Coal protesters seek jury trial

2012-11-14T14:28:00Z 2012-11-14T14:51:21Z Coal protesters seek jury trialBy SANJAY TALWANI Independent Record Helena Independent Record
November 14, 2012 2:28 pm  • 

A group of people charged with trespassing in August during protests related to coal development filled a Helena courtroom Wednesday afternoon, asking a judge for jury trials in the matter.

Twenty-three people were charged in August for occupying the Capitol building after hours. They were trying to prevent the state Land Board from approving a lease for coal mining in southeastern Montana.

Of the 23, seven are seeking resolution through plea agreements, a lawyer for the group told Helena Municipal Judge Bob Wood.

The other 16, including longtime Montana author Rick Bass, asked for jury trials. Of those, 13 appeared in court and three communicated by telephone.

Before the hearing, about 25 people held a rally in Centennial Park on Last Chance Gulch in protest of increased coal production in Montana for export to Asia.

Trial dates have not yet been set but may take place in February, a court clerk said.

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