The September 15, 2015 resentencing of Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed on their remaining depredation conviction for their July 2012 Transform Now Plowshares action at the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, TN, will be held by teleconference according to Judge Amul Thapar.
Bill Quigley sent an email to supporters today noting the prosecution has indicated it will NOT ask for more prison time. The three have already served more time than sentencing guidelines recommend for this offense. Quigley reported the prosecution does intend to ask for an extended period of probation, from one to three years.
Attorneys representing Greg, Megan and Michael, including Quigley, will ask the judge to forgo probation and to drop the restitution required in the original sentencing as well.
The Transform Now Plowshares activists were originally convicted of two charges—depredation of government property and sabotage; the latter carried a heavier sentence. Because of the sabotage conviction, the three were immediately remanded to federal custody and were not eligible for parole or bond while their appeal was pending.
The sixth circuit court of appeals heard oral arguments earlier this year and, in May, overturned the sabotage conviction and vacated the sentences for both charges, noting the prison time served already exceeded the recommended sentence for the depredation charge, hence the re-sentencing. The three were released on recognizance within a week of the appeals court’s ruling.
Francis Lloyd, counsel for Megan Rice, has filed her sentencing memo with the court in advance of the sentencing of the Transform Now Plowshares prisoners. Rice is scheduled to appear before Judge Amul Thapar in Knoxville, TN, on Tuesday, January 28, 2014, along with her colleagues Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli, to be sentenced for their July 28, 2012 action at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The sentencing memo can be found here:
by John LaForge, Nukewatch
Three pacifists that snuck into the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex last summer are preparing for their Feb. trial, and face the prospect that any mention of nuclear weapons will be forbidden.
Y-12 is the 811-acre site in Oak Ridge, Tenn. that’s been building H-bombs and contaminating workers and the environment since 1945. On July 28, Sister Megan Rice, 82, of New York City, Michael Walli, 63, of Washington, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, of Duluth, snipped through fences and walked up to the new Highly Enriched Uranium Materials building. They unfurled banners, painted “Woe to and Empire of Blood” etc., poured blood on the place, prayed and broke bread.
Now they face felony charges that carry a maximum of $500,000 in fines and 15 years in prison. Additionally, in an apparent attempt to scare them into pleading guilty now, federal prosecutors have mentioned bringing two heavier charges, including sabotage “during wartime,” which together carry up to 50 years.
Yet as with previous cases of symbolic damage to nuclear war systems, a Kangaroo Court is being arranged in advance. If the government gets it way, the trial judge will keep facts about nuclear weapons away from jurors and make sure that questions about the Bomb’s outlaw status are left out of jury instructions. Instructions are the jurors’ marching orders, the last thing they hear before starting deliberations.
On Nov. 2, federal prosecutors led by U.S. Attorney William Killian offered a motion “in limine,” urging U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley to “preclude defendants from introducing evidence in support of certain justification defenses.” The motion asks the court to forbid all evidence — even expert testimony — about “necessity, international law, Nuremberg Principles, First Amendment protections, the alleged immorality of nuclear weapons, good motive, religious moral or political beliefs regarding nuclear weapons, and the U.S. government’s policy regarding nuclear weapons.” The “basis” for excluding evidence regarding the threatened use of our H-bombs is that it is “not relevant.”
Volunteer defense attorneys have submitted a detailed memo to the contrary, arguing that interference with and even defacing and damaging nuclear war plans is a legitimately excusable “lesser harm” that prevents an indisputably greater one. The lawyers, Bill Quigley, Chris Irwin, Francis Lloyd and Kary Love, argue that forbidding a defense of necessity violates protesters’ rights. Citing case law from 2005, 1994, 1980 and 1976, they note that “In a criminal case it is reversible error for a trial judge to refuse to present adequately a defendant’s theory of defense,” and, “where a defendant claims an affirmative defense [necessity, crime prevention, etc.], and that ‘defense finds some support in the evidence and in the law,’ the defendant is entitled to have the claimed defense discussed in the jury instructions.”
It’s easy to show that necessity defenses are relevant, the memo notes, since the “burden is not a heavy one” and is met “even when the supporting evidence is weak or of doubtful credibility.” Nevertheless, as the prosecutor’s motion points out, “Courts have precluded defendants from presenting any evidence in support of such defenses at trial, including expert testimony.” Indeed, gag orders in similar cases have been upheld by the 9th, 8th, 7th and 11th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal. Judges and prosecutors have in fact placed nuclear weapons and war planning beyond the reach of the law — unlike assault rifles, poison gas or other contraband — as if H-bombs were sacrosanct, unquestionable, and too precious to be addressed by mere mortals.
In this case, Magistrate Shirley is expected to grant the stifling motion. He and Mr. Killian know that if jurors learn about the effects of nuclear attacks, about the law against planning massacres, and about U.S. plans for nuclear warfare, they would likely acquit the defendants. The U.S. Attorney’s motion even confesses, “[w]e do not suggest that the deployment of nuclear armament systems does not violate international law, but merely that Congress has power to protect government property….”
If a gag order from Magistrate Shirley follows suit with earlier nuclear weapons protest cases, the accused will again be denied the right to reasonably defend themselves. With the world clamoring for nuclear abolition, it won’t be the defense that’s irrelevant then, but the court system.
— John LaForge is a co-director of Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisc., and edits its Quarterly.
The Transform Now Plowshares want to tell the jury the truth, the WHOLE truth and nothing but the truth.
I’ve been preparing for more than a year, discussing with other people and then specifically Megan and Michael.
Many months ago, Megan learned about the Disarm Now Plowshares, and she went to the trial on the west coast, and that moved her to want to explore doing a similar type action. Because of the experience, all the expert witnesses they had, all the reasons why nuclear weapons are illegal.
And Michael has always felt that the rule of law is a key motivating factor for him. He believes strongly that nuclear weapons are illegal, and that we have a duty and an obligation, especially according to Nuremberg Principles, to take steps to intervene in war crimes of building nuclear weapons.
Was there any physical fitness preparation, did you expect this to be a rigorous…?
I did ask Megan to practice walking. Months in advance, you know, because she does lose breath when she walks a long distance. And she had been practicing.
But not cardboard boxes.
That’s a recent problem.
We take responsibility for what we did. We say, we are the people who did it, and we want to explain why we believe it was legal and the right thing to do.
In the early morning, 2:00, 2:30, whatever it may be, on July 28th, that morning — can you say, I think we talked somewhat about this, but I’m not sure — did someone actually drop you off at a certain point?
That’s another thing that we say: the Spirit led us there. And we don’t want to implicate other people who might have not wanted to be known.
It boils down to, nuclear weapons are designed to be of mass destruction. They are going to kill civilians. The intent of killing civilians is a war crime also. And preparing, just by building you are preparing for a war that will kill civilians.
Video by Michael Patrick, News Sentinel
Court Update from Ralph Hutchison:
Judge Shirley arrived in court a few minutes late for the Transform Now Plowshares hearing on Friday, September 7, but it gave us time to visit a bit with Greg Boertje-Obed when he arrived, in stripes and shackles, from Blount County Detention Center. Greg looked and sounded healthy, inquired about his co-defendants, and then settled into a conversation with his “elbow counsel.”
When the judge arrived, he declared that he would hear motions for a continuance in the case, originally scheduled for trial on October 9.
By the time it was over, he had made several rulings and established a new calendar. The trial is now scheduled for February 26, 2013, though it is not entirely clear that date will hold.
The motions were dispensed with in a straightforward hearing. The government did not object to the granting of a continuance, though they did dispute the request from the defendants that the case be designated “complex.” In the end, the judge said he would not designate the case “complex,” but he would also not agree it was not—the defense could come back and argue another day if necessary.
The prosecution told the court it had provided initial discovery and would be releasing the second (and likely final) batch of discovery materials today or Monday. The defendants suggested it was quite possible they would seek additional materials in discovery which might lead to hearings and even litigation. The judge urged them to see what was forthcoming and attempt to resolve any outstanding issues informally with the government and the defendants agreed.
As the 50 minute hearing drew to a close, the judge set new dates:
Note: Many may have already heard that Sister Megan Rice fell and suffered two broken wrists late last week. She is recovering; new casts have been placed on her wrists that enable her to use her fingers. Megan is seeking permission to relocate to Rosemont, PA where her community can better provide for her rehabilitation. The judge this morning indicated the decision rests with the probation office. If and when Megan moves, we will try to post updated contact info on this site and on the OREPA web site: www.orepa.org.
from: Ralph Hutchison
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As the afternoon wore on in Judge Clifford Shirley’s courtroom it seemed we might never get to the question of the day—would Mike Walli, Megan Rice and Greg Boertje-Obed continue to be held in Blount County Jail, or would Judge Shirley release them? Stay tuned…
As Judge Shirley began the proceedings, Francis Lloyd, counsel for Megan Rice, reported that hypothermia, possibly brought on by the failure to provide Megan with her medicine, might compromise her ability to participate in the hearing. Francis had already draped his raincoat over Megan. Court took a recess while officials scrambled to locate a blanket. In the end, Judge Shirley reappeared with a space heater to direct on Megan and a staff person found a sweater and blanket.
We began with the announcement that the government had submitted a new criminal complaint, charging a felony—that the defendants had, at a place within the special maritime or territory of the United States, namely the Y12 National Security Complex, did willfully and maliciously destroy or injure or attempt to destroy or injure a structure, conveyance, personal or real property. The new penalty is a $250,000 fine and not more than 5 years in prison; not more than 3 years supervised release; and a special assessment of $100. Continue reading
Sister Megan Rice was recorded by videographer Adam Brimer for the News Sentinel shortly after her release. Below is a rough transcription of the interview she gave.
Your assistance is much appreciated. You have the mission of spreading the truth. The truth will heal us and heal our planet, heal our diseases, which result from the disharmony of our planet caused by the worst weapons in the history of mankind, which should not exist. For this we give our lives — for the truth about the terrible existence of these weapons.
Which has only escalated in the last seventy years. I was aware of it before it was even made, because I was 82, when I was nine years old I was aware that a huge secret thing happening three minutes from where I lived in Manhattan. The man next door was a physicist and a mathematician, his name was Dr. [Seeley Katt?]. Next door, as near as that door is, to our apartment. We knew he was doing something secret in his work. He couldn’t even tell his wife what he was doing, nor his daughter. To me, that the first message that here must be something very evil happening, because how could a husband keep something secret from his wife or children, or vice versa. This secrecy has predominated this industry. This is why the whole country and whole world has not stopped it, it’s gone on for seventy years.
We have the power, and the love, and the strength and the courage to end it and transform the whole project, for which has been expended more than 7.2 trillion dollars. Which has gone into that which is only to be transformed and regretted.
Reconciliation is available. Relying on all people of good will, creation, god’s life, we are all sacred and we will together respond and keep our planet sacred, alive, whole and healthy by transforming this into sustainable alternatives — which exist. To create better jobs! a cleaner environment! and a future for the seventh generation.
When asked if it was easier to get onto the property than she thought it would be…
Far easier! We were led, miraculously. (pause) But it was difficult. But we had to — we were doing it because we had to reveal the truth of the criminality which is there, that’s our obligation.
How’s it feel to be free again today?
More empowered to continue with the great people of humanity and all creatures in transforming this into life-sustaining and enhancing alternatives.
The video ends with Mike exclaiming from the midst of a group hug:
Nuclear weapons will be eradicated as antichrist scourge from the earth soon! Isaiah will be vindicated, weapons will be destroyed, warmaking will be abolished!
From: Ralph Hutchison
A Day in Court • Transform Now Plowshares Trial Set
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Greg, Megan and Mike all appeared to be in good health and spirits as they came into Magistrate Judge G. Clifford Shirley’s courtroom in Knoxville, Tennessee, for what was supposed to be a preliminary hearing. Before the judge arrived, they spoke with their counsel, and we held up a copy of the newspaper’s bold headline: Y12 halts nuke operations. Greg saw it and smiled broadly; the lawyers for the others indicated they had made sure their clients knew.
When Judge Shirley came in, he informed the court that the government had chosen a different route than the preliminary hearing and was presenting a bill of information with the same charge as before—misdemeanor trespass. That meant we were starting over, sort of, and the judge went through the formalities of re-appointing attorneys, and we had a second initial appearance. It does appear Judge Shirley will be on the bench for the remainder of the proceedings.
After reviewing the information, the judge asked the defendants to enter pleas. Mike Walli spoke clearly, “Not guilty.” Megan Rice did the same, emphasizing the not. When asked for his plea, Greg said, “I plead justified because the building of nuclear weapons is a war crime.” The judge asked him to plead guilty or not guilty, and Greg responded, “I plead for the downtrodden around the world who suffer the consequences of our nuclear weapons.” The judge asked a third time for a formal plea and Greg said, “I plead for the children who need someone to intervene for them.” The judge said, “Fine, I will enter a plea of not guilty.” Continue reading
Michael Walli, Megan Rice and Greg Boertje-Obed made their initial appearance before federal magistrate Bruce Guyton in Knoxville, Tennessee at 11:15am today—Monday, July 30, 2012. The proceedings were nearly over before Greg required the judge to read the charges against them—the trio were charged with criminal trespass, a misdemeanor, for their Transform Now Plowshares action on Saturday, July 28 at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
In court, the defendants were calm and composed. They spoke clearly, answering the judge’s questions directly. It was a pro forma hearing until the judge asked them each if they had a chance to review the complaint against them.
“Yes,” answered Mike Walli, the first to be questioned. Do you have any questions, the judge asked. “I note the charge listed relates only to what I have done,” Mike said, “and does not include the illegal nuclear weapons production taking place at Y12.” Continue reading