Longtime Midlands political activist denied jury trial - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Longtime Midlands political activist denied jury trial

(Columbia-AP) June 10, 2003 - A federal judge has denied long-time South Carolina political activist Brett Bursey a jury trial on a federal charge stemming from his protest of a visit in October by President Bush.

Bursey was arrested for trespassing at Columbia Metropolitan Airport before Bush's speech on October 24. Police dropped that charge, but last month US Attorney Strom Thurmond Junior charged Bursey under a statute that allows the Secret Service to restrict access to areas during the president's travels.

Last Wednesday, US Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant denied Bursey a jury trial. In his order, Marchant says the right to a jury trial does not include such minor offenses as the one with which Bursey is charged.

The leader of the South Carolina Progressive Network faces a maximum fine of $5000 and up to six months in jail.

In May 11 US Congressmen asked Attorney General John Ashcroft to drop prosecution of Bursey, saying it's a mistake and a threat to freedom of expression.

updated 8:41am by Chris Rees

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