|District Judge Richard Yetter|
After receiving an email from Borough Solicitor Peter Layman, denying one of Mezzacappa's incessant Right-to-Know requests, she "barrelled" into Borough Hall, according to Clerk Jill Garcia. Sweating, wet and shaking, Mezzacappa reportedly used the word "fuck" between 10-20 times. She told Garcia she was going to punch Layman in the nose and twice stated she was "going to fucking drag [Council President Kelly Gross] to the river and drown her."
A videotape, without audio, showing Mezzacappa in action, was introduced into evidence.
"I was scared," said Garcia." It was frightening."
Mezzacappa left after being told the police would be called, but returned a few minutes later to rip some documents off of a bulletin board.
Garcia's testimony was corroborated by tax collector Elizabeth Haney, who could hear the death threats from her office, about 25' away from the lobby.
Easton Police Officer Charles McMonagle, who ably tried the case for the prosecution, told Judge Yetter that he had to escort Mezzacappa from Borough Hall in January. He warned her that if she became disruptive again, he would cite her.
The tiny courtroom was packed with West Easton supporters, including several members of Council. Mezzacappa's sole supporter was Phil Lauer, whom she paid to represent her.
Testifying on her own behalf, Mezzacappa admitted what she herself called "explosive behavior," and acknowledged using the word "fuck" once or twice. She acknowledged she did refer to Council president Kelly Gross as a bitch. She called it "verbal judo." She denied threatening any physical violence, in contrast to testimony from two witnesses.
She blamed her behavior on nicotine withdrawal, claiming she had just quit smoking.
Lauer's submitted several cases holding that the mere use of the word "fuck" is not disorderly conduct, even when directed at a police officer. He submitted no case, however, establishing that it is legally permissible to use that word 10-20 times in a public building.
But his main argument, in essence, is that although malcontents like Mezzacappa are trying, they are essential to a democracy. Judge Yetter refused to accept that argument as a basis for justifying death threats.
He did, however, dismiss a harassment charge against Mezzacappa. Lauer persuaded the judge that two separate incidents in January and August were insufficient to establish a "course of conduct."
Mezzacappa was fined $200 and has 30 days to appeal. It is unclear at this point whether she will do so.
Updated 10:50 AM. - On her blog this morning, Mezzacappa shrouds herself tn the First Amendment. "Although it appears that the First Amendment stalled out on Butler Street yesterday, the second amendment is alive and well. And I'm off to Cabella's."