An attorney representing a group of Muslim students found guilty of disrupting a speech by the Israeli ambassador said she will appeal the case, which she said tests whether “peaceful, measured student protests” should be a crime.
“We are confident that a higher court will overturn the convictions and protect this important right for every individual,” said Jacqueline Goodman, who represents some members of a group of students who became known as the “Irvine 11.”
Ten of the 11 students were convicted in 2011 of disrupting Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s speech at UC Irvine on American-Israeli relations. Their conviction was recently upheld by a panel of Orange County Superior Court judges.
The students were sentenced with informal probation and community service, which they have since completed. Prior to the conviction, prosecutors dismissed charges against the 11th student, who also completed community service.
Prosecutors maintained that the group of students essentially “shut down” Oren’s speech — which had about 800 attendees — and impeded his rights.
Attorneys for the students, though, said their clients were simply exercising their right to free speech, and that it was wrong to punish them for doing so.
The Irvine 11 case garnered national attention at the time for its examining of free-speech rights.