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Conviction against 'Lucy' of 'Charlie Brown' dropped in UCLA animal rights case

March 13, 2009 | 10:08 am

A judge voided the conviction of Pamelyn Ferdin, the voice of the character Lucy in some "Charlie Brown" specials, for violating an injunction against demonstrations near the homes of UCLA primate researchers, her attorney said.

The homes of some UCLA researchers have been targeted in recent years by animal rights activists. UC Regents secured a restraining order last year against several individuals and animal rights organizations, including UCLA Primate Freedom. The injunction, which was served against the website uclaprimatefreedom.com, prohibited distribution of researchers' addresses and phone numbers, said Ferdin's attorney, George Seide. But, Seide said, the order did not include Ferdin or uclaprimatefreedom.org, where Ferdin downloaded a list of addresses and phone numbers.

On June 14, 2008, Ferdin, 49, of Agoura Hills handed out fliers with the personal information without knowing about the injunction, Seide said. She was convicted of contempt of court on Nov. 6. She faced a $1,000 fine, 120 hours of community service and five days in prison.

During the court process, Ferdin was not advised about her 5th and 6th Amendment rights, the right to avoid self-incrimination and the right to have an attorney, said Seide, who only began representing Ferdin on Wednesday. On that day, he argued that the court should repeal the conviction, and Judge John L. Segal in Santa Monica agreed. They set a new trial date of April 28.

"The fact that she didn’t know constitutional rights just voided whole process," Seide said.

When the case proceeds, Seide said, he would make another constitutional argument. "If you restrict a constitutional right to gather, you can't violate an order unless you know what the order is," Seide said. It was the UC Regents' responsibility to target the correct website, he said.

"The only reason my client was cited was because she was a child actress and would get the most publicity," Seide said. "You get bang for your buck if you stop Lucy from the 'Charlie Brown' specials and Felix Unger's daughter in 'The Odd Couple.' "

-- Jia-Rui Chong