iww.org May 8, 2010
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Superior Court Judge Joseph F. Rodgers Jr. Friday ordered a new trial for the woman accused of assaulting North Providence police officers during a protest in August 2007.
Rodgers ordered a new trial for Alexandra Svoboda on three counts of simple assault on the officers. Rodgers said he did not feel convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Svoboda had assaulted the officers by striking them with drumsticks during the protest, despite a jury's finding last week that she was guilty on all three counts.
Rodgers did, however, let stand the jury's verdict that 25-year-old Svoboda had resisted arrest while picketing Jacky's Galaxie on Mineral Spring Avenue that hot August day.
Then the union secretary of the Industrial Workers of the World, Svoboda and others were protesting because the restaurant had purchased rice and takeout containers from a New York supply company accused of mistreating its employees.
As the marchers walked up Mineral Spring toward the restaurant, the police directed them to the side of the road because they were obstructing traffic. A scuffle resulted. Authorities say Svoboda struck officers with a set of drumsticks; her leg was broken during the struggle.
Svoboda's friends and family, many of whom sat through the six-day trial, greeted the verdict with hugs and tears. She declined to discuss the case, but said, "I'm just happy that my friends and family are here with me to celebrate."
Terrence Livingston, who prosecuted the case for the state attorney general's office, said he would discuss with the North Providence police whether to appeal the ruling.
"Certainly we're disappointed, but that's the judge's right," he said.
Livingston is handling the case for the state to avoid a possible conflict of interest, because the attorney general's office reviewed allegations of excessive force by the North Providence police. Officers were cleared of wrongdoing in 2007, said Michael J. Healey, spokesman for the attorney general office.
Rodgers, who is handling cases in his retirement, ordered Svoboda to pay a $100 fine for resisting arrest.
All the counts against Svoboda, who is studying Spanish at the Community College of Rhode Island, are misdemeanors.