'Irvine 11': UC Irvine law school dean calls convictions 'harsh'
But he also said, "There's no free speech right to disrupt an event. ... It's not a matter of free speech because there's no free speech right to shut someone down."
The 10 students were convicted of two misdemeanors -- of conspiring to disrupt and then disrupting a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at UC Irvine last year. Oren, who had been invited to the campus, spoke about U.S.-Israeli relations. An 11th student had earlier agreed to perform community service and was dropped from the trial.
"I think it's a shame that they now have misdemeanor convictions," Chemerinsky said.
Though he said the students did violate the law, the district attorney's office made a "terrible mistake" in prosecuting the case.
"It's unnecessary and it's harmful," Chemerinsky said. "It's unnecessarily divisive.
"Now this keeps it an open wound," he said.
Meanwhile, court has adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Dan Stormer, one of six defense attorneys for the so-called Irvine 11, said sentencing could happen when court reconvenes.
-- Nicole Santa Cruz in Santa Ana
Photo: Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Irvine's law school, said he thought the convictions were harsh. Credit: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times