Attorneys representing the Irvine 11 – Muslim college students who face misdemeanor criminal charges over the disruption of a 2010 speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at UCI – asked a judge to remove the O.C. District Attorney’s office from the case during an arraignment in Santa Ana Superior Court on Friday.
Defense lawyers are requesting that the state Attorney General handle the prosecution instead, claiming that the O.C. prosecutors illegally issued subpoenas and referred to the case internally as the “UCI Muslim Case,” the Orange County Register is reporting.
Prosecutors said the defense motion is based on slender evidence.
“The evidence that they say supports the motion is incredibly thin, so we’re happy to litigate that motion,” said Assistant District Attorney Dan Wagner.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter J. Wilson set an April 15 date for the next hearing at which he could decide whether to allow the motion to be litigated.
Wagner said the use of the “UCI Muslim Case” in the subject line of the email was simply shorthand for saying the Muslim Student Union “and I think it will be found very clearly that that’s no basis to recuse our office.”
About 150 supporters jammed the hallway outside the courtroom and then for a news conference following the hearing, with several of them using blue painter’s tape to cover their mouths.
The reference to the matter in an internal e-mail as the “UCI Muslim Case” shows a concern on the district attorney’s part not for justice but “for the perceived religion of our clients,” Daniel Mayfield, one of the attorneys representing the students, said at the news conference.
Prosecutors illegally convened a grand jury, illegally subpoenaed materials and illegally issued search warrants for materials to the grand jury, which finally resulted in an “immoral and illegal complaint,” he said.
Prosecutors said that search warrants can be used in certain misdemeanor cases.
“We’re not at all alarmed that they’re saying they’re going to file these motions. It’s typical in these cases and we’ll just litigate it. I don’t think they have stated any grounds at all that would lead to the suppression of the evidence (obtained),” Wagner said.