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Judge Trims Charges Against Public Defender

September 28, 1989|DOUG SMITH | Times Staff Writer

A judge has dismissed two of three misdemeanor charges against a public defender who was arrested at a 1987 demonstration against a speech by an avowed racist outside the Glendale Holiday Inn.

On the third day of testimony in the trial of Deputy Public Defender John Michael Lee, 49, Glendale Municipal Judge Charles E. Horan dismissed charges of obstructing police work and unlawful assembly for lack of evidence.

Horan denied a motion by Lee's attorney, Hugh R. Manes, to dismiss the charge of failing to disperse. Lee's jury trial on that charge continued Wednesday.

Last week, Deputy Dist. Atty. Philip Heeger showed the jury several videotapes of the disturbances, which broke out at a November, 1987, rally protesting an appearance by white supremacist J. B. Stoner. After viewing the tapes, Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner decided to file charges against Lee and three other men.

One showed Lee shouting at police officers as he moved with a crowd moving west along Pioneer Drive near Pacific Avenue. Other segments showed fights between demonstrators and youths with shaven heads, identified as the neo-Nazi group the Skinheads.

A Glendale police officer testified that he ordered the protesters to disperse several times through a hand-held megaphone and that Lee was yelling almost hysterically.

In dismissing the charge of obstructing officers Monday, Horan said Lee could not be held responsible for the actions of others.

Prior to the trial, Manes told reporters that he intended to show that police officers arrested Lee because they did not like his anti-racist message. However, Horan placed a gag order on the trial, prohibiting attorneys and the defendant from discussing it publicly. In his opening statement, Manes made no mention of racial issues.

One of the other three defendants, Jewish Defense League leader Irv Rubin, pleaded no contest in July to failure to disperse and was fined $772 and sentenced to one year of probation. The other two men are scheduled to go on trial later this month.

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