A judge granted the motion to release two of the three "Northwest Grand Jury Resisters" this afternoon
The news broke yesterday afternoon that two of the Grand Jury Resisters, Katherine Olejnik and Matthew Duran, would be released today at 4 p.m.
A public hearing for the motion was scheduled to be heard this morning at 9 a.m. by Judge Richard A. Jones. However, the judge decided to grant release without a hearing.
Olejnik and Duran were detained for five months after refusing to testify to a Northwest Grand Jury regarding last year's Mayday riots in Seattle.
In the released ruling, Judge Jones acknowledged that "the purpose of confinement following a finding of civil contempt is to coerce the witness's testimony," citing the case "Shillitani v. United States" as the legal precedent.
The judge said those found in contempt of court can be detained up to 18 months to coerce them to testify.
Judge Jones stated in his ruling:
Due process also demands, however, that the court end confinement where it is substantially likely that the witness's confinement is no longer coercive. Confinement without the possibility of testimony is purely punitive, and falls within the realm of criminal law.
It was precisely Olejnik and Duran's defiance and continued refusal to testify that justified their release in the judge's mind.
Judge Jones continued:
Both Ms. Olejnik and Mr. Duran have provided extensive declarations explaining that although they wish to end their confinement, they will never end their confinement by testifying. The court finds their declarations persuasive.
He went on to say that "for these witnesses, however, their resolve appears to increase as their confinement continues."
The coercion subjected to the GJRs included solitary confinement, which the judge admitted lead to the "deterioration" of their physical and mental health, and their overall detainment has cost them "jobs, income and important personal relationships."
One resister, Matthew Pfeiffer, remains detained, as his lawyer chose not to include his case in the motion for release.
Emilie Rensink writes about civil liberties, counter-terrorism, cyber-security and political activism. Subscribe to get her articles delivered to your inbox.