Peter Watts, struck and pepper-sprayed by authorities during a border-crossing incident on December 6, then charged with assaulting a police officer, went on trial March 16 in Michigan’s St. Clair County Circuit Court. (News reports quoted a Port Huron police spokesman calling the alleged assault victim a “customs officer,” however I’ve yet to find a source that answers my question whether this was a Port Huron police officer or a member of a US federal law enforcement agency.)
The blogger at Have Satellite Truck, Will Travel attended the first day of the trial. The morning was devoted to jury selection:
The repeating theme through the prosecution’s jury questions centered around border and airport security. Each prospective member was asked whether or not they crossed the Blue Water Bridge and or dealt with airport security and how that juror felt about the experience.
The defense’s repeating theme was asking anyone that crossed that bridge if they’ve ever been stopped by American officials on the American side of the line after they paid their toll. He asked most of the jurors one other thing that made sense to clarify their understanding of innocent until proven guilty. “With what you know about Mr. Watts right now would you vote not guilty?” All of them replied “yes.”
At this writing he hasn’t posted about afternoon, when the trial was expected to begin. There will be coverage by the Port Huron Times Herald as well, which so far has posted just a few lines about the morning.
Incidentally, St. Clair County court records show that when Watts was originally charged the prosecutor filed notice that he would seek “sentence enhancement” on grounds that Watts was allegedly a habitual offender:
The Michigan habitual offender statutes provide that individuals convicted of ‘a felony, an attempt to commit a felony, or both,’ who subsequently commit another felony, are subject to sentence enhancement.
However, I read the online records as saying the court granted a motion to quash this allegation in a preliminary hearing.
Watts reported earlier in the month there had also been a bench warrant issued by the judge for his arrest on March 5 when neither he nor his lawyer knew they were expected to appear in court, but the warrant has been withdrawn. It never ends, does it.