Judge Amul Thapar received a sentencing brief from sentencing law expert Douglas Berman on the eve of the Transform Now Sentencing hearings. Berman’s brief dealt with several questions raised in court at the first session of the sentencing which was disrupted by snow on January 28.
One argument put forward by the defense at the initial hearing was the use of the sabotage law against nonviolent protesters was outside the “heartland” of the law—meaning the law was intended for use against real saboteurs, not in cases like this. The prosecution argued, and the judge appeared to agree, that since the sabotage law was upgraded, it was rarely used against civilians, in fact, it had been used only three times, and all of them were in nuclear weapons protest cases. The logic was “if this is what it is being used for, it must be what it was meant for.” The judge, ignoring the fact that in two of those three cases judges had ruled for the defendants that the case was “outside the heartland,” concurred with the prosecution. Professor Berman disagrees.
The defense attorneys labored into the evening Monday, February 17, and filed their response to Bermans’ brief, noting Judge Thapar now not only has the discretion to provide some relief in sentencing, but has the opinion of an expert who suggests the Transform Now Plowshares defendants need not and should not be treated as though they were terrorists bent on actual sabotage.
You can read the Berman brief here:
And you can read the superb response by the defense team here:
Sentencing on February 18 is expected to begin at noon with Michael Walli, followed by Greg Boertje-Obed at 2:00 and Megan Rice at 4:00pm.