Disorderly conduct charges have been dropped against 36 people arrested during an April 5 confrontation over a proposed low-level radioactive waste dump, their lawyer said Tuesday.
But most of the protesters still face contempt-of-court charges stemming from the confrontation with state inspectors in the Town of Caneadea, said lawyer Jerry A. Fowler.
Allegany County District Attorney James Euker told the protesters he was dropping the charges because "some of those cases were not good enough to pursue, and those that were good enough to pursue as disorderly conducts would be prosecuted as contempt of courts," Fowler said.
Euker said Fowler's explanation of his rationale was "partly" correct, but declined to elaborate.
Felony assault charges remain against two protesters who allegedly charged on horseback at a column of state troopers escorting inspectors to the dump site. Euker said he hopes to bring those cases to a grand jury next month.
The horseback charge came after police removed six elderly protesters who chained themselves to a Genesee River bridge.
Police had also escorted the inspectors from the state Low-Level Radioactive Waste Siting Commission over a rural road that protesters had blocked with farm equipment, hay and snow boulders.
Thirty-nine people were arrested, including the two charged with felonies and one who was later killed in a traffic accident.
The 39 were charged with contempt for violating state Supreme Court Justice Jerome C. Gorski's restraining order against interfering with the commission.
On May 29, the state dropped contempt charges against two of the protesters and Gorski ordered the state to provide specific details of the charges against the rest within 20 days.
Fowler said the 20-day period has not begun because Assistant Attorney General Peter Sullivan has not filed a formal order with the court.
Sullivan did not return a telephone call seeking comment.