Woman Convicted After Laughing During Jeff Sessions’ Confirmation Hearing

The Code Pink activist could face a year in prison.

Tom Williams/ZUMA

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Three women involved with the activist group Code Pink were convicted Wednesday on disruption charges after protesting Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate confirmation hearing in January. One of the women, Desiree Fairooz, was found guilty of “disorderly or disruptive” conduct after laughing at Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R-Ala.) claim that Sessions had a well-documented record of “treating all Americans equally under the law.”

Federal prosecutors said Fairooz’s laughing caused enough of a disruption to turn heads and divert attention from the hearing. They also accused her of provoking further disturbance when she protested her eventual ejection from the hearing.

The campaign director for Code Pink, Ariel Gold, who was sitting near Fairooz during the January 10 hearing, described the laughs as merely a “reflex” and said they were fainter than a cough. HuffPost‘s Ryan J. Reilly was also present at the hearing and recorded Fairooz’s removal:

The other two women convicted on Wednesday, Tighe Barry and Lenny Bianchi, were found guilty on “parading or demonstrating” charges after dressing in Ku Klux Klan robes for the hearing. The New York Times reports they were not convicted of the same disorderly conduct charge as Fairooz because they stood up in costume before the hearing officially began.

All three women pleaded not guilty to the charges. They face up to 12 months in prison each.

Sessions’ nomination to lead the Justice Department was highly contested. Critics claimed he had a history of racist comments and actions, including blocking black judges from serving in federal court and working to prevent black people from voting.

Update, 5/4: The headline has been updated to better reflect Desiree Fairooz’s conviction. 

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate