Judge rejects motion

SANTA ANA — An Orange County judge on Thursday rejected a motion by prosecutors that he unseal the transcript of a grand jury investigation into the Irvine 11 case.

Eleven students stand criminally charged for allegedly disrupting a speech at UC Irvine last year by Israel's ambassador to the United States.

Defense attorneys and prosecutors could not comment Thursday because Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter J. Wilson had earlier issued an order forbidding both sides from talking to the media about the case.

Wilson said the transcripts revealed the prosecution's perspective in pressing their case against the 11 students from UC Irvine and UC Riverside.

According to a court document, the defense wanted the judge to keep the grand jury transcript sealed so as not to taint the jury pool selection.

A grand jury investigation in January was instrumental in a controversial decision by the Orange County district attorney's office to file charges against and prosecute the students.

The 11 were charged with conspiring to commit a crime and disturbing assembly, when they allegedly disrupted the Feb. 8, 2010, speech at UCI by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, according to court records. If convicted, the defendants face up to six months in jail.

Other public documents containing defendants' personal e-mail information were set to be redacted to protect their privacy.

Court proceedings were moved to a smaller courtroom, which was filled with friends, family, supporters and those interested in the case. Among them were Chuck Anderson, president of the Orange County chapter of the ACLU, and Jim Gilchrist, president of the Minuteman Project.

Outside the Santa Ana courthouse, some protesters from the Orange County Peace Coalition wore gags.

"Mr. Rackauckas has chosen to pick on these students on a racial basis to further his career," Anderson said, referring to Orange County D.A. Tony Rackauckas.

"This is a pure case of racism that should never have been brought to court," the ACLU official continued. "The problem was already settled by university authorities. The students have already been punished. These are great young people, all serious students — the future leaders of our community."

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