This is the fourth report from federal court in Knoxville, TN on the Transform Now Plowshares case.
At least a dozen supporters gathered before Judge Shirley in federal court in Knoxville, TN, at 9:30am on Thursday, August 9, 2012, mindful of the people of Nagasaki who perished in the atomic bombing of that Japanese city sixty-seven years ago. We were in court for the proceedings against the three people whose courageous witness, Transform Now Plowshares, sought to bring attention and justice to the continuing production of nuclear weapons at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Judge Shirley began by announcing that a grand jury had handed down an indictment charging the Plowshares activists with three counts:
1. aiding and abetting each other in the depredation of federal property at the Y12 National Security Complex and causing damage in excess of $1,000 (maximum penalty 10 yrs imprisonment and $250K fine);
2. aiding and abetting in each other in the damage or injury or planned damage or injury to real or personal property at the Y12 National Security Complex (maximum penalty 5 yrs. imprisonment and $250K fine);
3. trespass on the Y12 National Security Complex (maximum penalty 1 year imprisonment; $100K fine).
Special assessments totaling $250 are added to each defendant, along with the possibility of supervision after completion of any prison sentence for up to 3 years.
The charges were not a great surprise. After reading the indictment the judge indicated the hearing would now turn into an arraignment. He reaffirmed the appointment of counsel for each defendant and asked for pleas. Mike Walli and Megan Rice pled “Not Guilty,” Greg Boertje-Obed offered an initial plea “for the disarming of all weapons and hearts.” The judge asked him again to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Greg pled “for the transforming of our nation and the world.” Frustrated, the judge reminded Greg of the rules governing the court and threatened to revoke his self-representation unless he “conducted himself properly” by conforming to the rules of the court. Greg said he wanted to enter a “creative plea;” the judge said that was not possible under the rules of the court, and Greg pled not guilty.
The judge said Mike and Megan would be allowed to remain free until trial, noting the government’s exception to his ruling, and that Greg would remain in custody. Both Mike and Mega will be traveling to the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington, DC on Saturday, August 10. Supporters can write to them at 503 Rock Creek Church Rd NW, Washington, DC 20010.
Magistrate Judge Shirley noted that, with the handing down of an indictment, the actual trial would be handled by US Judge Thomas Phillips, but Shirley will continue to preside over the preliminaries.
A revamped schedule was developed:
October 10: Trial
August 16 (w/leniency): Discovery
The judge had a bench conference at the request of the prosecution about the discovery. A later comment by Megan’s attorney, Francis Lloyd, intimated that the government may be considering a contention that some discoverable material can not be seen by the counsel and defendants; the judge said that would be ruled on if/when such a motion were made.
September 4: Motions cut off
September 17: Response to Gov’t motions
September 18: Pretrial conference/motions hearing (if necessary) 9:00am
Reciprocal discovery deadline
The last thing before adjournment was the dismissal of the earlier charges filed by the government in lieu of the indictments handed down by the grand jury.