Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts
UNIVERSITY PARK — Three Penn State students will learn within five days whether they will be held responsible and punished for charges stemming from a protest on the Osmond Laboratory balcony in July.
The demonstration coincided with National Governors’ Association meeting, some events of which were held in the HUB-Robeson Center, across the street from the Osmond building.
On Thursday, Penn State judicial affairs officer Fred Fotis, who is also director of housing and food services, heard defense testimony and closing statements for Justin Leto, Michelle Yates and Robyn Stephens, all charged by Penn State’s Office of Judicial Af fairs with failure to comply with a directive and unauthorized use of university buildings and facilities.
Both charges are outlined in the university’s Code of Conduct.
Prosecution in the case was heard Oct. 5, and with the hearing now complete, Fotis has five days to issue a report and decision. Punishment for such charges could range from a warning to probation.
Witnesses at the hearing included Bill Mahon, director of public information; Steve MacCarthy, executive director of university relations; two Penn State police officers; an Office of Physical Plant employee; and students Brian Ecker, Jeff Martin and other students.
University President Graham Spanier declined the defendants’ request that he appear as a witness, saying there is no relationship between the charges and his walking past Osmond during the protest, Mahon said.
Observers at the hearing were limited to several seats in the hearing room for those with Penn State identification cards.
At Thursday’s proceedings, Fotis refused to admit observers who were not present at the Oct. 5 session.
The students, who in July held a politically charged banner from the balcony with the intent of drawing attention during the NGA meeting, had criminal charges against them dismissed at a preliminary hearing in Centre County Court.
Andrew Shubin, a State College civil-liberties attorney, is advising the defendants without charge and also appeared as a witness at the Penn State hearing.
By ADAM SMELTZ