Clock tower protester not financially liable

By Joseph Altman Jr.

Arizona Daily Wildcat

A Pima County Justice Court Judge ruled Wednesday that Abel Duffy will not have to pay restitution to the university for his six-day protest atop the UA clock tower.

The 23-year-old University of New Mexico student climbed the tower last February to protest the Mount Graham telescope project and was convicted of trespassing in November. He was acquitted on charges of criminal damages and interference with the peaceful conduct of an educational institution.

The University of Arizona wanted Duffy to pay for the extra police officers required to watch Duffy, damages to the tower and the cost of putting up barricades , said University Attorney Tom Thompson.

Paul Gattone, Duffy's attorney, said the judge vacated the request for over $10,000 in restitution because the university, under the law, is not considered a victim for the purpose of restitution, and Duffy's actions did not result in a direct economic loss for the university.

Gattone said the UA should not be reimbursed for the police overtime and cost to put up barriers because "regular criminal proceedings never make you pay for getting arrested."

In addition, since Duffy was acquitted of the criminal damages charge, he can not be liable to pay for damage to the tower, Gattone said.

"They were just asking for (the money) because it was a political activity," he said.

Duffy was scheduled to appear in court today for sentencing and a hearing on the restitution. Since the restitution charges have been dropped, Duffy will be sentenced at 10 a.m. for trespassing.

Trespassing carries a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail or a $500 fine. Gattone, however, said he does not expect that Duffy will receive the maximum sentence.

"I don't expect he'll be given jail time in the case since it was a politically motivated act," Gattone said. "But knowing how the state has acted on these entire proceedings, they will ask for jail time."

Thompson said he thought the county would appeal Wednesday's ruling. Pima County Attorney Todd Wilson, who is prosecuting the case, was not available for comment yesterday.

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