Witness for Social Justice (WSJ) is looking for volunteers to attend the retrial of John Snyder, a local man who is accused of sexual assault of his daughter. The trial is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, May 23, at 9:00am.
Snyder, 52, was tried one year ago in Knox County Common Pleas Court, having been “charged with one count of rape and one count of sexual battery for allegedly engaging in sexual conduct with his daughter when she was between the ages of 11 and 14,” according to the Mount Vernon News (May 12, 2016). After deliberating more than five hours, the jury was unable to come to agreement on the charges. Next Tuesday marks the start of Snyder’s retrial.
WSJ, comprised of Knox County citizens who support social justice, advocates the presence of community members at criminal trials, citing Jocelyn Simonson’s Harvard Law Review article “The Criminal Court Audience in a Post-Trial World,” (June 2014): “The criminal court audience is protected by both the defendant’s right to a public trial under the Sixth Amendment and the public’s right to access criminal proceedings — the ‘freedom to listen’ — under the First Amendment.” Simonson argued:
To be a member of an audience is itself a form of public participation, for there is power in the act of observation: audiences affect the behavior of government actors inside the courtroom, helping to define the proceedings through their presence. Once the audience leaves the courtroom, the experience of observation then serves a host of functions connected to democracy: it furthers public discourse, checks the government through democratic channels, and promotes government legitimacy.
Witness for Social Justice hopes to enlist at least three persons to attend and make the group’s presence known until the end of the trial. Anyone wishing to participate will be given a WSJ t-shirt to wear to the trial. Contact Ryn Edwards or Lorie Shults for more details.