Former Tree-Sitter Pleads No Contest, Will Serve Two Weeks

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OAKLAND-After months of involvement in the tree-sit protest and 93 days in jail, tree-sitter Michael Schuck pleaded no contest Wednesday to two counts of violating a court order and one count of trespassing. He smiled as he left the hearing to begin serving his final 14 days in jail.

Schuck, 26, was sentenced to 160 days in county jail, but was given credit for 146 days by the court. Of all the tree-sitters, he has spent the most time in jail.

Schuck attracted national media attention last Spring when he occupied an oak tree outside Wheeler Hall for two weeks and went by the nickname "Fresh." Both before and after that period, Schuck spent time in the trees near Memorial Stadium.

Schuck was once a student at the Haas School of Business, said UC Berkeley alumnus Jason Ahmadi, a former tree-sitter.

Schuck is also facing three years of probation, during which time he cannot set foot on UC Berkeley property except to register for classes, attend classes or complete community service requirements. Schuck has been sentenced to 240 hours of community service, which he must complete by Sept. 18, 2009.

Carol Strickman, Schuck's attorney, said that he pleaded no contest because he knew he had violated a court order.

"He had been ordered to stay away from the grove," she said. "And he went back to the trees."

The tree-sit began in December 2006 when protesters took issue with UC Berkeley's plan to build an athletic center in the oak grove near Memorial Stadium. The last protesters, including Schuck, came down from the trees on Sept. 11 after the campus was granted authority to begin construction.

Approximately 20 of Schuck's friends sat through hours of unrelated court hearings before Schuck's preliminary hearing began.

Schuck will return to court in February for a restitution hearing to determine the amount of money he owes UC Berkeley.

Ahmadi said he was amazed by Schuck's complacency while in jail. He said that when he went to visit Schuck in Santa Rita Jail, he was always smiling.

Ahmadi said he wasn't surprised at Schuck's plea.

"He wasn't necessarily interested in trying to fight the court," he said.


Contact Tess Townsend at [email protected]

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