March 2021

Journalist Acquitted of Failure to Disperse, Interference With Official Acts Charges

Andrea Sahouri, a journalist working for the Des Moines Register, was found not guilty of failing to disperse and interfering with official acts charges while covering May 2020 protests against racial injustice in Des Moines. Faegre Drinker defended Sahouri and her then-boyfriend Spenser Robnett against the misdemeanor charges, which culminated in a jury trial that ended in their acquittal on March 10, 2021.

Accompanied by Robnett, Sahouri was reporting on the events occurring in Des Moines when, as it was alleged, she refused to comply with police orders to leave a protest at a mall. Police sprayed her with pepper spray and arrested her, even though she had identified herself as a working reporter from the Des Moines Register. She and Robnett were later charged with failing to disperse and with interfering with official acts, crimes that are punishable by fines and up to 30 days in jail.

The jury found both Sahouri and Robnett not guilty of both charges after less than two hours of deliberation.

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