, arguing demonstrators had a city permit. Burt claims he was singled out when arrested Feb. 22 because his rhetoric was against Albany police. Kehoe said he asked for community service, such as cleaning Academy Park, where the protests were held. That way Burt could ``give back to the community ... (and) reflect on his outcry.'' ``No crime of incarceration would fit his mere speech about justice,'' Kehoe said. Assistant District Attorney Francisco Calderon sought a sentence of 60 days and probation, saying: ``It was important that (Burt) receive intensive supervision. But the crime itself was not of a nature that justified a year's sentence.''