War protestor will be retried
Rosemarie Jackowski, 69, appealed her conviction for disorderly conduct at an anti-war protest at the Four Corners to the Supreme Court in September 2005. She was convicted by a Bennington District Court jury of intending to block traffic and annoy drivers while she stood in the middle of Bennington's busiest intersection. The one-day criminal trial was prosecuted by Bennington County State's Attorney William D. Wright and former Deputy State's Attorney Daniel McManus. District Court Judge David Suntag presided over the trial.
According to Wright, Jackowski will face another trial.
"At this juncture, we are going forward with the case. We think that the evidence was overwhelming in our view, and we think that the jury should have another opportunity to decide Ms. Jackowski's guilt or innocence," he said.
Wright will be leaving the office in January after 20 years when his former deputy, Erica Albin Marthage, of Manchester, takes over as the state's attorney following her election win last month.
Jackowski said she was surprised that the state would spend taxpayer money to retry her.
"That's fascinating. I had not heard that. I am kind of shocked and blown away by that. ... I guess he is just doing the job the way he sees it," she said.
Jackowski said she does not fear another trial, and said she will be more prepared the second time around.
"I'm very willing and ready to go trial again. It will be much more easy for me this time. I will have experience at being a defendant in a criminal trial," she said while laughing.
Jackowski's intent whether or not she meant to block traffic and cause an annoyance was the main focus of the jury trial. The state Supreme Court overturned the trial jury's verdict, ruling three to two in favor of Jackowski after the court found that Suntag had made mistakes during the trial, including taking away the jury's responsibility to decide Jackowski's true intent. According to the majority opinion, Suntag made a mistake by telling jurors that if they found Jackowski knew that she would block traffic during her protest, then she must have intended to block traffic.
Wright said in a retrial, the problems found by the Supreme Court would be easily avoided.
"The issue that the Supreme Court had is very easily cleared up with an amendment under the disorderly conduct statute. ... I don't think that there is much doubt about what the intent was. When you look at it under the definition of reckless, it's clear from the facts what was going on and what was intended to happen," he said.
Jackowski was arrested on March 20, 2003. During the demonstration, protesters, including Jackowski, blocked traffic at the intersection for about 15 minutes. Jackowski stood in the intersection praying and holding a sign bearing anti-war slogans and newspaper clippings. Police officers repeatedly asked Jackowski to leave the intersection and arrested her with 11 other people after they refused. The state charged them with disorderly conduct, alleging that Jackowski and the others obstructed traffic with the intent to cause public inconvenience and annoyance.
Jackowski is the only person arrested that sought a jury trial.
Finding a new lawyer might be difficult, said Jackowski. Her former attorney, Stephen Saltonstall, who argued her case in trial and before the Supreme Court, said he can no longer represent her because former prosecutor Daniel McManus has joined his law firm as a defense attorney. She said she would consider representing herself.
"I hope that someone will come forward to represent me. ... It's not a big concern or worry. I think the facts are so simple and straightforward that I would like to tell a jury about that day and what I did," she said.
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