Nukewatch Quarterly Summer 2014
On March 6 attorneys for the three Transform Now Plowshares activists who were sentenced to long prison terms in February announced that an appeal team was being assembled and moving forward.
The disarmament action of July 2012 resulted in felony property damage and sabotage convictions for Sr. Megan Rice, 83, Greg Boertje-Obed, 58, and Michael Walli, 65, who were sentenced to 35 months, 62 months and 62 months in federal prison respectively. The three senior citizens humiliated the nuclear weapons establishment generally, and National Nuclear Security Agency in particular, by reaching the “Fort Knox of Uranium” building at the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and painting slogans and hanging banners there after passing undetected through four fences.
The federal appeal will confront the sabotage conviction. Attorney Bill Quiqley says the sabotage charge is “an attempt to intimidate the defendants and others from doing symbolic disarmament actions at other nuclear facilities.”
Quigley, Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a professor of law at Loyola University, wrote to the three that the appeal will challenge the sabotage conviction “on the grounds that your open dedication to nuclear disarmament cannot be used as an element of ‘criminal intent.’”
A reversal of the sabotage conviction would require the three to return to court to be re-sentenced. Such an appeal victory could also make the US government less likely to charge it against other peace activists.
There is a risk that the government will choose to cross appeal and ask that the sentences be lengthened.
Volunteer lawyers, including Quigley, Anna Lellelid, and members of the influential Orrick law firm in New York, are studying the May 2013 trial transcripts and preparing to enroll as counsel in the Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. The circuit takes cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
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