Jewish groups urge that 'Irvine 11' convictions be upheld

Three Jewish organizations have filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Irvine 11 case urging a state appellate court to uphold the students' misdemeanor convictions.

The American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Jewish National Fund on Monday asked an Orange County Superior Court appeals panel to maintain the convictions 10 Muslim students from UC Irvine and UC Riverside for conspiring to and disrupting a 2010 speech Israeli Ambassador Oren Oren gave at UCI.

Charges again an eleventh defendant weredismissed after he agreed to perform 40 hours of community service at Costa Mesa's Someone Cares Soup Kitchen.

Friend of the court, or amicus, briefs are often used by a third party to give insight into a case or argue a point of view.

In this week's court filings, the advocacy groups argued that the state can restrict some unruly behavior so that others have the chance to speak.

"Was the appellants' conduct protected by their freedom of speech under either the First Amendment of the United States Constitution or Article I of the California Constitution?" part of the brief read. "The short answer is: No. Under both the federal and state Constitutions, the state may control conduct when that conduct interferes with the exercise of others' freedoms of speech or assembly."

The Jewish groups' attorney, Honey Kessler Amado, said the students' desire to "shut down" Oren is "something that should trouble all of us as Americans."

Counsel for the appellants, Lisa Jaskol, said the filing isn't surprising.

"It's not unusual in a case of widespread importance like this one that advocacy groups would file friend-of-the-court briefs, and we respect their interest," she said.

The Orange County district attorney's office filed a brief with its position June 27, and the appellants are expected to reply before oral arguments are heard in the case, Jaskol said.

A decision from the three-judge appellate panel could come before the end of the year, Jaskol said.

The 10 defendants were sentenced in September 2011 to three years of informal probation and 56 hours of community service.

They have all already completed their community service, according to Jaskol.

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