Army Reserve Lt. Dan Choi was arrested in November for chaining himself to a fence around the White House, and the former Tustin resident claims the government is still pressing its case against him in federal court because he is gay and outspoken against “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.”
On Wednesday, Choi won a key believer of his claim: the federal magistrate presiding over the trial that began Monday.
Testimony presented so far indicates “the nature of his speech or what he said” meant Choi
was prosecuted differently, said Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola, according to the trial transcript.
Others who have pulled similar stunts have ultimately had charges against them dismissed, as had Choi previously when he was hauled before local D.C. courts for similar protests in March and April of 2010. For this prosecution, however, the charges were filed in federal court against Choi and 12 other protesters.
The other defendants accepted deals that had them pleading guilty in exchange for no jail time if they are not re-arrested within four months. Choi balked at that same deal offered to him Friday, and he is now facing a fine and up to six months in jail if convicted.
Facciola's statements prompted the government's attorney to inform the court the judge's actions will be reviewed by higher
authorities, reports the Huffington Post. Facciola then put the trial on hold for 10 days, something Choi's attorneys called a win, saying it will likely result in dismissal.
But the government then filed documents disputing the notion Choi was treated any differently than other protesters, an indication that they are at least pressing on with their case.
Here's a link to a post on Choi's March 2010 arrest, which prompted an evening vigil at UC Irvine:
Here's video that accompanied that post: