I think there is grounds for appealing this case to a higher court.
It's a travesty of justice that a culture was tried and not the crime.
I think that the prosecutor's office, and perhaps the judge, was negligent in their duty to have let the defense make those arguments against Ganas, as though they justified the assailant's shooting someone.
Also, if the judge insisted upon making Ganas' culture or alternative culture material to the case then the prosecuting attorney could have and should have defended Ganas' culture.
People know that communal societies are different from the dominant culture, that's why they're called "Alternative Lifestyles" and "Countercultures." Just like Korean subcultures, and Hispanic subcultures and African subcultures, there are different values and behavior codes than in the dominant culture in America. Yet it can be shown that in Ganas' culture assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill is not sanctioned.
This point should be easy enough to establish.
If help is needed from the stand point of the alternative culture itself, then I would think that the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, Delegate Assembly can file a "friend of the court" brief stating that Ganas would never have been admitted to the Federation if it had been determined that any of the distortions of truth that the defense alleged about Ganas were true. It is not true that the community sanctions rape, nor that members with American citizenship are forced to marry aliens, nor that the community brainwashes members. If any of that were true the Federation would have denied or revoked Ganas' membership.
Yes, it's true that in alternative cultures people sometimes have extra-marital relationships, that Americans marry aliens, and that people are changed by their experience of living in alternative cultures, yet none of that is a sanction for assault of any kind, much less with a gun.
I was one of two envoys sent by the Federation to decide on Ganas' membership in the Federation, and I for one would testify on behalf of the Federation as to the nature of the Ganas Community. I'd even go so far as to say that I want to create a community in Denver modeled after Ganas.
Yet of course it would probably be better that someone from the Federation's Delegate Assembly testify as to the certification by the Federation on the nature of Ganas' culture.
If the court is going to allow the discrediting and disparaging of Ganas' culture then it's culture needs to be defended, and the Federation is in the perfect position to help.
If expert testimony is needed to make these points then there are people in the larger movement who may also be willing to testify. Our contacts in the academic world, such as the Communal Societies Association and the Society for Utopian Studies may provide good expert witnesses.
I believe that it is in the best interest of the Federation to stand up and challenge that court decision against Jeff, although it is actually against Ganas. Ganas must not be left alone in this affront against alternative culture. If it happened at Ganas it could happen at any community, and the movement cannot simply ignore it's responsibility to defend itself by letting this court decision stand unchallenged.
The goal, of course, should be to disallow the trial of alternative culture and the point of seeking a higher court ruling should be to focus upon the crime, yet if the higher court goes the same route in trying the alternative nature of Ganas culture then the prosecution should be ready to counter that argument, with help from the Federation and from academic experts if permitted.
For articles on the case see:
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2008/08/04/2008-08-04_former_commune_member_rebekah_johnson_cl.html>http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2008/08/04/2008-08-04_former_commune_member_rebekah_johnson_cl.htmlShare on Twitter Share on Facebook