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US: Irate rave-goers plead not guilty in Racine bust – December 2002

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  • Irate rave-goers plead not guilty in Racine bust
    Published by JS Online – 2nd December 2002

    Copyright: JS Online

    Racine – Defiance was in the air Monday as most of the people who received $968 citations for attending a rave party in Racine rejected an offer to settle their cases for $100.

    The dozens of not-guilty pleas filed Monday mean the city might have to hire a special prosecutor to handle potentially hundreds of Municipal Court trials.

    Police had issued the “inmate of a disorderly house/controlled substances” citations to 441 people after breaking up the rave at a bar on Nov. 2. They also arrested three men on drug charges.

    The Racine city attorney’s office then offered to reduce the fine to $100 for anyone who pleaded no contest to the municipal citation.

    But on Monday, when 206 of the young adults were scheduled to make their initial court appearance, only 19 pleaded no contest, were found guilty and paid the $100; 40 did not appear and were found guilty by default. That left 147, or more than 70%, who pleaded not guilty and demanded a trial.

    The rest of the people ticketed are scheduled to enter their pleas next Monday and Dec. 16. If, as happened Monday, a majority pleads not guilty, the city could face having to schedule hundreds of trials. That could make it necessary not only to hire a special prosecutor, but also to pay overtime to police officers appearing as witnesses outside their regular shifts.

    That added inconvenience for prosecutors is just what many of the people had in mind.

    “I feel if everybody pleads not guilty, it will get thrown out,” said Kurt Bohman, 27, who performed as “DJ Simple” at the rave and drove six hours from his Minneapolis home for Monday’s court appearance. “It will clog up the court system. It already has.”

    Court officials had expected that no more than 100 people would plead not guilty Monday. As a result, officials were unable to immediately schedule a pretrial conference for about half of them. At those conferences, which begin Dec. 18, those cited will confer with a city prosecutor to try to settle their case before a trial.

    Assistant City Attorney Scott Lewis said he had made the $100 fine offer because $968 was “a little steep.” He said that he and other prosecutors would listen to each person’s story at the pretrial conferences, but that dismissing even one case could put the city at risk of having to dismiss all of them.

    Lewis, who entered his 25th year in the city attorney’s office on Monday, said his office had not attempted to prosecute such a mass of people since more than 100 striking teachers were cited after a rally in the mid-1970s.

    Ald. John Engel, chairman of the Common Council’s Public Safety and Buildings Committee, said he agreed with offering to reduce the fines but said it was important that police took a hard line at the rave party in order to discourage future raves. Such parties are known for illegal drug use, and illegal drugs were found at the Racine party, he said.

    “Are we turning into a rigid, hard-nosed community? I don’t think so,” Engel said.

    Some of the rave-goers who were cited, however, said they think the days of the raves are numbered.

    “The golden era of the scene has passed,” said Daniel Kushner, 23, of Chicago, who pleaded not guilty Monday. “They’ve worn us down pretty well. There’s no ‘us’ anymore.”






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Forums Life Politics, Media & Current Events US: Irate rave-goers plead not guilty in Racine bust – December 2002