Newsday reports that the SHAC 7 (minus 1) trial has been postponed owing to the illness of Isobel McGinty, attorney for Kevin Kjonas:
NEWARK, N.J. -- A judge declared a mistrial Monday in the conspiracy case of six animal rights activists charged under domestic terrorism laws after the lawyer for one was too ill to continue with the trial.
U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper, sitting in Trenton, halted the proceedings because Isabel McGinty, the attorney for defendant Kevin Kjonaas, was too ill to proceed with the trial, which began nearly three weeks ago.
Kjonaas and five others associated with the animal rights group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty will be retried at an unspecified future date, said Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The case is not likely to come to trial before September, Drewniak said.
"We have faith in the evidence and look forward to retrying it when the judge approves," he said.
Kjonaas and the others are charged with conspiring to threaten and terrorize employees and customers of Huntingdon Life Sciences, a Britain-based drug testing company that uses animals in its tests in laboratories in East Millstone, N.J.
The defendants -- Kjonaas, 27; Lauren Gazzola, 26; Jacob Conroy, 29; Joshua Harper, 30; Darius Fullmer, 28; John McGee, 26, and Andrew Stepanian, 26 -- have denied any wrongdoing and say the trial violates their right to free speech.
On June 14, McGinty halted her opening statement and complained that she felt faint. She was admitted to a hospital that night and was discharged two days later. The nature of her illness has not been disclosed.
The defendants were arrested in May 2004. All but Harper, of Seattle, and Stepanian, of Huntington, N.Y., are current or former New Jersey residents. The group lists a post office box in Philadelphia on its Web site but currently operates out of the San Francisco area, according to a spokeswoman.
The six could be sentenced to three and five years in prison, and fines of up to $250,000 if convicted. They are the first people to be charged in New Jersey under the federal Animal Enterprise Protection Act, a 1992 law that was expanded in 2002 and equates their alleged activities with domestic terrorism.
The indictment alleges the group incited others to commit crimes of vandalism and harassment against employees of Huntingdon and companies that did business with Huntingdon by putting employees' names, addresses and other personal information on a Web site. Later, the group would post reports of the incidents on the site.
The group says it does not support activities that harm people.
I offer this without comment, other than the admittedly snarky observation that the defense had requested a delay a few short weeks ago, which had been denied.