The Orange County District Attorney has charged the so-called “Irvine 11” with conspiring to disrupt a speech by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren at UC Irvine last year. In a statement, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas defended the misdemeanor charges against the Muslim students saying “we cannot tolerate a preplanned violation of the law, even if the crime takes place on a school campus and even if the defendants are college students.” Last month, AirTalk broke the story that an Orange County grand jury had been convened and was considering conspiracy charges against the students. Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of UCI’s School of Law, said the students didn’t have a first amendment right to disrupt the speech, but that the criminal charges aren’t warranted. UCI had already taken disciplinary action against the disruptive students and suspended the Muslim Student Union (MSU) for the fall 2010 quarter. The MSU is also serving two years of probation. If convicted, the students face possible fines, probation, community service or jail time. Are the charges fair or overly harsh? What impact will they have?
Tony Rackauckas, Orange County District Attorney
Jacqueline Goodman, Fullerton-based criminal defense attorney representing 7 of the UCI students charged