Attorneys for jailed activists David Agranoff and Danae Kelley will, on Thursday, July 28, ask Judge Irma Gonzalez to let their clients go.
Agranoff and Kelley were jailed on July 12 after refusing to cooperate with a federal grand jury investigation into an August 2003 arson fire that destroyed an unfinished La Jolla apartment complex. The fire happened the same day animal-rights activist Rod Coronado was scheduled to speak at the Hillcrest LGBT Center as part of “Revolution Summer”-a series of progressive political events organized by Agranoff. A sign left at the fire attributed the blaze to the Earth Liberation Front, a group for which Coronado once served as spokesperson. Coronado, Agranoff, Kelley and other activists subpoenaed by the grand jury have denied any involvement in the fire.
Jeremy Warren, Agranoff's attorney, confirmed Tuesday that his client had been put in solitary confinement for nearly four days after a July 19 protest in front of the jail by Agranoff's supporters.
“We had to talk to the legal representative of the jail, and she worked on it and got him out,” Warren said. “It's so uncommon that someone's in custody under what we call the recalcitrant-witness statute that the jail kind of just didn't know what they were doing.”
A message from a friend of Kelley's posted to the website San Diego IndyMedia said the 21-year-old vegan isn't feeling well and has been subsisting on “Wonder Bread, a tiny portion of peanut butter and some lettuce,” despite requests for fruit and vegetables.
Warren said jail officials have been providing Agranoff, also a vegan, with appropriate meals.
But, he said, “the bottom line is he was put in the hole. It was very tough for him, but his spirits are very high and his will is stronger than ever. He's doing great-he will not crack.”
It's on that latter point that Warren and Julie Blair, attorney for Kelley, will base their argument Thursday. The law under which the two are jailed says incarceration should have a coercive, not punitive, effect.
“If it's no longer having a coercive effect,” said Warren, “if it's not pressuring them to testify to get out of jail but just punishing them after they've absolutely made up their minds never to testify, the judge has to let them out.
“Intellectually speaking, that should be even on the first day,” he said, “but practically speaking, a lot of judges will want to keep them in longer because it is speculative-how do we really know that they won't testify.”
Unlike previous hearings before Gonzalez, this one, scheduled for 4 p.m. at the downtown Federal Courthouse, is open to the public.