Eight activists facing conspiracy charges stemming from last year's Republican National Convention will be tried jointly.
The activists are accused of conspiring to riot and damage property during the RNC in downtown St. Paul and were arrested the weekend before the convention. The defendants belonged to a group called the RNC Welcoming Committee, which vowed to "crash the convention, shut down and disrupt the RNC."
In issuing the order, Ramsey County Judge Teresa Warner noted the charges against each of the so-called "RNC 8" are identical. County prosecutors sought to hold multiple trials, but Warner said she could not, in her words, "overlook the inconvenience, stress and strain on witnesses required to testify eight times about the same thing."
Attorney Bob Kolstad, who is representing one of the defendants, said he's pleased with the judge's decision. Kolstad said separate trials would have been expensive.
"We'd have to pay experts multiple times, we'd have to convince experts to come in multiple times, [and] we'd have to convince witnesses to come in multiple times," Kolstad said. "In addition, I guess the most important thing is being tried together gives us the opportunity to present a united front against the power of the government here."
On the other hand, Judge Teresa Warner denied some of the RNC 8's requests for access to evidence regarding the investigation, including the personnel files of undercover operatives with the Ramsey County sheriff's office.
A trial date has not yet been set.