Civil rights attorneys planned to file an appeal in Orange County today on behalf of Muslim students convicted of disrupting the Israeli ambassador’s speech at UC Irvine last year. The lawyers hope to know in eight to ten months whether the appeal will go through.
Attorneys for the 10 Muslim students say the California law on which a jury convicted their clients last month is unconstitutional.
Lead attorney Dan Stormer contends that as written, the misdemeanor law criminalizes in California forms of political speech the U.S. Constitution protects.
A jury found the students guilty of disrupting a public meeting and conspiring to do so. During a Feb. 2010 speech at UC Irvine by Israel’s ambassador to the United States, the students stood one by one and shouted scripted statements at the ambassador, accusing him and his country of murder and genocide.
During the trial, prosecutors called the students’ outbursts illegal disruptions that violated the ambassador’s free speech rights. Their attorneys argued that the students exercised their freedom of speech, too.
The judge sentenced each of the seven UC Irvine and three UC Riverside students to 56 hours of community service and three years’ probation.