Fort Mill Times

Judge may dismiss graduation arrest charges

The fate of the eight people arrested at area high school graduations appears to hang heavily on the outcome of a motion from a Rock Hill attorney to dismiss the charges.

Rock Hill Municipal Court Judge Jane Modla last Friday granted a continuance to Jonathan Orr, 21, arrested at the York Comprehensive High graduation and charged with disorderly conduct. Friday was the first time Orr appeared in court.

Modla told Orr the court is considering a motion from attorney Harry Collins to dismiss the charges from arrests at the Fort Mill and Northwestern High graduation ceremonies. Collins is representing five people arrested at the Fort Mill ceremony and a sixth man arrested at the Northwestern commencement.

Orr and Joseph Reiriz, arrested at the Fort Mill High ceremony, are representing themselves.

"It's only fair that we treat all of you the same," Modla told Orr in court during the June 27 appearance.

Collins said he has filed a motion stating the charges should be dismissed because cheering doesn't fall within the criteria for the disorderly conduct statute. He expects to present a six-page brief stating the grounds for dismissal and argue his point in early August.

None of the accused will appear in court again until late August. By then, Modla told Orr, the court should have a decision on the motion to dismiss.

"I was hoping to have everything dropped today," said Orr, who was joined by his parents in court Friday morning. The McConnells man, who was arrested for cheering for his cousin when he received his diploma, said if not granted a continuance, he was prepared to plead not guilty in a bench trial Friday.

The six individuals arrested at the Fort Mill ceremony and the Rock Hill man arrested at Northwestern High's ceremony have requested jury trials in case the motion to dismiss is denied.

All eight individuals arrested were charged with disorderly conduct after cheering during the presentation of diplomas, a time in the ceremony where school officials strictly ban individual cheers. School officials have said everyone attending the ceremonies was warned in advance not to cheer except at the designated times.

If convicted of the misdemeanor offense, the suspects will be required to pay a fine of up to $255.