Northampton’s Paki Wieland found guilty of disrupting Senate hearing

  • PAKI WIELAND PAKI WIELAND

@ecutts_HG
Published: 9/11/2017 6:27:38 PM

Northampton social activist Patricia “Paki” Wieland was found guilty Monday in District of Columbia Superior Court of disrupting a U.S. Senate hearing earlier this year.

“The letter of the law prevailed over the spirit of the law!” Wieland said in an email.

Wieland, 73, was arrested Feb. 1 at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting and charged with disorderly and disruptive conduct on U.S. Capitol grounds. She shouted “Shame! Shame! Shame!” after legislators voted to send the name of then-Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to the full Senate as their nominee for U.S. attorney general. While the vote had concluded, the meeting had not officially been adjorned.

“It was disappointing because I thought we had a very strong case but I guess it wasn’t strong enough,” Wieland said by phone Monday. “I thought we had a strong First Amendment case and evidently the judge didn’t agree.”

Judge Thomas J. Motley sentenced Wieland to six months probation with a suspended 15-day jail sentence. If she abides by the conditions of her probation and is not charged with a new crime during that time she will not be jailed. A condition of her probation is that she not disturb any proceedings of Congress or hearings, according to court records.

“I was appreciative of not going to jail because there are lots of things to keep doing outside,” she said.

The bench trial occurred over the span of two days. Wieland represented herself but had a consulting attorney, Mark Goldstone.

When asked if the conviction would change her behavior, Wieland said no.

“I think it’s really incumbent on us to keep speaking truth to power,” she said. “As long as we have people in office who are violating all of the rights of humanity, then I think it is incumbent on us to keep speaking out.”

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.


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