Dallas couple arrested at marriage sit-ins say they’ll go to trial if cases aren’t dismissed; protest planned outside court appearance Tuesday
It’s been several months since Beau Chandler and Mark “Major” Jiminez handcuffed themselves together at the marriage license counter in the Dallas County Records Building.
Since then, the two went ahead with their wedding plans in September, despite being denied a marriage license. But their court cases are just beginning.
The couple had their first court date Aug. 2 after their July 5 arrests on charges of criminal trespassing for refusing to leave the County Records Building without a license. A rally of supporters on their first court date morphed into another sit-in at the marriage license counter and a second arrest for Jiminez.
The couple is planning another rally in front of Frank Crowley Criminal Courts Building at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27, to support Chandler, who’s scheduled to be in court after his Sept. 26 appearance was rescheduled.
Chad West, one of the attorneys representing the couple, said Tuesday will be an opportunity for the prosecution and defense to discuss how the case should move forward. He said the case is in the development stage and the district attorney’s office is still reviewing it. Jiminez’s next court date hasn’t been set.
West said he hasn’t received a plea bargain offer from the district attorney’s office, adding that prosecutors have until Chandler enters a plea of guilty or not guilty to propose a deal.
Chandler will have until late January to enter a plea and the case could go to trial as early as March.
West doesn’t expect a plea to be entered or a plea bargain to be reached Tuesday. He expects the DA to eventually offer Chandler and Jiminez plea deals, but he said the couple isn’t considering accepting at this point.
“They’re very adamant on their position on this case,” he said. “My understanding after talking with my clients, they’re still weighing the options basically on whether they can even consider taking a plea or whether they want to push this as far as they can.”
Chandler said his mind’s pretty well made up.
“If it’s anything less than a dismissal, we’ll take it all the way to trial,” Chandler said.
“We’re not going to take a plea deal,” he said. “By taking it to trial, we want to make them look at us in the face and tell us we’re not worthy. If a jury of our peers tells us that, then we know where we stand.”
Assistant District Attorney Jessica Trevizo is the prosecutor on Chandler’s case, which she said is the only case pending. She said Jiminez’s case hasn’t been processed yet.
Trevizo said both sides will discuss a possible plea deal and negotiate how to move the case along on Tuesday, adding that “any resolution we can come to is always great.”
Chandler said some people don’t understand why the couple is pushing to take the cases to trial since they are fighting criminal trespassing charges, not fighting for marriage equality. But he said it’s important because the charges resulted from standing up for their rights to marry, so they will see the cases through with a dismissal or a trial.
“The point was to raise awareness,” Chandler said. “If we got one person to pay attention that we’re being treated unequally, then we’ve done our part.”
Chandler and Jiminez face class-B misdemeanor charges of criminal trespassing, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 23, 2012.