Pending charges against Ojai attorney Cathy Elliot Jones, accused of resisting arrest and interfering with a public meeting at Chaparral High School Oct. 16, will not be filed, according to Ventura County Senior Deputy District Attorney Lisa Lyytikainen.
Jones was arrested by Ojai Police Chief Bruce Norris after she directly addressed City Council candidates at a public forum, an action that violated the rules set forth by organizers. The event was jointly hosted by the Ojai Valley News, Ojai Board of Realtors and Ojai Chamber of Commerce.
Ventura County Senior Deputy District Attorney Lisa Lyytikainen said, “I can only say that the case could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.” Lyytikainen would not comment on what specific evidence was reviewed.
Ojai Chief of Police Bruce Norris said he was surprised at the decision, but respected the district attorney’s opinion.
“I arrested Jones for disturbing a public meeting,” Norris said. “This turned out to be a political meeting, and the elements for the violation of a political meeting were not met in this case, according the California Election Code.”
Norris said his intent was to restore order to the meeting. “It had been civil for an hour and a half. I felt that the public and the candidates had a right to a civil meeting free of interference. It was unfortunate that the public was not able to get the information from these candidates because of the interruption. I think this is probably something that won’t happen again any time soon.”
When asked Tuesday about the ruling, Jones said, “No comment, you can talk to my lawyers.”
Contacted at his Monterey Park office, Jones’ attorney Neal Safran said it was appropriate on the part of the district attorney to reject the case.
“I’m still investigating the entire matter and gathering as much information as I can before I make too many comments. I believe this is a step in the right direction,” Safran said, adding that he has already taken further action.
“At this point, we have attempted to be placed in contact with any insurance that might be available. So I‘m investigating — as far as the promoters of the event — whether they were insured at the time. As of today, there has been no formal filing with respect to the city of Ojai, the county of Ventura, or Mr. Norris. All of that is still under consideration.”