June 16 pre-trial hearing for federal “rosary arrest”

posted by Mike on June 5th, 2008

On Monday, June 16th at 2:30 p.m., five Roman Catholics, facing federal charges in the United States District Court at The Donohue Federal Building, 595 Main Street, Worcester, will argue for the right to put the Iraq War on trial.

The court requires two forms of ID if you want to enter the building.

The trial date had previously been set for June 17. After the judge rules on the defendants’ motions, a new trial date will be set.

In the first act of civil disobedience in Worcester for many years, they were arrested on March 19th, during Holy Week, after they entered the lobby of the same federal building in which they will be tried, knelt, and prayed the rosary for an immediate end to the Iraq War. At least five U.S. marshals and several Worcester police officers were called to the scene, but none of them interrupted the anti-war activists until they concluded their prayer with singing in Latin a hymn to the Virgin Mary and then reciting it in English.

They were charged with refusing a lawful order of a U.S. marshal and with obstructing the entrance to a U.S. courthouse, even though the activists positioned themselves so that no one was prohibited from entering the building. If convicted on both charges, they fact a maximum of $15,000 in fines.

At the hearing, the judge will hear arguments from the prosecution and the defense on motions they have filed to define the structure of the trial itself. The defendants will argue for the right to raise a necessity defense which excuses the breaking of lesser laws to prevent greater harm. The prosecution will argue for the exclusion of any reference to the Iraq War. The defense will argue for the right to introduce evidence and bring witnesses to substantiate their claim of necessity.

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