Yesterday Johnny Barnes, the executive director of the local chapter of the ACLU, was accused of a crime he didn’t commit.
Well, sort of. Barnes was in court yesterday representing Keith Silver, an ANC commissioner who was arrested in April for demonstrating outside various congressional buildings in favor of D.C. statehood.
During the perfunctory first part of the trial where the prosecutor asked the arresting Capitol Police officer to identify Silver, the cop fingered Barnes instead.
“It was hilarious,” says Barnes.
He says the prosecutor initially asked the police officer to describe who he arrested. The cop started detailing the tie and jacket that Barnes, who was sitting at a table with another lawyer and Silver, was wearing.
The prosecutor then asked the cop to point out Silver. “Then he pointed straight at me,” says Barnes.
Barnes says there was a buzz in the courtroom after the incorrect police pointing, along with a few laughs. He says the officer looked “bewildered” by what the fuss what about.
“I was so excited about it,” says Barnes. “They handed us a gold coin.”
The screwup didn’t immediately lead to a dismissal, but Barnes thinks it certainly helped Silver’s case. (He was found not guilty of failing to obey a lawful order.)
As for why the cop pointed at the wrong man, Barnes’ theory is that the police officer saw him and co-counsel Yvette Mouton talking in the hallway before the trial started and thought that Barnes was the client.
“He assumed I was the bad guy,” Barnes says.