In the above interview, host Catherine Brand speaks with Capitol Reporter Jorge Valencia about Raleigh's top prosecutor's decision to dismiss hundreds of cases against people who were arrested for protesting at the state Capitol last year.
In talking about the decision, District Attorney Ned Mangum referenced a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a Massachusetts law limiting protests outside abortion clinics. He says the District and Superior courts in Wake County have cited the case to dismiss some protest cases here.
"I'm not going to try cases I don't think we can prevail on based on a similar set of facts," he said in an interview. "Each one of these cases can take hours and hours to try in District Court and days to try in Superior Court. When we're not prevailing on them, we need to go back and try the other cases that we have."
Almost 1,000 people were arrested last year in what became known as "Moral Monday" protests. Protestors were speaking out against laws written by the Republican-led General Assembly.
With Mangum's decision on Friday, almost all of the cases have been dismissed. He says he still plans to prosecute a few dozen cases, some of which involved sit-ins in lawmakers' offices.
The decision "vindicates the people's right to assembly in the people's house," said Scott Holmes, an attorney who has represented many of the defendants in the case. "The people have a right to go into the heart of state government and to make speeches, to speak, to chant and pray, to make their voices heard to their representatives. And they have a right to do that as long as they're not disrupting the actual working of the General Assembly."