OPINION| Thomas: We the people are not smart enough?
What's going on with the judicial system? Long time New Bedford political advocate Evangelos Safioleas a/k/a "Gilly," now finds himself owing the courts $100. This after a judge found Gilly guilty of a civil infraction.
As the story goes, Safioleas applauded after a few statements at the local people's house. Just happens the clapping occurred during a very public meeting, a New Bedford City Council meeting, at New Bedford City Hall. The commotion was not appreciated by then Council President Linda Morad. She pleaded for Gilly to refrain from interrupting the official meeting. Soon after Mr. Safioleas was asked to leave, he was eventually ushered out of the government building with a police escort. Gilly was booked by NBPD. The charge--trespassing. This is what Gilly gets for appreciating councilor comments.
Safioleas had his day in court Thursday October 12. Instead of facing a criminal trespass, the charge was reduced to civil trespass. Upon presentment of evidence at trial, the judge gaveled guilty and ordered Safioleas to fork over $100.
We can argue the legal pros and cons of clapping at an official city council meeting. Intelligent people can agree to disagree, but if Gilly is correct regarding the type of trial and why, then we have a huge problem.
The original criminal trespass charge was diminished to a civil charge. Why? Plea bargain? Nada. Try a procedural move orchestrated by the District Attorney's office, paving the way for government accusers to try Safioleas with only hizzoner declaring guilty or not guilty. Safioleas lost his option for a trial by jury.
Again, I must point out if, if, if, if Gilly's accusation is correct, then the alarm bells should loudly blare. Safioleas claims the charges were downgraded for an unfair reason. according to Gilly, "The DA said that the jury is not smart enough to reach a decision because they don't know the law." That tropical storm gust better be you exhaling "WHAT?" We the people are not smart enough? How dare the DA's office. The prosecutor and city government are figuring nobody takes Safioleas seriously, we do some legal trickery, pull off an easy win and we're in and out in a day? Bada bing, bada boom!
That smarty pants Assistant DA thinks we're all from Hixville. Assuming again that Gilly is telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, the Assistant DA needs to be tarred, feathered, chastised then fired for his deplorable jury pool comment. The nerve of that government suit to look down upon we the people. The very citizens who volunteer our employment time to do our civic duty to the best of our ability deserve better. So does Mr. Safioleas. Talk about biting the hand that feeds!
Safioleas correctly claims it's the prosecution's job to let jurors know what the charge is, and present facts proving beyond a reasonable doubt that said law has been violated, by Mr. Safioleas. My gut aches this prosecutor couldn't get the desired shut out from a jury trial, so the state lowered the bar to a civil trespass complaint sealing Gilly's fate into a justice is blind judge. Game, set, match to the prosecution.
Sadly, it appears we have another case where imperfect operatives tarnish an otherwise impeccable system.
Editor’s Note: Brian Thomas is the host of Brian’s Beat on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10am-Noon and Saturdays from 6am-9am. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.