Refusing the D.A.'s Last-Minute Plea Offer in My Occupy Denver Trial

I was arrested in Lincoln Park near the Colorado State Capitol last October along with two dozen Occupy Denver protesters. On Monday, April 30th, I face five criminal charges stemming from that arrest in a jury trial (Facebook invite, everyone’s welcome!). Last night the District Attorney trying my case renewed a plea offer I have already refused twice (“deferred judgment to unlawful acts,” which is much less expensive than the supervised probation he will seek if I’m convicted).

So naturally I mustered as much sarcasm and 19th-century melodrama I could on such short notice and asked my attorney to relate the following as my response:

My attorney has related to me your renewed offer of unsupervised deferred judgment. As with the previous offers, I appreciate your generous consideration of my personal liberty and limited finances. I would, however, urge you to reconsider in light of the serious nature of my alleged crimes. Let us not forget I am being accused of sitting peacefully in a park, and of persisting in the same after being asked by a polite state trooper to leave. Letting the behavior of such offenders go with insufficient correction by the state portends utter chaos. Imagine, if you will, what would happen if the powerful homeless faction gained political power. What would the future hold for the profession, you tell me, of our police officers, who bravely contend with park-sitters with nothing more than riot gear and firearms, if anarchistic ideas of self-government go unchecked? For that matter, whither your own career? Such acts, as I am accused of performing, disregard not only law but the very notions of property rights on which our democracy and very civilization rests! I therefore encourage you to find confidence in the case you have prepared, to push from your mind any doubts that the state has acted unjustly or overcharged the accused, and persevere in seeking a conviction and appropriate punishment, not merely to fulfill your duties to the good people of Colorado, but for the sake of my own moral development that — if I am indeed convicted — I might learn from my transgressions.

As for me, I find the offer tempting, but I’ve already created the Facebook event for the trial and have friends and family who are planning on attending. Not merely my friends and family — but tax-paying citizens of Colorado: you’re their man! They depend on you to hold criminals responsible, to enforce the law, to ultimately protect their bodies and secure them in their possessions, and they are expecting a conviction. I will, for my part, not give the masses anything so disappointing as an empty gallows. And so it is with trepidation that I must refuse your gracious offer and place once again the success of this spectacle firmly in your capable hands.

With sincerity and best of luck,

chris burkhardt

— the ramblings of an immature cynic


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