Court proceedings against student protesters halted

Hansook Oh

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The students arrested during the March 4 demonstrations walk out of San Fernando Valley courthouse Wednesday morning. (Left to right) Anthony Garcia, Jonnae Thompson, Justin Marks, Jose Gomez and Angel Guzman. Photo Credit: Armando Ruiz / Senior Photographer

The city has resolved to not continue pursuing criminal charges against five students arrested during March 4 demonstrations against budget cuts, due to new findings in the discovery process.

Under a legal agreement called “informal diversion,” CSUN students Jose Gomez, 22, Justin Marks, 22, Jonnae Thompson, 23, and Anthony Garcia, 30, and Los Angeles Valley College student Angel Guzman walked out of court Wednesday, free of further prosecution. The five are exempt from trial and will not face penalty, with the condition that they stay out of legal trouble for one year.

Prosecuting attorney, Bill Cullen said the city resolved to suspend its pursuit of  a criminal charge against Gomez because of recent testimony from Baird-Olsen contesting the police report.

Police reports stated Gomez caused Baird-Olson’s injuries and she denied it was Gomez who had broken her arm.

“I’m feeling very relieved because I thought I was going to go to jail,” Gomez said. “After hearing the judge say that the charges were dropped, all the CSUN supporters in the court room applauded and I was overwhelmed with emotion.”

The students will appear in court for a final time February 2012 and will have their records completely expunged, if they honor the conditions of the agreement.