MAGISTRATE SAYS DEFENDANTS MAY NOT TELL THE WHOLE TRUTH •
JUDGE SET STATUS CONFERENCE FOR APRIL 3 ||
28 March 2013 (Knoxville, TN) •
Federal Magistrate G. Clifford Shirley handed down a second set of recommendations on Wednesday, March 27, in response to motions by the prosecution and defense in the Transform Now Plowshares case. In the recommendations, Magistrate Shirley granted two defense requests in part:
• The government, having alleged that Greg Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice and Michael Walli harmed or intended to harm the national defense when the entered the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex on July 28, 2012 in an act of nonviolent civil resistance, must disclose how their action harmed the national defense.
• The defendants, since they are charged with intending to harm the national defense of the United States, must be allowed to testify as to their intent. They are not allowed to speak of their motive.
The two parts of the ruling favorable to the defendants relate to the most serious of the charges against them, the sabotage charge, which carries a penalty of up to 25 years in prison. For 83 year old Sister Megan Rice, that sentence would effectively be a life sentence.
Excepting the two partial rulings above, the magistrate denied almost all other motions and requests by the defense—he did require the government to turn over some records related to the security response on July 28—and granted every request by the prosecution.
The effect of Magistrate Shirley’s recommendations, if upheld by the trial judge, will be to gag the defendants and deny them most of the possible defenses available to them. They are precluded from making an argument based on necessity; they are denied a justification defense; they are not to speak about international law or the obligations of citizens under the Nuremberg principles; they are not to speak of their religious faith or their good motive; they are not allowed to invoke the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Meanwhile, the case of the Transform Now Plowshares trio was reassigned to Federal District Judge Amul Thapar on March 15, 2013. Judge Thapar has scheduled a status conference with all parties for 9:30am on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 in Knoxville, TN. The continuing calendar for the case should become clear at that hearing; at this time it is not known if the trial will take place on May 7 as previously scheduled or not.
for more information on this update: Ralph Hutchison 865 776 5050
for other information: www.transformnowplowshares.wordpress.com