Court Refuses to Intervene in Wheeler Hall Hearings





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An Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that courts will not interfere with UC Berkeley's hearings regarding the Wheeler Hall protesters until they are concluded.

Presiding Judge James Richman denied the plaintiffs' request to exclude some police evidence from the university's hearings.

The failed petition, heard in court Oct. 28, asked the court to throw out a police report stating that during the sit-in, plaintiff Roberto Hernandez bit a police officer and attempted to bite another officer.

Hernandez declined to comment on the court's decision.

"Even with this evidence, we know we didn't break any rules. We're not worried about it," said Hoang Phan, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine.

The protesters' legal team said this is not a defeat, adding they have no plans for appealing at this time.

"We're very pleased with the results," said UC attorney Jeff Blair. "It is what we hoped for."

Richman wrote in his ruling that the "courts will not interfere" until the university renders a "final decision," citing this as part of the court's rules.

The plaintiffs' legal team said that while they were not surprised by the ruling, they still felt the evidence they requested should have been excluded.

Dan Siegel, attorney for the protesters, called Richman's ruling the "standard approach."

"Courts generally choose not to get involved in situations like this," Siegel added. "We're asking the judge to do something outside of the norm, which he obviously decided not to (do)."

Siegel added that the legal team will "most likely" have to go through all the hearings of the protesters.

The university had indefinitely postponed the hearings until a ruling was made on the plaintiff's petition.

"We are pleased that the judge vindicated the university's position and now the student conduct cases can be heard and decided on their merit," said UC Berkeley spokesperson Marie Felde.

The Wheeler protester hearings will continue "as soon as possible," she said.

Anne Weills, another attorney for the protesters, said UC was violating its own rules, saying that the university did not allow hearings to be open to the public.

But Blair said Wednesday's ruling showed the court had accepted all of the university's arguments.

"The court has found the university has not violated any of its rules related to this hearing," he added.

All evidence will be submitted during the trial but will exclude the word "arrest" from any documents.

Weills said she is "disappointed" with the ruling and called the deletion of the word "arrest" the "magic marker reduction."

She added that the protesters may appeal at a later date depending on the outcome of the hearings.

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