A state prosecutor said Tuesday he will seek 10-year prison terms for the two Yale students arrested in an anti-war protest in late October if they are convicted.
Jeff Lee, a prosecutor in the office of the Hartford State’s Attorney, said he will seek identical penalties for the other members of the group that has been called the “Hartford 18” — the 18 Connecticut college students arrested in the protest in the capital.
Police charged Jonathan Scolnik ’03 and Abhimanyu Sud ’03 with felonies after demonstrators and police clashed during the march. At the time of the arrests, both Scolnik and Sud said many of the allegations against them were unfounded.
Sud was charged with inciting to riot and disorderly conduct, while Scolnik was charged with inciting to riot, interfering with police, and inciting to assault an officer. A judge dismissed the last charge at a bail hearing shortly after the arrest.
Scolnik declined to comment Tuesday. Sud did not return phone calls.
Lee said the charges stemming from the Hartford demonstration “will not be taken lightly,” and that those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“This is a criminal case, and our goal is for the people involved to serve jail time,” Lee said.
Scolnik and Sud may not have anything to worry about, however.
Wesleyan junior Abe Walker, who was present at the protest, said the strategy of all the defendants is to reach a plea bargain out of court.
Most protest cases similar to this one are either dismissed or settled out of court, Yale Law School professor Steven Duke said.
“Hardly anything ever goes to trial in Connecticut in state court,” he said.
But Lee is not backing down.
“We suspect the defense might try to reach a plea, but we have every intention of taking this case to trial,” he said.
Adam Hurter, a Wesleyan student arrested at the protest, said Lee’s goal of a 10-year jail sentence is “utterly ridiculous.”
“His comments truly show the absurdity of the situation,” Hurter said.
One option Scolnik and Sud could pursue is known as “accelerated rehabilitation.” Defendants may argue before a judge that community service would be more appropriate than jail time. If the judge agrees, the defendant has the option of performing the service without entering a plea.
Lee said he will “object vigorously” if any of the students arrested at the Hartford demonstration makes such a motion.
Walker said recently that many of the demonstrators are busy raising money for the legal defense of those arrested. Hurter said all of the defendants have found some type of reduced-fee counsel, but none have received pro bono offers — which Duke said is unusual.
“I am surprised that the case hasn’t generated any pro bono representation,” Duke said.
Scolnik and his attorney, Hubert Santos, filed a motion in Superior Court today. Scolnik would not discuss its contents, and Santos did not return phone calls to his office.
Sud is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow for a hearing similar to Scolnik’s. Scolnik and his lawyer are slated to meet with the judge and prosecutor Dec. 21, when the court will entertain yesterday’s motion.