There’s an old saying about walking a mile in somebody else’s shoes before judging that person. An actual judge is taking that admonition to heart, except instead of walking a mile before judging, he’s going to climb.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein, who is presiding over the case of protester and Statue of Liberty climber Therese Okoumou, requested a trip to Liberty Island to ”to better appreciate the risks or hazards created by defendant’s conduct” before sentencing. But the judge made it clear this will not be a typical crime scene examination, NBC News reports.
“Additionally, if it were deemed possible and safe,” Gorenstein said in an order entered last Wednesday, “the Court would like a ladder to be made available so the Court (and counsel if requested) can view, while remaining on the ladder, the surface of the area where the defendant was situated on July 4, 2018.”
The judge asked federal prosecutors to arrange the trip, and to make accommodations for not only Okoumou and her counsel but the court’s deputy clerk and law clerks as well, if possible.
Okoumou defense attorney Ron Kuby told NBC News that he thought the request was “unusual,” but not unreasonable.
Okoumou made national headlines when she climbed onto the base of the Statue of Liberty last year in order to protest U.S. immigration policy. Her actions led to the evacuation of nearly 4,000 people from Liberty Island. Okoumou placed “Abolish ICE” stickers on the statue before she was taken into custody. She was later found guilty of trespassing, disorderly conduct and interference with agency functions after a brief bench trial in Manhattan.
The National Park Service is working with the U.S. Attorney’s office to fulfill the judge’s request.
Okoumou is set to be sentenced on March 19. She faces up to 18 months in prison.