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.
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
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
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
Arraignment proceedings took place this morning in Knoxville Federal Court for plowshares activists Michael Walli, Megan Rice, and Greg Boertje-Obed. In a concerted effort all three declared that charges facing the Y-12 were not addressed.
“Blessed are the peacemakers!” said Erik Johnson of Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA), audibly, as they entered the courtroom. After more than 48 hours detention not one appeared shaken.
They currently face one charge of federal trespass which carries a potential sentence of not more than one year imprisonment and not more than one year of supervised release as well as a maximum fine of $100,000. Preliminary information had indicated that a second felony charge of vandalism would be brought. Additional charges are possible as the legal process unfolds. Continue reading
Michael R. Walli (63), Megan Rice shcj (82), Greg Boertje-Obed, (57), succeeded in a disarmament action at the Oak Ridge Y-12 Nuclear facility before dawn today.
Calling themselves Transform Now Plowshares they hammered on the cornerstone of the newly built Highly-Enriched Uranium Manufacturing Facility (HEUMF), splashed human blood and left four spray painted tags on the recent construction which read: Woe to the empire of blood; The fruit of justice is peace; Work for peace not for war; and Plowshares please Isaiah.
Under the cover of darkness they intermittently passed beyond four fences in a walk for over two hours through the fatal force zone. “We feel it was a miracle; we were led directly to where we wanted to go” said Greg.
After navigating through the complex they came to a long, white, windowless building marked HEUMF. “It was built like a fortress”, Greg said describing the four guard towers.
Unimpeded by security, they attached two banners to pillars of the building. “Transform Now Plowshares” read the first with a green and black icon showing part bomb part flower. A second stated “Swords into Plowshares Spears into Pruning Hooks–Isaiah”. In addition, between the pillars they strung red crime tape.
When confronted by a guard they read aloud their statement. “He was on his walkie-talkie but he heard it” Megan confirmed. Before receiving orders to halt they had opportunity to offer guards bread, and display a bible, candles and white roses. Though initially forced to endure a kneeling posture for an extended period, guards responded to complaint and allowed the activists to stand off and on. Meanwhile they continued singing.
At this time they have been interviewed by the DOE investigative unit and have conditional charges of two felony counts for vandalism and trespass. They spoke to supporters from Blount County Jail at 12:30 pm saying they had not been processed yet. All four are scheduled for arraignment in Blount County Court on Monday.
“We’re still opposing the filthy rotten system” Michael said. “Jesus has no nukes in heaven and no torture in heaven.”
–Please Circulate Widely.–
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