Another Briarmoon convicted over carriage barn demolition

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Mike DuPre'
Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Despite what the judge described as a “very eloquent closing argument highlighting the American traditions of peaceful dissension and peaceful opposition to the government,” a jury found Micah L. Briarmoon guilty of obstructing Monday.

The 12-person jury took about 15 minutes to reach its unanimous guilty verdict on the non-criminal citation for Briarmoon, 35, of 265 S. Jackson St., Janesville.

Judge James Daley fined Briarmoon $50 and assessed court costs for a total forfeiture of $186.

Acting as his own attorney, Briarmoon chose a jury trial to fight the ticket he received Aug. 6, 2006, when he crossed a police line and lay down on top of debris as city of Janesville employees razed an outbuilding at 1402 W. Court St. owned by his mother, K. Andreah Briarmoon.

In January, a jury took 20 minutes to find Andreah Briarmoon guilty of resisting in the same incident, and Daley fined her and assessed court costs.

In sentencing Andreah Briarmoon, Daley said: “Rights are like a coin; the other side is responsibility. Ms. Briarmoon, you could have exercised your right of free speech but from the other side of the (yellow police) tape. You could have shouted all you wanted.”

The judge continued the lesson Monday.

After praising Micah Briarmoon for his succinctness, focus and eloquence, the judge said: “The other side of the argument is you have to take the punishment (for civil disobedience).”

Briarmoon’s mother’s resistance to city orders to demolish what once was a carriage barn made headlines and drew supporters and opponents since late 2002.

Briarmoon told the court he was responding to his mother’s request for his presence and support the morning the city demolished the shed on West Court Street.

But when he got there, his mother already had been arrested.

Micah Briarmoon went past the yellow tape police had strung to keep people off the property, and he lay down on a pile of wood. Such action was evident in a videotape Briarmoon showed the jury.

Under oath, he acknowledged passively resisting the police: “When officers went to grab me, I went limp. … I knew it was a police officer.”

Briarmoon, who teaches English as a second language at McNeel Middle School in Beloit, testified that he didn’t think he was under arrest at that time. But when Daley asked him directly: “Did you intend to comply?” Briarmoon replied: “No.”

In his closing argument, Briarmoon cited the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—which prohibits the government from unreasonably seizing a person’s property—and the Declaration of Independence’s assertion that people have the right to object to government when they think it’s wrong.

Briarmoon said he doesn’t think the city acted lawfully in condemning his mother’s property.

But Daley told the jury the case was simple and revolved around four points: whether the officers had lawful authority, whether they were acting in their official capacity, whether Briarmoon knew they were police officers and whether Briarmoon’s actions made performance of their duty more difficult.

Last updated: 8:18 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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