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February 7th Motions Hearing

The defense lawyers did a great job today at the motions hearing in Knoxville. The most recent motions submitted by Bill Quigley in January (see Legal Arguments) are being considered by the magistrate judge and were not addressed today by the defense or the prosecution.

Francis Lloyd, counsel for Sister Megan Rice, argued to dismiss the sabotage charge, based on the fact that Y-12 is not a national defense facility. The judge asked both sides tough questions and did not indicate a leaning.

Mr. Lloyd then asked, in the event the sabotage charge isn’t dismissed, for the prosecution to present a bill of particulars—an explanation of what exactly the defendants did that constitutes sabotage. The judge agreed that a bill of particulars would be unusual, but also seemed to agree this is an unusual case. “It’s not unique,” argued Mr. Theodore, the prosecutor. “Have we ever had one before?” asked the judge. “Not here,” said Mr. Theodore. “Then it’s unusual for me,” the judge said. In the end the judge pushed the prosection, “I know it’s unusual, and I’m not ruling, but if I did, in this one case, just this one unusual case, would it injure your prosecution? Don’t we all already know what you will say? Couldn’t I answer the question?” Mr. Theodore actually started to outline things in his response and the judge interrupted, “I’m not asking you to answer now, I’m asking you if there really is any harm in answering, just this one time.”

Finally, the question of intent was raised. Mr. Lloyd argued very well that the prosecution can’t have it both ways. If they charge intent, they have to allow some testimony as to intent. Mr. Theodore and the judge seem to agree that intent is specific, as opposed to motive which is broad and about nuclear weapons policy. “Isn’t that really about trial management?” asked the judge. Mr. Lloyd said he feared the issue would be lurking if the judge didn’t decide, and that the prosecution would try to infer intent from conduct and not allow testimony. “Is that what you are planning?” the judge asked the prosecutor. “No, we won’t do that,” he answered.

Meanwhile, Greg, Megan, and Michael have been traveling around the Knoxville area, building connections with the community and sharing their vision for a nuclear-free world.  They have spoken at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, at the University of Tennessee, and at Maryville College, among other places.  Sister Megan reports that they have been seriously listened to, and that excellent questions have been raised for discussion and reflection.

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