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APSU mock trial explores boundaries of Constitutional Rights

A “Mock Trial” is being held in conjunction with the American Constitutional Law II class being taught by Dr. Greg Rabidoux in the Department of Political Science. This class deals with individual civil liberties including free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly. The trial will be held April 8, 10, 15, and 17, (Tuesdays and Thursdays) between 9:30-11:00 at the University Center, Room 308 and is open to the public. The verdict will be announced April 17th at the end of that day’s session.

The issues are on the Bill of Rights and implicate university free speech zones, university speech codes, and the USA Patriot Act powers and students’ rights of free assembly.

Students in the class are either on the prosecution, the defense, or the court. This semester’s Lead Counsels are Elizabeth Borsavage and Jeremy Smith for the prosecution, and Valerie Cerda and Chris Lowe for the defense. The Chief Justice is Enderson Miranda. Amber Gaulden and Beth Anne Warhurst from the Dramatic Arts Department are playing the role of the accused. Several other students from outside the class are portraying the FBI Agent (DJ Luciano) the Police Officer (Bethany McCaslin) with other students including Leslie Crouch, Julia Dittrich and Adam Haynes providing testimony.

The premise is that on or about March 7, 2008, several students were engaged in a campus protest within the “Free Speech Zone” here on campus. The protesters appeared to be chanting anti-war slogans and were heard to also chant “Death to Non-Believers.” Shortly into the protest/demonstration, an undercover FBI Agent along with a local uniformed police officer attempted to break-up the protest, asserting that it had not been approved by the university and they were violating free speech zone and speech codes.

What ensued was a confrontation between at least two of the student-protesters, alleged to be the leaders of a group called “Holy Land Avengers” and the authorities, which resulted in the arrests of both students on several charges including assault and battery and civil rights intimidation. Subsequent search warrants executed at the apartment of the two students resulted in evidence being seized including; weaponry, materials on terrorism and Dirty Bomb-Making as well as a weapon alleged to have been at the scene of the protest.

Amber Gaulden, a Dramatic Arts major, aka Alice O’Hare, leader of the protest group and one of the accused and DJ Luciano, aka, FBI Agent DiSalvo.

To the right, Beth Warhurst (dramatic arts student), aka, Bethany Christianson and Policewoman Bethany McCaslin, aka, Heather Brooke.

A plea arraignment was held recently where pleas Not Guilty to all charges were entered by the Defendant Alice O’Hare on behalf of her co-Defendant Bethany Christianson. Motions by both prosecution and defense have been heard by the court and a special tribunal of five judges.

If you have any questions or would like to take part in this trial please contact Dr. Rabidoux at rabidouxg@apsu.edu, or Kelly Maddox at kmaddox15@apmail.apsu.edu.

Debbie Boen
Debbie Boen
Debbie and her family moved to Clarksville slightly after the tornado of 1999. Debbie founded the group, Clarksville Freethinkers for Peace and Civil Liberties, in 2004. She participated in Gathering to Save Our Democracy, a group dedicated to obtaining free and verifiable elections in Tennessee. She has supported groups including the NAACP, Nashville Peace Coalition, PFLAG, Friends of Dunbar Cave and the Mountain Top Removal Series of Films and speakers. She participated as an artist in the ARTZ gallery group in Clarksville and won Best of Show, First and 2 Second Place awards for four of her sculptures. She won a voter's choice award for a performance at the Roxy Regional Theatre. She is a wife, mother and cancer survivor. She is always amazed at the capabilities of the human spirit, and the wisdom to find humor when there is none.

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