Three witnesses also testified on behalf of the eleven defendants. ?Frank Cordaro, one of the defendants,
testified first and clarified for the court that the eleven were not "protesters" on that day (as they had been
described by the officers involved) but were acting as responsible citizens actively participating in Democracy. ?
Cordaro is a well-known, longtime human rights and antiwar activist, a former priest, and lives in Des Moines.
He explained there was an urgent need to make sure the Senator knew that his actions had strong sway over
whether more or fewer people would immediately die. ?When asked why he believed it reasonable to expect to
be able to communicate with the Senator, Cordaro testified they he and others had been able to speak with
other legislators on the phone by visiting their Iowa offices. ?He also added that the Senator's "job" and/or legal
obligation was to hear from and represent constituents.
The second witness was Kathy Kelly from Chicago and founder of ?Voices for Creative Non-Violence. ?
VCNV is also the sponsor of the Occupation Project in which citizens throughout the country are visiting
legislative offices to urge their legislators to end the war. ?Kelly described how the lives and the security of
millions in Iraq and the United States were increasingly jeopardized by the continuation of the war. ?She also
explained how economic assault, particularly on the poor, in both nations was increasing exponentially and any
remaining sparse funds for humanitarian needs were disappearing altogether.
Especially affecting testimony came from Joshua Casteel who was also a defendant. Casteel explained he
sincerely believed that Grassley would hear from the group because of his long association with the Senator. ?
Senator Grassley was Casteel's sponsor when Casteel was accepted to the West Point Military Academy.
Casteel testified that he had been assigned as an interrogator at Abu Grahib prison. ?He described how he had
been instructed to smash the hands of prisoners with hammers and induce life-threatening levels of
hypothermia in prisoners during these interrogations. Casteel said it was apparent that the torture was inflicted
on some detainees who were clearly guilty of nothing more than being Arabs. ?Casteel said he believed that
the Senator would want to hear from him regarding what he [Casteel] had seen because "without his
[Grassley's] approval, what happened to me would never have happened."
Following Casteel's testimony, the Defense rested, and Magistrate Judge Jill Ableidinger announced she would
take the case under advisement and that she would render a written decision in the next few days.
The eleven defendants who were arrested on February 26 are: Frank Cordaro, Des Moines, Joshua Casteel,
Iowa City, John Paul Hornbeck, Iowa City. David Goodner, Iowa City. Timothy Gauger, Iowa City, Megan Felt,
Iowa City. Conor Murphy, Iowa City. Ryan Merz, Iowa City. Justin Riley, Iowa City, Rosemary Persaud, Iowa City,
Andrew Alemao, Iowa City.
The same eleven had held a press conference the evening before. ?A description of that event can be found here. ?A press article on the press conference can be foundhere.
Further press coverage on the eleven will be posted on this page as it appears.
From left to right. ??? Seated: David Goodner, Justin Riley, Frank Cordaro, Conor Murphy. ??? Standing: Kathy Kelly (witness), Megan Felt, Andrew Alemao, Joshua Casteel, ?Mary Wolfe (attorney for the defendants),
Rosemary Persaud, John Paul Hornbeck, Ryan Merz, Timothy Gauger
The hearing for the "Cedar Rapids Eleven" was held at the Linn County Court House in Cedar Rapids on
Wednesday, April 25. ?Eleven people were arrested on February 26, 2007, for criminal trespassing for refusing
to leave US Senator Charles Grassley's Cedar Rapids office until the Senator spoke with them about his vote on
escalating and continuing the War in Iraq. The hearing was moved to a larger courtroom when it became clear
that the crowd of about forty supporters of the defendants would not fit in the room originally assigned. The trial
was heard by Magistrate Judge Jill Ableidinger.
The Linn County Attorney's Office called three witnesses including a federal marshal who was working in the
Federal Building that day and two police officers who participated in the arrests. ?In their testimony it was stated
that people were required to leave the federal building when the building closed at 5:00 p.m. ?It was also stated,
however, that people were allowed to remain in the building if they had a good and compelling reason to be
there, as had been the situation for jurors for a federal case who were permitted to remain in the building until
6:00 p.m. that same evening while they were deliberating on a federal trial. ?All three officers described the
defendants as polite, peaceable, and respectful.