Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Monica Jones' Walking While Black Trans Conviction In AZ Overturned!

Have some good news to report on this day in terms of the Monica Jones 'Walking While Black Trans' case in Arizona.

You'll recall that the local activist was walking several blocks from her home on May 17, 2013 to meet some friends at a bar and was profiled by an undercover cop executing a prostitution sting.  She was arrested and convicted of violating an unjust law in Phoenix.

She subsequently appealed her conviction for Walking While Black Trans in August, and yesterday the Arizona Superior Court overturned her April 2014 conviction for manifesting intent to solicit prostitution under an unjust Phoenix law the ACLU, Ms Jones and other have argued is unconstitutional.

Of course Ms. Jones and her legal team were ecstatic  about the victorious outcome

Monica Jones“Today is a great day! My wrongful conviction under the Phoenix manifestation law was vacated this morning. I am so grateful to my legal team and all of my supporters across the country and world. My conviction being vacated is important but it is a small win in our larger fight for justice. There are so many trans women and cisgender women who might be charged under this law in Phoenix and similar laws across the country. There is so much more work that needs to be done so that no one will have to face what I have no matter who they are or what past convictions they have.”

Jean-Jacques Cabou, a partner at the law firm of PerkinsCoie who represented Monica in her appeal and argued her case, said: “Monica was convicted in an unconstitutional trial, under an unconstitutional law, of a crime she didn’t commit.  We are incredibly pleased that the appellate court agreed that Monica was unconstitutionally denied the presumption of innocence and that the court vacated her conviction.”    

Monica Jones“Like so many trans women of color, Monica Jones was profiled and targeted by police for walking down the street," said Chase Strangio, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project. "Today’s reversal of her conviction is an important validation of Monica’s brave fight to be seen and treated like a human being.”

“Monica Jones was targeted by law enforcement after her public opposition to the coercive treatment of sex workers by Project ROSE," said Dan Pochoda, senior counsel at the ACLU of Arizona.  "The demise of this Project is based on the inaccurate claim that most adult sex workers are "trafficked" is further vindication of Monica.”

This case may not be over just yet.   The State of Arizona may wish to refile the charges, so stay tuned.  But Monica won this legal round, and congrats to Ms. Jones and her legal team for standing up for her human rights and striking a blow for justice.

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