"I want to emphasize that this is not a verdict of innocence. The defendant is simply not guilty of the crime charged," said Judge L.G. "Buz" Cutler.Interestingly, the article fails to include the fact that Ridgway has already served 5 days in jail on the charge. Nor did the article mention that justice court verdicts are not binding at all. Either side can seek a de novo review [basically, you start from scratch] at the District Court level on most matters. Of course, more often than not, people don't bother to "appeal" because of the trivality of outcome--a fine or none, less than a year jail time or none, drug testing or none, etc.
Cutler's ruling came after more than four hours of prosecution testimony concerning a criminal trespass charge at GOP headquarters lodged against Ridgway in March 2007. The judge ruled before hearing the testimony of any defense witnesses.
Ridgway had tried to crash an executive committee meeting of Salt Lake County's Republican Party - with a wheelchaired veteran in tow. He was ejected from the building, which serves as headquarters of the state GOP, and arrested. He spent five days in jail. "We've traditionally always had our meetings open," County GOP Chairman James Evans testified. He said he had discretion to close executive committee meetings if someone did or could cause a disruption.
Ridgway, who ran for the party's U.S. Senate nomination in 2006 against Orrin Hatch and was a former central committee member, had already incurred an injunction that forbade him from coming within 20 feet of party activist Mark Towner and his family.
On a more fundamental level however, I have never gotten what Ridgway thought he was accomplishing by all of his various antics. Was the point to embarrass the Utah Republican Party establishment? To endear himself to Utah Democrats? To make some sort of a political or legal statement? If so, what was his statement? Since it is pretty unclear, I think it is safe to say if that was his goal, he didn't accomplish it. Also, I think even he would admit he now has zero chance of ever being a Republican nominee for any office in Utah or to getting any appointed position either. Maybe he is one of those people that gets a rise out of annoying others. Frankly, I don't get it.
Gadflies are supposed to a martyr for a cause other than self promotion of said martyr. This has been true since the days of Socrates. In any event, the whole Ridgway drama has been entertaining to watch as a political junkie, although I am sure it was not nearly as fun for the Towner family. Hopefully this is the last we will ever hear of Mr. Ridgway. I am currious to see what Mark has to say about the whole thing.