Press release from Edgar Steele, Lonnie Rae's lawyer.
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Press Release – Immediate - 5:00 p.m., February 4, 2002

Contact: Edgar J. Steele, Attorney at Law tel: (208) 265-4153 fax: (208) 265-5329

102 S. Fourth Ave., Suite C Sandpoint, Idaho 83860

email: [email protected] (best contact method)

COUNCIL, IDAHO - Lonny Rae was sentenced to 7 days in jail today for having shouted the "N" word after a black man who had just brutalized his wife.

The Adams County Prosecutor, Myron Dan Gabbert, has steadfastly refused to charge the black man with anything, though Mr. Rae underwent a jury trial in December for his offence.

Prosecutor Gabbert originally charged Mr. Rae under Idaho's felony "hate crime" statute, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in the state penitentiary. Though the jury refused to convict Mr. Rae of the felony, it did find him liable for assault in having hurled the epithet.

Idaho District Court Judge Stephen sternly remarked from the bench that Mr. Rae "deserved some retribution" for his conduct and that it was important that "sports officials be protected from unruly bystanders."

Mrs. Rae, on assignment for the local newspaper, had taken a photograph after a high-school football game of the referees involved. One of those referees, Kenneth Manley, of Boise, Idaho, objected and grabbed Mrs. Rae from behind in an attempt to take her camera. Mrs. Rae was treated afterward for bruises and a neck injury.

Lonny Rae's attorney, Edgar J. Steele, of Sandpoint, Idaho, had urged the judge to set aside the conviction or, at most, impose no jail time. "This is an important First Amendment case," said Steele. "Send Mr. Rae to jail and the citizens of America will be afraid to say anything to one another, for fear of being locked up." Judge Drescher was unmoved by Steele's entreaty or being reminded that the only person injured that night was Mr. Rae's wife.

Mr. Rae was handcuffed and about to be led away to his cell, when Steele persuaded the judge to defer the sentence while he appealed the case to the Idaho Supreme Court. Steele vowed a battle "all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary." Steele also noted that "this case is far too important for all of us to allow this ruling to go unchallenged."

[An extended statement and legal analysis of the case will be issued to Edgar J. Steele's Internet email list. For a copy, send an email request to [email protected] (To be added to Mr. Steele's email list, send a blank email to [email protected]]

February 07, 2002

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