federal appeals court upholds contempt judgment against brooklyn anarchist jerry koch

by Tim Phillips

Jerry Koch was jailed in May for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury. The grand jury is apparently investigating the explosion of a homemade bomb at an armed-forces recruitment center in the middle of the night in Times Square in 2008, which caused no injuries. Koch is not a suspect, but he was subpoenaed as a witness and granted immunity, meaning he can be jailed for refusing to testify. According to an April 28 New York Times article about the case,

Defense lawyers are not present during grand jury proceedings, which operate secretly and are controlled by prosecutors. After hearing testimony, jurors are asked to determine whether there is enough evidence to return an indictment. Witnesses who are held in contempt after refusing to testify may be jailed until the completion of a grand jury term, often months.

Yesterday a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the contempt judgment against Koch. The panel wrote that the grand jury was investigating a serious crime and the government “has made a convincing showing of its need to ask the questions at issue.” Although the government convinced the appeals court that it has credible evidence that Koch may have information about the crime, Koch has said he does not remember the conversation he allegedly heard in which someone mentioned knowing who was involved in the incident.