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Feds drop case against protester who laughed at Sessions

Feds drop case against protester who laughed at Sessions
Posted at 5:12 PM, Nov 07, 2017

The Justice Department has dropped its case against a woman who laughed out loud during the confirmation hearing for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, ending months of legal wrangling.

The woman, Desiree Fairooz, was protesting with Code Pink, a progressive group whose activists are regularly seen around Washington. She was arrested by a Capitol Police officer after audibly laughing during Sessions' confirmation hearing in January.

But prosecutors filed a "nolle prosequi," or notice that it would no longer pursue charges, with the DC Superior Court on Monday.

She had been prosecuted by the DC US Attorney's Office and had been convicted of a misdemeanor before a judge threw out the conviction in July and ordered a new trial. The government had decided to retry the case after Fairooz rejected a plea deal, and a trial date had been set for next week.

Fairooz tweeted the notice was a "relief" Monday night.

"Just received this, "Governments Notice of Nolle Prosequi" What a relief! Guess they've got enough "laughing" matters to deal with!" she tweeted.

The US Attorney's Office declined to explain what had changed.

"The US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia yesterday filed a notice dismissing the case involving Desiree Ali-Fairooz," said spokesman Bill Miller. "The US Attorney's Office typically does not discuss charging decisions, and has no comment on the decision to dismiss this particular case."

The original arrest happened after Fairooz laughed after Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby told senators at Sessions' confirmation hearing that his former colleague had a record of "treating all Americans equally under the law."

Her laughter lasted a few seconds and Shelby continued with his speech without acknowledging the disturbance.

Fairooz's attorney said in a statement his client is "relieved and happy" about the result.

"Yesterday the government dismissed the case for reasons I can only speculate about. And which I may never fully know (though I have various theories)," Samuel Bogash said in an email. "Though as her lawyer I would have preferred a 'not guilty' at the first trial, I'm happy for Ms. Fairooz."