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Community reacts to Jessie Haynes guilty verdict
JEFFERSON COUNTY-By: Leslie Rangel
The defense attorney tonight has already filed an appeal in the case.
He's trying to overturn her conviction for obstruction of a public passageway.
The jury of three black men and three white men found Haynes guilty of blocking a door in the administration building last August.
Prosecutors used this surveillance video as evidence.
Haynes prevented internet journalist Jerry Jordan from going inside a room where the school district attorney was answering questions.
She also prevented board member Mike Neil from getting in when he walked up to find out what was going on.
Judge Langston Adams sentenced Haynes to two years probation, a $2000 fine, 90 days in jail, suspended so Haynes won't serve time unless she violates probation and 100 hours of community service.
Some are calling Hayne's guilty verdict an injustice.
"When the DA's office spend as many resources on all misdemeanor's as this, you would think this was a lynching or a capitol punishment case over a misdemeanor in Beaumont, Texas. This is just another black mark on Beaumont like we used to," Paul Jones, president of the Beaumont chapter of the NAACP.
Others see the verdict as progress toward change.
"There's no doubt it did send a message to BISD and if I was someone inside of BISD who was doing something illegal, I would be very nervous right now," board trustee Mike Neil says.
A jury of six men found Haynes guilty of blocking a public passageway back in August of 2013.
Video shows Haynes on camera preventing Neil and reporter Jordan from walking into a room where the BISD attorney was answering questions.
The misdemeanor trial took nearly a week, but the 6 man jury took less than 45 minutes to make a decision.
"I wanted the jury to send a message to this community that the behavior that we saw as evidence by the facts on this case is not going to be tolerated. Individuals regardless of position within the district will be held accountable with their actions whether criminal or not and hopefully this will allow this community and the district to move forward and repair in the damage that's been done so that everyone can move forward in the best interest of their children," lead prosecutor in the case Ashley Chase said.
"What's next is an appeal. It's a sad thing, I just leave it at that, I think Ms. Haynes is an extremely fine person and I think it's a sad thing and I hope the community can repair itself," Thomas Swanson, Haynes' attorney said.
Haynes faces two years probation, one hundred hours of community service and a $2000 fine.
"I feel that it has a very big part in the color of her skin, because right now, look at it, isn't anyone else being convicted of a misdemeanor, you seen the video, Mike Neil assaulted her and it was unprovoked he wasn't sentence, the district didn't file on him," David Pete, a friend and supporter of Haynes said.
"The fact that the jury which was mixed, came back with a quick decision was very encouraging I think for where people are going forward in Beaumont," Neil says.
The jury may not have a hand in that, given the divided opinions about the verdict and the school district.
Judge Adams also ordered Haynes to attend anger management classes, an impulse control program and a cognitive behavior identification course.