Appeals Court upholds “Darfur” conviction unanimously

Got word today that the Appeals Court in DC voted unanimously to uphold the conviction of seven activists for civil disobedience at the Sudanese Embassy in 2005.

The defendants plan to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Update: Scott Schaeffer-Duffy adds, “This is what the court ruled:”

District of Columbia Court of Appeals senior judges Newman, Belson, and Warren King: Appellants appeal their convictions of incommoding for blocking the entrance to the Sudanese embassy in protest of that country’s policies in Darfur. They claim that the trial court erred in rejecting their defenses of necessity and justification under international law. We affirm.

Substantially for the reasons stated by the trail judge in his Findings of the Court, we are satisfied that the government presented sufficient evidence to establish a violation of DC criminal code 22-1307 and that the court properly rejected the defenses put forth. United States v. Maxwell, Emry v. United States, Reale v. United States, Shiel v. United States, Griffin v. United States, Morgan v. District of Columbia. [cititions omitted]. Accordingly, the judgments of conviction are affirmed.

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Update on “Darfur trial”

On November 6, 2007, three of the seven defendants convicted for civil disobedience in 2005 against the Darfur genocide went to Washington, DC, for oral arguments in an appeal of their case.

Yesterday, I talked to two of them, Ken Hannaford-Ricardi and Scott Schaeffer-Duffy, about how it went. The men are members of the Saints Francis & Therese Catholic Worker community in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Click here to listen to the conversation (mp3)

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Ken Hannaford-Ricardi and Scott Schaeffer-Duffy
Ken Hannaford-Ricardi and Scott Schaeffer-Duffy


Scott Schaeffer-Duffy: Darfur and the necessity defense

Today I talked with Catholic Worker Scott Schaeffer-Duffy, who’s been appealing the conviction of seven protestors who in 2005 blocked the Sudanese embassy in Washington, DC, to protest the Darfur genocide.

All of the briefs and motions have been filed, and with luck there will be “oral argument” of the appeal this summer. Scott talks about why he thinks his group is not guilty, and how he’ll convince the judges of that.

For more info, see Darfur Genocide on Trial.

You can download the mp3 (3MB) or see other formats. You can also subscribe (RSS) to the podcast.

defendants rejoice at being free to go
May 25, 2005: Tom Lewis, Harry Duchesne, Brian Kavanagh, Liz Fallon, Brenna Cussen, Ken Hannaford-Ricardi, and Scott Schaeffer-Duffy are happy to be outside after a day in D.C. Superior Court.

Darfur trial: appeal update

(Background: Darfur Genocide on Trial)

The brief for the appellants (former defendants) has been filed. It was about 38 pages long with a 29 page appendix.

The District Attorney’s Office of the District of Columbia has until the 2nd of February to file its brief and then the appellants have 15 days after that to file a rebuttal brief if they so desire.

After this, the DC Court of Appeals will schedule oral arguments before three judges in DC. Their ruling will come sometime in the following six months.

Robert Hollander, the attorney who advised the defendants at trial, said that he believes this appeal has a strong chance of success. If it prevails, and the verdict is overturned, this will be a major victory for the campaign against genocide in Darfur and also for activists who hope to use the necessity defense to justify nonviolent civil disobedience.

Many lower courts have upheld necessity, but no court of appeal has done so for cases of civil diosbedience. The precendent would be very significant.

Sudan Trial

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support. The trial of the “Sudan Seven,” as we have been referred to, was an incredible show of nonviolent witness at its best. I was honored to be a part of such a group. The Holy Spirit no doubt was speaking through the testimonies of witnesses Dr. Eric Reeves, Dr. Mark Lance, Mwiza Munthali, Barbara Wien, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, and each of the seven defendents as they each took the stand to testify to their area of expertise.
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Time Served

Seven American activists were found guilty of unlawful assembly today in D.C. Superior Court before Chief Judge Rufus King III. They were on trial for a February demonstration at the Sudanese embassy to protest the ongoing genocide in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

defendants rejoice at being free to go
May 25: Tom Lewis, Harry Duchesne, Brian Kavanagh, Liz Fallon, Brenna Cussen, Ken Hannaford-Ricardi, and Scott Schaeffer-Duffy are happy to be outside after a day in D.C. Superior Court. Click on the photo to download a high-resolution version.
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Pre-trial Summary

In December 2004, after reading media reports of mass killing, rape, and displacement of African civilians in the West Sudanese region of Darfur, a Catholic Worker Peace Team was formed. It included Brenna Cussen of South Bend, Indiana, Chris Douçot of Hartford, Connecticut, Grace Ritter of Ithaca, New York, and Scott Schaeffer-Duffy of Worcester, Massachusetts.Chris Douçot and Grace Ritter in Sudan with African chiefs and Arab sheiks

They visited four huge camps for “internally displaced people” in Darfur. Their observations confirmed the charge that the Sudanese government is guilty of genocide.
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Seven Arrested for Protesting Sudan Genocide

Seven people were arrested today at a noontime demonstration outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington DC, calling for an end to the Sudanese government’s campaign of genocide in Darfur. The demonstrators, who were carrying enlarged photos of Sudanese refugees, knelt in prayer along the steps to the embassy and were arrested an hour after their arrival by members of the Secret Service.
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