Worcester Telegram & Gazette News Paper
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Judge denies motion by Catholic Worker Movement
Group faces charges for prayer protest at courthouse
By Lee Hammel TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
WORCESTER— A federal magistrate judge has denied a motion for a
"necessity defense" for five people in the Catholic Worker Movement
charged with obstructing the U.S. District courthouse when they prayed
there for an end to the war in Iraq .
The group had argued that it was necessary to violate the law to
prevent a greater evil.
Magistrate Judge Timothy S. Hillman ruled that the defendants had
other legal alternatives to the prayer meeting they held at 8:25 a.m.
March 19 in the Donohue Federal Building . He also ruled that they
could not use a necessity defense because they did not show, as they
contended, that the prayer meeting could have the tangible, immediate
effect of saving the lives of Iraqi civilians or U.S. soldiers in
They also did not show that their action would have an impact on U.S.
policy in Iraq , the judge ruled. Charged with the petty offenses —
which are less serious than felonies or even misdemeanors — of failure
to comply with the lawful direction of U.S. marshals, obstructing use
of the entrances of the courthouse, and impeding government employees
are: Scott C. Schaeffer-Duffy, Michael D. Benedetti, Kenneth J.
Hannaford-Ricardi, Sandra M. McSweeney and Roger P. Stanley.
Even if officials of the marshals service and the U.S. Attorney's
Office misinformed them prior to their arrest or failed to inform them
of whether they needed a permit and where to get it, Judge Hillman
ruled that the defendants were responsible for complying with the law
and getting the required permit from the General Services
Administration, which is the building superintendent.
Judge Hillman quoted a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion stating:
"Civil disobedience can be an act of great religious and moral courage
and society may ultimately benefit. But if the law being violated is
constitutional, the worthiness of one's motives cannot excuse the
violation in the eyes of the law."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Karin M. Bell said the defendants' citing of a
1991 New York City Criminal Court opinion that a necessity defense is
permitted where legal alternatives exist but have proved ineffective
is irrelevant because it is directly contradicted by a 2001 1st
Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the defense is not permitted
where legal alternatives exist but have proved ineffective.
A bench trial before Judge Hillman is scheduled for Sept. 23.
Published on Saturday, July 26, 2008 by Associated Press
New Zealand Students Offer New Bounty For Arrest of Condoleezza Rice For War Crimes
by Ray Lilley
WELLINGTON, New Zealand - A group of New Zealand students offered a higher reward Saturday for the citizen’s arrest of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for war crimes after another group withdrew their own bounty, accusing police of threatening them.
Students at Victoria University in the capital, Wellington , doubled the original reward offer to US$7,400, according to Joel Cosgrove, the student president.
Cosgrove said Rice should be arrested because she is responsible for the deaths of at least 600,000 Iraqis killed since the 2003 invasion by U.S.-led coalition troops.
“Condoleezza Rice needs to be tried before the international war crimes tribunal,” Cosgrove told New Zealand ’s National Radio.
The new bounty came a day after the Auckland University Students’ Association made a formal complaint to local police seeking Rice’s arrest for “overseeing the illegal invasion and continued occupation” of Iraq in violation of the Geneva Conventions.
The Auckland students offered a reward of 5,000 New Zealand dollars (US$3,700), but late Friday withdrew the bounty. Student President David Do said authorities had threatened criminal charges for anyone trying to make a citizen’s arrest.
“It is unfortunate the police have threatened students for essentially a form of peaceful protest and civil disobedience,” Do said.
Superintendent Brett England, the district police commander in Auckland , New Zealand ’s biggest city, warned anyone attempting to penetrate the security around Rice would be punished.
“The consequences of such a security threat could be very serious indeed,” England said.
Rice, asked about the demonstration at a news conference Friday, said “student protests are particularly a long-honored tradition in democratic society.”
“I can only say that the United States has done everything that it can to end this war on terror, to live up to our international and national laws and obligations,” Rice said.
About 70 people protested Saturday outside Government House, where Rice was meeting with Prime Minister Helen Clark.
© 2008 Associated Press