Woman Convicted After Laughing During Jeff Sessions’ Confirmation Hearing

The Code Pink activist could face a year in prison.

Tom Williams/ZUMA

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


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. 

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you'll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

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