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State of California v. Kevin Olliff

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Synopsis

Kevin Olliff is an animal rights activist who was arrested April 18, 2009 on three year-old protest charges and now faces 10 felony counts. These felonies are multiple counts of: stalking, conspiracy, conspiracy to stalk, and threatening of a public servant. He is currently being held in Los Angeles County Jail awaiting trial. His indictment accuses him of associating with the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) which the State labeled a "gang" in the indictment. In December 2009, CCR cooperating attorney Matthew Strugar joined with defense counsel to file a 995 Motion to Set Aside the Indictment, based in part on the theory that Olliff’s conduct was all protected by the First Amendment.. The judge has since ruled that case will go forward; however, he also ruled that the ALF does not meet the definition of a "gang."

Status

On January 26, 2010, at the pre-trial hearing, the judge ruled that ALF is not a "gang."

The trial is scheduled to begin on March 3, 2010.

Description

Kevin Olliff’s prosecution is in the line of other recent “Green Scare” cases where law enforcement target above-ground activists in an attempt to link them to illegal, underground activity. Much like the SHAC-7 and AETA-4, Olliff is indicted for incendiary speech activity—namely, chants at home demonstrations.

Like the AETA-4, Olliff’s case arises from the long-running campaign against primate research in the University of California system. The campaign has included a significant level of illegal activity aimed at UC researchers. Unknown individuals set a researcher’s porch on fire, ‘flooded’ another researcher’s house by putting a garden hose through a window, firebombed multiple cars, sent threatening anonymous emails, and left an unlit Molotov cocktail on a researcher’s porch. The Animal Liberation Front and other underground animal rights organizations claimed responsibility for most of these actions.

The indictment makes reference to many of these illegal actions, alleging they were undertaken by unnamed coconspirators, and alleges Olliff’s speech activity constitutes overt acts in furtherance of the activity. However, there is no evidence that Olliff participated in any of the illegal activity.

The indictment also sought a gang enhancement penalty, alleging the ALF is a criminal street gang and Olliff is a member. However, the judge ruled that ALF does not meet the definition of a "gang." Oliff would have faced approximately twenty years imprisonment if convicted on all charges with the gang enhancements.  Since the judge denied the applicability of the gang enhancements, Olliff now faces only four and 1.2 years.

Timeline

March 27, 2009
Kevin Olliff indicted on stalking charges.

December 9, 2009
CCR Files 995 Motion: Points and Authorities in Support of Motion to Set Aside the Indictment.

January 26, 2010
At the pre-trial hearing, the judge ruled that ALF is not a "gang."