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Judge: Stafford Not Guilty of Trespassing After Republican Caucus

St. Peters judge said the Ron Paul supporter was not given specific order or opportunity to leave the grounds.

Judge Donald Kohl ruled Brent Stafford not guilty of trespassing after the March 17 at Francis Howell North.

Kohl approved by defense attorney David Roland, of the Freedom Center of Missouri. Roland cross-examined prosecution witnesses, but had not yet presented defense witnesses.

“Those in authority can’t trespass unless they are specifically ordered to leave,” Kohl said while giving his ruling. “And then they have to be given an opportunity to leave.”

The St. Charles County Republican Central Committee had rented out the building, and Brent Stafford was a committee member. Roland said the city had not shown that Stafford, a Central Committee member, understood he had to leave the grounds, had been ordered to leave the grounds, or was given opportunity to leave after being ordered to do so.

Roland said the city of didn’t show either that Stafford was specifically ordered to leave or was allowed to leave.

Stafford was arrested for trespassing after the first St. Charles County Caucus was abruptly closed down. Three officers testified during the hearing that the crowd got threatening, but most dispersed after being asked to leave.

Stafford remained in the parking lot, trying to reconvene a meeting he said was improperly shut down, standing on a chair.

However, he was arrested by St. Peters Police Officers.

St. Peters Prosecutor Lorna Frahm said in rebuttal to Roland’s motion for acquittal that it wasn’t reasonable for 30 police officers to give specific orders to more than 1,000 people in the crowd. However, most of them obeyed by leaving, she said.

 “Once they arrested Mr. Stafford the crowd disbursed,” Frahm said.  The officers were concerned only with public safety, she said.

After the trial, Roland said, “It sounds like the judge focused on him not knowingly remaining where he was not allowed. He wasn’t given a specific order, and then he wasn’t given an opportunity to leave."

Officers said that they did not order him to leave as he was standing on the chair, but arrested him for disobeying orders to leave, and they felt everyone knew they were to leave the area.

Stafford said he felt vindicated, but wished he didn’t have to go through the trouble.

“It wasn’t my actions that put me in this situation,” Stafford said after the ruling. "It was the and Brian Spencer that put me in this situation. They weren’t following the rules and that put me in this position.”

Stafford said Dokes and Spencer tried to control the outcome of the March 17 Caucus, thus angering the crowd and necessitating his actions.

Dokes said he was happy for Stafford.

“If he feels like his rights were violated, I’m glad that he won,” Dokes said.

C Warren August 01, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Now some action needs to be taken against Dokes, Spencer and the St. Peters Police Officers who participated in Mr.Stafford's arrest !
Frieda August 02, 2012 at 02:06 AM
The charge should have been not obeyinhg a lawful ordwer of a police officer. All this talk about this being the fault of the caucus organizers is a smoke screen. The caucus started and ended in a riot caused by overheated partisan people. I witnessed the actions outside. A person standing on a chair (after being helped onto the chair by supporters) and exhorting supporters to stay in defiance of police orders is clearly not following police orders.
complexphenom August 02, 2012 at 03:01 AM
You're kidding right? Are you really asking me to forget that I saw the videos of blatant corruption that are posted all over youtube? You're shameless tricks don't work in these modern times Frieda. Best get back behind your mote again. Of course Stafford and all those gathered had a right to be present at the grounds given the widely publicized business to be conducted by political participants. Police can't arbitrarily enforce arbitrary rules which violate the 1st amendment right of free citizens to record political events. You'd have the USA turn into the USSR if it meant you and your ilk got to pull the strings. Disgusting.
Marvin Stehr August 02, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Brent must proceed to file a suit against the City of St. Peters for violating his constitutional rights. This will be a case filed in federal court. This must be done to endur that such gross violations of the First Amendment never occur again.
William Braudis April 17, 2013 at 01:15 AM
It is well understood that many, or so I am told, Judges learn Law out of Comic Books. I understand that, correct or incorrectly, it was taught in two publications, the first in Dumbo, the Judge, and the second edition, in Mickey Mouse Part Two for Mentally Challenge Candidates. Many Judges do not purchase the Second Edition. I know of no one like this, nor have I ever seen these books, but I am told that some are out there.

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