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St. Patrick's Four

SEPTEMBER 22, 2005
11:31 AM

CONTACT:  St. Patrick's Four
Irene Weiser
SP4 Support Team
607-435-3010 cell

Tarik Abdelazim
SP4 Support Team Coordinator
607-651-9109 office
607-239-1219 cell

Judge Charges St. Patrick's Four with Contempt

WASHINGTON - September 22 - The federal government flexed it's muscles on this first day of testimony by peace activists, charging two defendants with contempt of court, and interpreting the charges in the indictment to make it easier for the prosecution to attain a conviction.

Senior U.S. District Judge Hon. Thomas J. McAvoy charged Peter DeMott and Teresa Grady with contempt of court for testifying about the fact that there was a previous trial.

McAvoy previously informed the defendants they were forbidden from testifying on a laundry list of topics including: the illegality of the Iraq war, international law and its relevance to their actions, the mandates in the Geneva Convention, the Doctrine of Necessity, facts or statistics about the Iraq war, descriptions of the damages or deaths caused by war, descriptions of what defendants had seen when they traveled to Iraq, and more. They were also prohibited from testifying about their previous State court trial, which ended in a mistrial, with nine of twelve jurors favoring acquittal.

Following a round of questioning by U.S. Assistant Attorney Miroslav Lovric that one observer called "McCarthy-like," DeMott was charged with an additional count of contempt when he refused to name possible other co-conspirators.

Finally, on a technical matter of tremendous significance concerning a difference in wording in the Grand Jury indictment, versus the wording in the code of law on which the indictment is based, McAvoy ruled in a way that makes it much easier for the government to obtain a conviction.

"The Government has charged the defendants with crimes based on a rarely used statute, so there isn't guiding case law telling us how the statute should be applied," said Bill Quigley, acclaimed public interest lawyer and law professor at Loyola University School of Law, who is acting as legal advisor to the defendants. "But the implications of the judge's rulings today should not be underestimated. The government has disregarded the defendants' rights to due process and in effect, changed the language of the indictment after trial has begun. Further, the government has taken what would have been considered a State level misdemeanor offense that would result in 6 months local jail time and literally crafted federal law to fit, that, if convicted, will now result in 6 years incarceration in Federal prison. The effect this will have on the public's right to dissent - a cornerstone of our democracy - is absolutely chilling."

The indictment says that the defendants are charged with conspiracy, "for the purpose of inducing by force, intimidation, AND threat, officers of the United States to leave the place where their duties. are required to be performed, AND for the purpose of injuring officers of the United States.on account of their lawful discharge of duties.AND for the purpose of injuring officers.while engaged in the lawful discharge of their duties.AND for the purpose of injuring the officers. so as to molest, interrupt, hinder, AND impede them from the discharge of their duties."

In contrast, the actual statute, Title 18, United States Code, Section 372 uses the disjunctive OR in each of the above instances where AND is indicated.

Despite the fact that Lovric wrote and signed the indictment with the AND language, Lovric argued that OR was intended. McAvoy agreed, and ruled that the OR language would apply. The implications of this ruling strongly favor the Government, which now must prove that only one of the four above transgressions occurred, whereas with the conjunctive AND the government would have had to prove that all had occurred.

Further, the actual statute indicates that the "use of force, intimidation or threat" clause is to be considered as a component for each form of transgression, whereas today McAvoy ruled that the "force, intimidation or threat" clause only applied to the first transgression of inducing an officer to leave the place where duties are performed. To prove the other transgressions, McAvoy has ruled that no proof of force, intimidation or threat is required. This interpretation also makes it easier for the Government to attain conviction.

On St. Patrick's Day 2003, two days before the US military invasion of Iraq began, four peace activists, all parents and members of the Ithaca Catholic Worker movement, entered their local military recruiting station, knelt, said a prayer for peace and then carefully poured a small amount of their blood on recruiting center posters, walls and flag to symbolize the violence of war and the sanctity of life.

The first federal conspiracy trial against war protesters since the Vietnam war, resumes Thursday 9:30 am in the Binghamton Federal Courthouse Building.

To view indictment:

To view Title 18 Unites States Code Section 372 see


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