Matt Duran had a hearing on the 26th. He is still being held at SeaTac FDC on contempt of court for an undetermined amount of time. He could potentially be held until March of 2014.
Here’s a summary of what happened on the 26th:
Friends and Supporters arrived and went through security at the Federal Courthouse about 10 minutes before court began. Court proceedings were held on the 13th floor with Judge Richard Jones.
Judge Jones began the morning with an explanation of the policies around open v. closed contempt hearings. He explained that the beginning of Matt’s hearing is not technically a contempt hearing, but a chance for Matt to state his intentions around whether or not he will be providing the court with information or if he will continue to resist their coercion. This means that the first portion of the hearing was specifically addressing the Grand Jury proceedings and could not be accessible to the public. He continued to explain that, once Matt stated his intentions, and if he continued to resist the court’s wishes, the hearing then turned into a contempt hearing and would become public.
Judge Jones went on to explain and apologize for the “miscommunication” during Matt’s initial Grand Jury appearance. During his initial appearance on September 13th, those who were attempting to get through security and up to the contempt hearing were repeatedly told that the hearing was closed and that no one would be any further than the lobby of the courthouse. He admitted that the original contempt hearing on September 13th should have functioned identically to the way that day would go.
At that time, Judge Jones notified Matt’s friends and supporters that the first portion of the hearing would be specifically discuss the Grand Jury and proceeded to excused the public, closing the hearing.
Friends and Supporters hung out just beyond the doors and the hearing was open again approximately 3 minutes later. Matt, once again, kept true to his word, to his principles and to his loved ones, and did not answer any questions.
Once allowed back in, Matt’s lawyer took the floor to explain Matt’s current conditions and intentions. Here is an abridged and bullet-point list of issues and information brought up by Matt’s lawyer in court —
Matt is in Solitary Confinement (the Secure Housing Unit) which means …
+ he has very little access to phone
+ he has been denied the ability to initiate contact with attorney
+ he has been denied visitor request forms
+ he has been denied vegan food (has access to vegetarian options and commissary items)
+ he has no way of socializing within the prison
+ he has no access to sunlight, fresh air or an untinted window to the outdoors
Even under these conditions, Matt has no intention of changing his mind or strategy. Matt’s lawyer explained that Matt will be at peace no matter where he is within the prison. She said that he would like to socialize and play chess with other inmates, but is content where he is. He has a clock radio and a couple of romance novels the prison gave him upon arrival. She went on to describe the kinds of support Matt has been getting while in prison. Matt has received an overwhelming number of letters from all over the world, some from friends and most from strangers, who support and respect him for his convictions. Recently, a few publishers have written him offering to send him books for free and he has begun to receive reading material from many sources. She also cited that, during the transport to the Prison, an inmate in the vehicle with Matt complimented him and respected him because “…most people are in here because they were informed on by other people…”. Matt’s lawyer demonstrated how resilient, driven, focused and principled Matt is and will continue to be. She also argued that, because of Matt’s steadfast commitment to silence, his detainment was punitive.
The Prosecution (the government) took the floor after Matt’s lawyer’s statements. They explained that Matt’s conditions and treatment were normal and the same as all prisoners at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac. They also asserted that because Matt’s lawyer did not have representation from FDC SeaTac, Matt’s detainment conditions could not be corroborated. He also argued that, because Matt is getting worldwide support “…he must be doing fine…” The Prosecution made clear that, even though statements of non-compliance were made by Matt and on behalf of Matt, a statement of non-compliance would not be enough to prove that incarceration had moved from coercive to punitive. He also made it known that congress passed the law ruling that someone can be held for no more than 18 months in civil contempt as a coercive strategy for a reason. The Prosecution explained that the full coercive affects of imprisonment had not be felt by Matt due to the short term of detainment and that a second hearing date for 6-8 months out to reasses his incarceration was reasonable. The Prosecution made that suggestion then rested.
Matt’s lawyer took the floor and suggested that the court not set another hearing date, while reserving herself and her client the privilege of coming forward to request a date.
The Prosecution agreed with this suggestion.
Judge Jones ruled to not set another hearing date and to keep Matt Duran detained.
Please keep writing to Matt!