LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Twenty-six protesters charged with shutting down the 2nd Street Bridge as part of a Black Lives Matter Protest in June, 2020 will be tried together in early November.
Jury selection is expected to begin Nov. 3 with the trial starting on Nov. 7.
The protesters are charged with obstructing a highway, which is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in prison and a $250 fine.
Defense lawyers were united in their attempt to keep the 26 cases separate, because they wanted to fully examine evidence against each person and see exactly where they were on the bridge.
However, a judge granted a motion from the prosecution to group all of the cases together on Aug. 1, finding there would be no discrimination by lumping the cases.
None of the lawyers have dropped this case, though, so there are 17 lawyers representing the 26 defendants.
"There has been difficulty scheduling these proceedings, dealing with so many people, so many different attorneys. But we've all been here from the beginning and we're so invested in our client's cases and what they stand for as well," David Spalding, one of the defense lawyers, said.
Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell says his office is committed to these cases, and says it was a safety issue for people to shut down the bridge two years ago.
"They're 70-some feet above the water and I think given, particularly, the tensions that exist and continue to exist with people carrying firearms – no one knew what could possibly happen. And the safety of those people was of the utmost importance," O'Connell said.
Defense lawyer Shannon Fauver entered a guilty plea for her client. But there was a stipulation that it could not be accepted until after the trial had finished for all other defendants.
The plea deal was 20 hours of community service, and Fauver said she asked for the deal because her client has a family member that is sick and cannot come to trial.
On July 13, the Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Judge Josephine Buckner had to recuse herself from the case, because of a previous employer and social media posts.