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Law Dean Called For Arrested Reporter’s Release

by Paul Bass | Sep 29, 2013 9:49 pm

(44) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Higher Ed, International, Legal Writes, Media

Intrepid Brazilian reporter Claudia Trevisan dealt with the authorities in North Korea. She dealt with state security while pursuing stories in China. None of that compared to dealing with cops on Yale campus when she came here to report a story—and ended up in handcuffs, then incarcerated in the police station pokey.

Trevisan, the U.S. correspondent for the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo, came to New Haven last Thursday to try to interview her country’s Supreme Court president, Minister Joaquim Barbosa. Barbosa was appearing at a private, hush-hush annual Yale Law School “Global Constitutionalism Seminar” featuring a host of leading international legal figures as well as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

A Yale police officer ordered her handcuffed and arrested after she had walked upstairs in Woolsey Hall to where Barbosa was participating in one of the seminar’s sessions.

“I had problems with the police” while serving as her paper’s China correspondent for five years, Trevisan said Sunday in a tear-filled interview with the Independent. “But never remotely like what happened to me at Yale.” Trevisan recently moved to Washington, D.C., to cover her paper’s American beat.

The arrest this weekend gained international attention and provoked outrage.

It also apparently led Yale Law School Dean Robert Post to ask police to release her and have charges against her dropped as soon as he learned of the incident, according to a statement released Sunday night by the university.

That statement—the second issued in two days by Yale—and the interview with Trevisan provided new details about the incident, with Yale defending its police’s actions and calling the handcuffing of the reporter “standard procedure.” (Update: The Brazilian consular general blasted the arrest Monday, in an interview Monday. Read about that here.)

A New Assignment

Trevisan originally planned to cover the ongoing debates at the United Nations last Thursday involving the U.S. and Iran. Then her editor from Brazil contacted her. He had learned that Minister Barbosa would be speaking at the Yale conference. He asked Trevisan to travel to New Haven to interview him.

Barbosa has been at the center of an ongoing scandal in Brazil over corruption involving government officials and other prominent figures. He has taken a leading role in trying to clean up the courts; read about that here.

He wasn’t the only high-security figure involved in the Yale event. Besides Breyer, other guests included a former president of Colombia’s Constitutional Court, the first-ever Jewish woman to sit on Canada’s Supreme Court, the third-ever female judge on Italy’s Constitutional Court. But Barbosa was enough of a security concern that Yale didn’t include his name in any materials about the event, including the program. In fact, the program schedule didn’t even mention Barbosa’s session. (Read the program here.) Yale didn’t publicize the event at all. Yale law students and professors did receive a Sept. 5 email informing them of the three-day seminar, with a partial schedule of events they could attend. (That schedule also omitted the event with Barbosa.)

Trevisan hopped a train to New Haven. She contacted Yale Law School press officer Jan Conroy, who informed her the event was closed to the press and she could not cover it. (Both she and Yale agree on that fact.)

“I told her, ‘He’s a public person. His salary is paid by the state. I thought we had all the right to know where he is and what he has done,” Trevisan said. She said that she’d stand out on the sidewalk to catch him if necessary.

After the conversation, she emailed Conroy a follow-up message.

“Believe me, I would rather not stand on the sidewalk of Yale, my newspaper in Brazil really wants me to do this. As I mention, minister Joaquim Barbosa e a public figure in Brazil and has just participated in the most important corruption that ever reached our Supreme Court,” she wrote to Conroy. “I would appreciate if the organizers of the event could let him know that I will be there and would like very much to talk with him. I have been a journalist for 28 years, was correspondent in Buenos Aires, New York and China, before coming to Washington. And I have studied Law at University of São Paulo.

“Thank you for any help you can give me.”

“Thank you, Claudia. I am forwarding this to the conference organizer right now,” Conroy emailed back.

Meanwhile, Trevisan called the personal cell phone number of Minister Barbosa himself. (She said the newspaper had his number.) She said she reached him. (No one answered calls the Independent placed to Barbosa’s cell phone Sunday evening.)

“He was very polite. I said, ‘Minister, I’m on the train on my way to Yale’” Trevisan recalled. “He said, ‘I don’t want to talk. It’s not your time to talk.’”

“I respect your decision. I need to be there anyway. I will be outside in case you change your mind,” Trevisan said she told him.

She had no intention of returning to New York. She had an assignment to complete.

“I had no intention to attend the seminar itself. I knew I was not welcomed. But I needed to make sure to know on which sidewalk to wait.”

Criminal Reporting

She went hunting for that sidewalk upon her arrival around 3:30 Thursday afternoon in New Haven. She went to Yale Law’s main Wall Street building. The security guard let her in, didn’t ask for ID, Trevisan said. She hunted around the building, learned the event wasn’t taking place there.

She consulted the three-day conference schedule her editor had sent her. It didn’t list Barbosa’s event. But it did list an alternative location for one of Saturday’s planned events: Woolsey Hall. So she went there to check it out.

She entered the rotunda, then started climbing the stairs. She ran into a Yale cop.

“Is the global seminar held here?” she said she asked him.

She said he asked who she was and what she wanted. She showed the officer her passport. She didn’t identify herself as a reporter. Yale’s statement said she identified herself as “a friend” of Barbosa. She said she told the officer she knew Barbosa and wanted “to talk to him.”

“That was a mistake,” Trevisan acknowledged in the interview, about her decision not to identify herself immediately as a reporter. “But not [something] to be arrested for.”

She never tried to enter the seminar room itself, she said. Nor did she argue with the officer about her right to be there, she said; nor did she disobey any commands at that point to leave. Yale’s two statements do not suggest otherwise.

It turned out the officer already knew about Trevisan, about how she told the law school she was a reporter coming to the event determined to interview Barbosa. The officer asked her to leave. She complied, she said; he escorted her out of the building.

As they walked out the door, she asked for her passport back. The officer refused to return it.

At that point, Trevisan acknowledged, “I lost my temper.”

“You cannot do that,” she told the officer.

“I can,” she said he responded. “We know who you are. You are a reporter. We have your picture. You were told several times not to come here.”

She said she had been told once that she could not cover the event.

“You are going to be arrested for criminal trespassing,” the officer informed her. He called for two policewomen to come to the scene. Trevisan called the Brazilian embassy.

The officer in charge then handcuffed her and and kept her at the scene for about an hour, she said. She said he refused to allow her to make any more phone calls. She was taken to 1 Union Ave., the police lock-up, charged with first-degree criminal trespass, fingerprinted, and kept behind bars until 9:20 p.m. before being released on a promise to appear in court this coming Friday.

”I was searched and put in a cell, with a metal bed and a toilet, visible from the outside. At the other cells, women screamed and banged the walls. When I had to pee, I had to do so with male guards walking on the corridor. Although it was a female section, the security is made by men,” Trevisan later wrote in a blog post about the incident.

“As far as I know, being a journalist is not a crime under America law.”

“Standard Procedure”

But entering private property without permission is a violation of the law, technically. One for which Yale chose to arrest her.

Yale defended that decision in two official statements this weekend. The second was released Sunday night after requests for more details in response to Trevisan’s version—and to questions about why it was necessary to arrest her and handcuff her rather than merely escort her from Woolsey Hall.

“Ms. Trevisan sought to gain entry to the private gathering by misrepresenting herself to the Yale Police officer who was providing security at the event, claiming to be ‘‘looking for a friend,’” the statement read. “The event was being held in a private room in a university building outside the law school. Although the first floor of this building is generally accessible to the public, this event was taking place on the second floor in a private room. Staff who were present identified Ms. Trevisan as having previously been informed of the private nature of the event. 

“Because of her attempts to enter the private meeting and because she misrepresented her intentions to a police officer, Ms. Trevisan was escorted from the building and arrested for trespassing.

“As a matter of standard procedure, she was handcuffed.”

Another Brazilian reporter sought to cover the event, as well, according to the Yale statement. “He agreed respectfully to wait on public property to interview those participants who wished to speak to the press.”

The Yale statement suggested that not everyone on campus necessarily agreed with the arrest.

“When Yale Law School Dean Robert Post was informed that an arrest had taken place, he immediately requested that Ms. Trevisan be released and that the charges be dropped,” according to the statement. It didn’t elaborate. Reached Sunday night, Post also declined to be quoted further on the matter.


An earlier version of this story follows:

Yale plans to seek having charges dropped against a Brazilian reporter its police arrested for trying to cover a campus event featuring her country’s Supreme Court president.

Yale police arrested the reporter, Claudia Trevisan (pictured), on a first-degree criminal trespass charge Thursday at Woolsey Hall.

She committed a crime reporters commit every day: Walking through buildings trying to find out where hush-hush events are taking place and then trying to catch a public figure on the way in or out.

Yale said in a statement that it did not “mistreat” Trevisan “in any way.”

The president of Brazil’s Supreme Court, Joaquim Barbosa, was on campus for a private Yale Law School event, a “Global Constitutionalism Seminar.” The school did not publicize the event. Barbosa has received international attention for taking on corruption in his nation’s legal system.

Trevisan, a U.S.-based correspondent for Brazil’s O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper, caught wind of the event. She contacted Yale law’s public relations office, which informed her she could not cover it, she wrote in this blog post.

Here’s what she said happened next:

She was able to enter the law school’s main Wall Street building around 3:30 p.m. and look around for the event. It wasn’t there. She followed a trail to Woolsey Hall. She went inside.

A Yale cop stopped her and questioned her. She did not identify herself as a reporter; she said she was looking for Barbosa to speak with him and was planning to wait outside for him.

The officer asked her for her passport. He escorted her outside. She asked for her passport back. He refused to give it. She objected.

“Yes, I can. We know who you are, you are a reporter. We have your picture and you were told several times that you could not be here,” the officer said next, according to Trevisan.

“You were told several times not to be here,” she said he told her. She denied it. She quoted him as saying next: “That is what happens when there is high profile people involved.”

Officers handcuffed her and arrested her on the trespassing charge. They brought her to lock-up at police headquarters.

Here’s her description of her time in lock-up: ” I was searched and put on a cell, with a metal bed and a toilet, visible from the outside. At the other cells, women screamed and banged the walls. When I had to pee, I had to do so with male guards walking on the corridor. Although it was a female section, the security is made by men.”

Police released her hours later on a promise to appear in court, this coming Friday.

Yale police denied doing anything wrong. They said the reporter was repeatedly informed she could not attend the event.

Yale said in a statement this weekend that it plans to ask the state to drop the charges.

Here’s the statement the school released:

“Before she came to the Yale campus on September 26 to attempt to interview Justice Barbosa, Ms Claudia Trevisan was told that the Global Constitutionalism Seminar attended by Justice Barbosa was a private event closed to the public and the media, and that she was not permitted on Yale property.

“She came onto Yale property, entered the law school without permission, and proceeded to enter another building where the attendees of the seminar were meeting. When asked why she was in the building, she stated that she was looking for a friend she was supposed to meet. She was arrested for trespassing. The police followed normal procedures and Ms Trevisan was not mistreated in any way.

“Although the arrest for trespass was justified, the university does not plan to pursue the charge with the local prosecutor. The law school and Yale University accommodate hundreds of journalists in the course of a year at public campus events and for interviews with members of the Yale community and visitors. As with all journalists, Ms Trevisan is welcome to attend any public event at Yale and speak with anyone who wishes to grant her an interview.”

The Guardian newspaper of London
reported that Trevisan came to the U.S. after years reporting in China. It quoted Trevisan as saying: “I was in China for five years and never in China did something like this happen to me.”

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posted by: darnell on September 29, 2013  11:27am

This is the institution to whom we hand over streets for practically nothing. How about that promise that those streets will forever be accessed freely by everyone, anyone taking bets on how long that lasts? Arresting a reporter for wanting to peacefully cover an event on a phony trespassing charge, where a ticket would have been sufficient. This shows the bullying tactics they use on a daily basis. Where are the Yale union sponsored Aldermen on this issue? Where is the outrage? Thsi lady spent hours in lockup for nothing!!!!!

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on September 29, 2013  11:28am

If “not permitted on Yale property” is going to be a crime, should the city really be selling two streets to Yale?

posted by: Anderson Scooper on September 29, 2013  1:11pm

I am embarrassed by Yale. This woman works for Brazil’s fifth largest newspaper and somehow she was cuffed and detained for five and a half hours?

Even if she was out of line, (and from what I’ve read I’m doubtful that she was), was that the way to handle it? One would like to believe that handcuffing and jailing a reporter would be at the bottom of the list of ways to manage unwanted press.

Here’s hoping that Yale’s students will demand a full investigation and accounting of this sad incident. Wrong or not, Ms. Trevisan should not have been treated like a criminal.

posted by: Walt on September 29, 2013  4:14pm

Normally we’d expect the Yale law folks to be ranting against everyone re freedom of the press in a situation like this.’

Apparently when Yale Law School itself gets in a tizzy,  the Constitution does not apply, as they see it,.

posted by: robn on September 29, 2013  11:05pm

The real question is ‘is Yale entitled to have private academic events with invited public figures?” If not, when do those public figures get an opportunity to have candid discussions with their peers? All for freedom of press but just saying, Ms Trevisan was given clear warning that she wasn’t invited.

posted by: ElmCityVoice on September 30, 2013  7:37am

Robn—It can also be said that the American people are not invited into the hallowed halls of Congress while some of our esteemed 1% make the decision that closing the government is more important than allowing us little people to have the health care. No, it’s NOT okay to close off Yale from the community. We’ve had “clear warnings” not to fight for our democratic rights for a long time. Let’s hope we teach our children to be as tenacious and brave as Ms. Tevisan. She’s my hero of this week. I’m hoping some fringe Tea Party fanatics take their meds and become my hero of mid-week.

posted by: wendy1 on September 30, 2013  8:09am

This story is very ugly.  Another example of a Corporation that acts the government, an oligarchy.  By the way, few people here know poorly paid “Yale police” do the arresting but the city police that Yale doesn’t pay for do the rest of the work and run the jail.

At least the law school dean did the right thing and I hope he paid for her hotel room.  Now she just has to put up with crappy train service.

posted by: robn on September 30, 2013  8:42am

ECV,

Congressional sessions open to visitors whenever in session. You can ask your senator or representative for a visitor pass.

Yale is a private educational institution. I don’t think this reporter should have been cuffed and stuffed but I don’t think it was unreasonable to exclude her from a private seminar. Students are entitled to be educated without interference.

posted by: kenneth_krayeske on September 30, 2013  9:08am

To Claudia Trevisan,

Eu sinto muito. I am so sorry. Please accept the heart felt apology of the majority of the American people. We do not want to live in this totalitarian state, but it has been thrust upon us. For our American brothers and sisters who are too scared to act to prevent such inhospitality, we also apologize.

I’d love to say I’m surprised by this arrest, but I’m not. I was followed by the mukhabarat in Syria for two weeks, even though I had a journalist’s visa to be in Damascus and Aleppo and Dier Ezzor in 2005. Al-Assad’s henchmen did not arrest me.

I was cornered by police in Morocco in 1999 photographing a May Day parade, but they let me walk.

It was here in Hartford, CT, where I was photographing Gov. Rell’s inaugural parade in 2007 that I was surrounded by six cops and spent 13 hours in jail. Lying police officers who wrote fictional arrest reports have never even been reprimanded. I have spent almost seven years and untold thousands of my own dollars trying to vindicate our Constitutional rights, only to be told by Connecticut’s Attorney General, George Jepsen: “Get over it.”

Sadly, this is the state of affairs in America, 2013.  For this, Ms. Trevisan, we beg your forgiveness.

Regards,
Ken Krayeske

posted by: wendy1 on September 30, 2013  9:32am

I suggest people read A Dream Deferred by Philip Slater

Read today’s hilarious Yale Daily News, a perfect protest piece.  I took 5 and am passing them out to my old friends by snailmail.

If there is going to be demo, I want to be there so NHI please inform us of one.

posted by: jimjoebob on September 30, 2013  9:34am

@robn: According to Ms Trevisan, she was not trying to get into the seminar. She was trying to find out where it was, so that she could buttonhole the judge on his way out.

posted by: Noteworthy on September 30, 2013  10:03am

Keystone Cops and Bad Decision Notes:

1. Yale’s decision to have this journalist arrested is as utterly despicable as it is stupid.

2. The top level cop who ordered her arrest should be identified instead of hiding behind the skirts of “Yale” and “Yale police.” Who made this decision?

3. Yale and it’s Medusa like entities is the beneficiary and has been for decades, of copious amounts of public funds. It should be and should have been vastly more sensitive to the role of journalists especially from countries that have been fighting corruption at much deeper levels than what’s found in Corrupticut. Then again, a university that has a hard time with the definitions of rape and sexual assault may not be up to the task.

4. Given the law school’s history of representing the wrongfully imprisoned, it should assign some students to sue the school.

5. Among the reasons for being arrested - she lied to the cops. Does Yale really want to get into using a zero tolerance scale of justice on lies? I can think of a lawsuit or two and perhaps more, where it was demonstrably shown the university directly lied or at very least, shaded the truth to its benefit. In one medical case, it was at great detriment to a patient.

6. To those aldermen and others who say the university will never shut down the streets it now owns for pennies on the dollar, think again, and the consequences of choosing to walk down them anyway.

posted by: TreHillVille on September 30, 2013  10:18am

What’s the big deal? Trevisan had prior knowledge that the event was private and closed to the press. Instead of waiting on the sidewalk like she said she would, she entered private property and lied to police when they questioned her. If she was acting in her official capacity as a reporter and identified herself as such, she would not have been arrested. She chose to lie and enter a room with a U.S. Supreme Court Justice and create a major security breach.

If the average American citizen did what Trevisan did they would have been arrested. Being a reporter does not give you the right to break the law. Being an international reporter definitely doesn’t.

I’m glad Yale Police finally arrested someone for committing a real crime instead of constantly harassing minorities that travel through it’s open campus

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on September 30, 2013  10:36am

re: kenneth_krayeske. Don’t apologize on my behalf, and don’t beg forgiveness either. She was wrong. She was asked not to attend and decided to thumb her nose at the rules. She was rightly arrested.

posted by: jimjoebob on September 30, 2013  11:11am

@robn, NewHavenTaxTooHigh, & TreHillVille: why do you choose to entirely believe Yale’s version of events, and entirely discount Trevisan’s?

I think we can all agree that Yale is within its rights to remove a snooping journalist from its property, but trespassing while attempting to interview a public figure is not the same as trespassing, for, say, the purposes of theft or violence, and should be treated differently. Throwing a trespassing journalist into the pokey overnight is an overreaction.

If Yale was 100% in the right here, as the three of you are claiming, then why did Dean Post intervene on her behalf? As Ms Trevisan points out, even the governments of China and Syria have in the past been wise enough to realize that overreacting to the aggressive tactics of a foreign journalist is unwise.

It’s all about proportionality—escort her out of the building, and if the judge really doesn’t want to talk to her, escort him out of a back entrance. That way, the privilege of the ruling class to only engage the “free” press on their own terms is preserved, and the PR damage to Yale is minimized.

posted by: jim1 on September 30, 2013  11:30am

Will there be any type of protest for her at Yale?  She might need our help.

posted by: poetbum on September 30, 2013  11:58am

The campus police had the right to escort her out of the building, though it would have been better to just let a free press be free.

But throwing her in jail?  This is the sort of thing I would expect of Yale’s new Singapore branch, not the New Haven one.  Appalling.

posted by: robn on September 30, 2013  12:00pm

JJB,

I’m not reading any contradictory description of events, just a contradictory opinion of who’s right or wrong. I agree that the arrest was heavy handed and undiplomatic and that an escort out would have been appropriate but that doesn’t make Ms. Trevisan’s actions ethical or legal. The cops were within policy to arrest a pre-warned trespasser who, when encountered tried to falsify her intentions.

posted by: GMHKav on September 30, 2013  12:36pm

She lied, she didn’t follow the established procedure, and she was hoping that her deviousness would get her a scoop. Had she been a person who for whatever reason had a mindset to do harm to one of the conference participants and the Yale security had not acted as they did imagine the outcry then. Reporters have no special dispensation from the rules. You got busted, quit whining and deal with it.

posted by: jimjoebob on September 30, 2013  1:01pm

@GMHKav: you’re overlooking the fact that the arresting officer indicated that he knew very well who she was and what she was up to. There’s no indication that anyone suspected that she “had a mindset to do harm”. Since they knew she was a journalist and not an assassin, why not treat her like the former rather than the latter? Again, it’s about proportionality: a trespassing, dissembling journalist deserves some kind of sanction, but confiscating her passport and throwing her in jail is going too far.

posted by: robn on September 30, 2013  1:15pm

Don’t know why this event so quickly split into two stories but since the other is being ignored I’ll repeat myself.

The Society of Professional Journalists ethics handbook notes that deception should only be used when all other means have been exhausted.

Ms. Trevisan wasn’t investigating a grave and present danger like a potential nuclear reactor meltdown, she was just trying to gain access to a public official.

Ms. Trevisan trespassed and then lied to the police. Sorry newsies; the collar was heavy handed but not wrong.

posted by: jimjoebob on September 30, 2013  2:35pm

@robn: “the collar was heavy handed but not wrong.”

Well, yes—unless, of course, you consider police heavy-handedness to be wrong, especially when applied to journalists.

posted by: Webblog1 on September 30, 2013  2:58pm

Ms.Trevisan was properly warned and properly dealt with:

Sec. 53a-107. Criminal trespass in the first degree: Class A misdemeanor. (a) A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the first degree when: (1) Knowing that such person is not licensed or privileged to do so, such person enters or remains in a building or any other premises after an order to leave or not to enter personally communicated to such person by the owner of the premises or other authorized person; or (2) such person enters or remains in a building or any other premises in violation of a restraining order issued pursuant to section 46b-15 or a protective order issued pursuant to section 46b-38c, 54-1k or 54-82r by the Superior Court; or (3) such person enters or remains in a building or any other premises in violation of a foreign order of protection, as defined in section 46b-15a, that has been issued against such person in a case involving the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against another person; or (4) knowing that such person is not licensed or privileged to do so, such person enters or remains on public land after an order to leave or not to enter personally communicated to such person by an authorized official of the state or a municipality, as the case may be.

To suggest that it would not happen to an american in Brazil…We would most probably not even hear about it….

My surprise is that with all the current threats supported by all the current violence, she is let off the hook so easily.

posted by: robn on September 30, 2013  4:17pm

JJB,

In this case what I mean by “heavy handed” is undiplomatic. As was mentioned arresting someone with handcuffs is what’s done for criminal trespass.

I’d probably feel differently if Ms. Trevisan wasn’t told beforehand that she wasn’t allowed access to the seminar. She blew it off and then had the balls to lie to the cops. As someone lese mentioned, another journalist sought the same goal legally, waiting outside.

posted by: kenneth_krayeske on September 30, 2013  5:02pm

Okay, weblog1 suggests if this happened to an American in Brazil, we would not hear of it. Glenn Greenwald lives in Brazil, and we know he enjoys real freedom of the press there. It is unlikely Mr. Greenwald will come back to the United States any time soon. Sadly, he seems persona non grata in his own country for his reporting efforts. So is it surprising that Ms. Trevisan is treated so badly? No.

I would also note that it seems even more insidious that a known journalist is targeted with flyers and police know her on site because they have been so warned. To conflate her with a violent threat is wrong. But, as ct cops are known to do, when confronted by a zealous press, they respond with oppression.

What saddens me most is the conditioning commenters display in accepting such jack booted thuggery. Brazil is aghast, and certain New Haveners wag their fingers and consider this arrest an appropriate use of police force. How far this liberty loving country has fallen, so fast. It’s worse than MacBeth, because we have become our own tyrants.

And to NewHavenTaxTooHigh, our reliance on the monopoly of police violence to solve all of our problems stemming from questioning of authority is misplaced. If you note, I apologized from most Americans, you fit into the exception. This was not a rightful arrest of a journalist, if there can ever be such a thing.

posted by: jimjoebob on September 30, 2013  5:34pm

You know what, “robn” et al? I think I’m coming around to your way of thinking.  Any lawbreaking must be met with the maximum penalty immediately. Whatever the police are legally entitled to do, they *should* do. If we allow criminals like Ms Trevisan to commit heinous acts like Trespassing With Intent To Commit Journalism without immediately jailing them and prosecuting them to the full extent of the law, who knows what anarchy might follow?

posted by: robn on September 30, 2013  9:54pm

JJB

But we’re not discussing the “maximum penalty” which would have been charges, court, fines and who knows , possibly real jail time. What were discussing is the typical police reaction to such offense, that is commonly arrest.

posted by: jimjoebob on October 1, 2013  7:21am

The typical police reaction to a trespassing journalist is, in fact, *not* immediate arrest, handcuffing, confiscation of passport, being left to stew in a squad car for an hour, and then being turned over to the city cops for a night in jail. Not in an enlightened democracy, at least.

The fact that she misrepresented herself to the officer is a red herring—they already knew who she was and what she wanted. There’s no suggestion that they feared she might physically harm anyone, which would be the only possible justification for her subsequent treatment.

posted by: robn on October 1, 2013  9:48am

JJB,

Whether or not she was know to the police doesn’t change that (besides trespass) she intended to lie. It’s the intent that’s problematic because it’s a basic characteristic of a crime showing that the perpetrator could foresee consequences.

posted by: jimjoebob on October 1, 2013  12:01pm

True enough. But no matter how many rules, laws, regulations, and codes of journalistic ethics she broke, it still doesn’t change the fact the everyone agrees that her only intent was to interview this judge. A proportionate response would have been to eject her from Woolsey Hall and complain to her employer. A proportionate *and* First-Amendment-friendly response would have been to escort her to the sidewalk, and also ask the judge if he was willing to meet with her.

BTW, the judge in question has since issued a statement claiming that he was completely unaware of her presence, and deploring the police response: http://www.em.com.br/app/noticia/politica/2013/09/29/interna_politica,454386/barbosa-lamenta-prisao-de-jornalista-de-o-estado.shtml.

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on October 1, 2013  12:04pm

I’m no lawyer, so feel free to correct me, but I was unable to find any Connecticut law that says lying to a police officer is a crime.  Lying under oath in court, sure.  For a lie to fall under Connecticut General Statutes 53a-157b, it has to be in writing.

posted by: robn on October 1, 2013  12:32pm

JTP,

What you’re looking for is the following:

Sec. 53a-167a.
Interfering with an officer: Class A misdemeanor.
(a) A person is guilty of interfering with an officer when such person obstructs, resists, hinders or endangers any peace officer….

posted by: GMHKav on October 1, 2013  12:51pm

Folks, I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of people breaking the rules and then wanting to be excused because of some “special circumstance”. Obviously this reporter wasn’t going to harm anyone at Woosley Hall, but why should any security person have to make any judgement about someone’s intent, other than you broke the rule and now I have to do my job (arrest, handcuff, etc.)Let the lawyers/advocates/courts figure it out after the fact. That is not security’s job. We have had one to many instances where individual had clearance, the appropriate identification and then went on to act in harmful ways. This reporter lied and trespassed with full knowledge of her actions. Take the consequence and the responsibility of your actions.

posted by: Webblog1 on October 1, 2013  1:22pm

@ Jill_the_Pill on October 1, 2013 12:04pm

While technically lying without oath may not be a penal code violation, the officer was within his right if he had cited Ms.Trevisan in violation of:

Sec. 53a-167a. Interfering with an officer: Class A misdemeanor. (a) A person is guilty of interfering with an officer when such person obstructs, resists, hinders or endangers any peace officer, special policeman appointed under section 29-18b, motor vehicle inspector designated under section 14-8 and certified pursuant to section 7-294d or firefighter in the performance of such peace officer’s, special policeman’s, motor vehicle inspector’s or firefighter’s duties.

    (b) Interfering with an officer is a class A misdemeanor.


@kenneth_krayeske on September 30, 2013 5:02pm

What saddens me most is the conditioning commenter’s display in accepting such jack booted thuggery.

“Jack booted thuggery”

People all over this city from Fair Haven, Dixwell, Hill, Dwight, Newhallville, and the Annex are daily “Jacked” for far less statutory violations, and are not let off the “hook” by simply appearing in a court room.

You are on more solid ground sticking to the subject of Democracy Funding.

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on October 1, 2013  4:04pm

Is lying to a private security guard quite the same thing as obstructing or resisting the police (section 29 is specifically about the state police)? 

I get nervous when folks start to thump the table and get righteous about The Rules.  Rules and laws aren’t set in stone; if they are stupid, unfair or oppressive, we can change them. 

Robn’s question, “is Yale entitled to have private academic events with invited public figures?” is a good one.  Since Yale receives a lot of public funds, one could make an argument that they are not so entitled.  It’s at least open to debate, rather than just The Rules.

posted by: jimjoebob on October 1, 2013  4:37pm

@GMHKav: Exactly! I’m really tired of things like Wall Street investment bankers lobbying for deregulation, foolishly and greedily creating financial crises, and never facing any consequences ... police unnecessarily arresting people and then justifying their abuse of authority on “thin blue line” grounds ... and powerful, hyper-wealthy institutions like Yale fumbling their response to an intrusive journalist and then grandly hand-waving away their own incompetence with “we totally could have prosecuted her, but we shall allow her to go free.”

Is that the kind of “breaking the rules” you were talking about? Or, wait—were you talking about how poor and powerless people are always breaking rules, and how the rich and powerful and constantly having to keep them in line?

posted by: Webblog1 on October 1, 2013  4:55pm

Jill the pill:

This was not a security officer…

“She entered the rotunda, then started climbing the stairs. She ran into a Yale cop.

“Is the global seminar held here?” she said she asked him.

She said he asked who she was and what she wanted. She showed the officer her passport. She didn’t identify herself as a reporter. Yale’s statement said she identified herself as “a friend” of Barbosa. She said she told the officer she knew Barbosa and wanted “to talk to him.”

And…

“I get nervous when folks start to thump the table and get righteous about The Rules.  Rules and laws aren’t set in stone; if they are stupid, unfair or oppressive, we can change them”.

The statue, Sec. 53a-167a. Interfering with an officer: Class A misdemeanor, is set in stone and you cannot change it.. So Chill.

posted by: robn on October 1, 2013  5:21pm

JJB,

I’ll run with your argument. Since we’re a nation of laws “for the people and by the people” shouldn’t we work towards legal compliance by everyone instead of less compliance by the downtrodden excused because the rich get away with murder?

posted by: kenneth_krayeske on October 1, 2013  5:37pm

Weblog1 -

It is jack booted thuggery when police officers arrest journalists. Reporters Without Borders ranked the United States the 47th best country in its annual global Press Freedom Index.  Previously, Brazil was ahead of the US, but fell behind because of three journalist deaths. El Salvador, Costa Rica, Niger and Mali all placed ahead of the United States for press freedom. So, no, I don’t think it is a stretch to call reliance on state monopolies of violence to repress the free flow of information “jack booted thuggery.” 

Yes, there is no doubt that police overreach and brutality in a racially biased criminal justice system impacts New Haveners far more than this one reporter. Your pointing this out is appreciated, though not necessarily salient to the discussion of free speech retaliation.

However, you are to be commended for recognizing the imbalances in the system, and I trust you are doing your part to eliminate the new Jim Crow.

I would note that my work with the Democracy Fund is largely independent of my work as a journalist, and even in spite of my history as a journalist.

Regards,
KJK

posted by: GMHKav on October 1, 2013  6:13pm

JimJoeBob: This reporter was poor and powerless..? - I doubt it. She was looking to get a story without following proper procedure. Anyone who cheats, lies, sneaks, etc. and generally looks to promote themselves by doing so should when caught take their medicine. The world is about rules. When we start easing our way around these we invite trouble. I have nothing against the rich or the poor - I try not to make a distinction - people are people, and when we do something illegal we need to be called out on it. Seems fairly simple to me.

posted by: jimjoebob on October 1, 2013  7:07pm

@robn: In theory, sure. In practice, achieving any progress towards that laudable goal has been rather rare in human history.

As I believe this very case amply demonstrates, those who trespass against the powerful can expect to see the inside of a jail cell; the powerful who trespass against the rest of us can expect to see the inside of well-appointed office suites and dining rooms, with guards (paid from both public and private purses) keeping the riffraff at bay.

It seems a little unfair, therefore, to begin the project of zero-tolerance, class- and power-blind application of the law by jailing journalists.

posted by: jimjoebob on October 1, 2013  7:11pm

@ GMHKav: “Anyone who cheats, lies, sneaks, etc. and generally looks to promote themselves by doing so should when caught take their medicine.”

I eagerly await the application of this principle to politicians and business leaders.

Until that happy day dawns, let’s try to avoid throwing journalists in jail if at all possible. Jail cells, ideally, are there to protect the rest of us from those who would hurt or rob us, not to protect prominent jurists from being cajoled into providing quotes for newspaper articles.

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on October 1, 2013  7:47pm

Oh come on, Webblog1. Laws are changed all the time.  What do you think all those legislators in Hartford do?  If there was public demand to carve out an exception in the law for journalists, or to make explicit whether lying is the same as obstructing, or to gain more equity in enforcement across the neighborhoods and economic classes, it could be done. 

As for Yale police being police or private security, I guess they have a kind of fuzzy status.  Yale pays them and they have no policing obligations to the city, so that sounds like private security to me.  If Yale actually relies on the services of the real public police, that makes Yale look more like a public institution that shouldn’t be barring the public from its functions.

posted by: alphabravocharlie on October 2, 2013  1:46pm

The problem is all you people base your opinions of this incident on “facts” reported by reporters. Think they might be a little biased?

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