Sister Megan Rice with Michael Walli, 68, a veteran and Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, a carpenter face decades in prison for protest against nuclear weapons
We continue to ask for your support and help. On October 1, we received word that Judge Amul Thapar denied the motion to dismiss the sabotage conviction as well as denied the motion for a new trial. For complete background information please visit www.transformnowplowshares@
In his ruling dismissing the defense Rule 29 motion and upholding the sabotage conviction for the Transform Now Plowshares resisters, Judge Amul Thapar has left the door open for the government to argue for the maximum thirty year sentence.
The pre-sentencing reports prepared by the Probation Office are likely to recommend sentences ranging up to 12 years—the recommendations take into account the record of past convictions, so Megan, Michael and Greg are likely to each have a different range; Greg, for instance, has indicated his guideline range is 6.5-8 years. For Greg, any sentence less than six and a half years would represent a downward departure.
Judge Thapar’s ruling included a statement that the nature of the offense has to be taken into account at sentencing1, suggesting he may be open to consider a “downward departure” from the pre-sentencing report’s guidelines.
While we all believe that the real criminal and dangerous activity lies in the ongoing work of Y-12, and that Michael, Greg and Megan should be released immediately from jail, we also know that this is a very unlikely scenario. The reality is the three will remain incarcerated for some additional amount of time. They never asked for nor expected a “get out of jail free” card. Instead, they offered their lives and freedom freely and without expectation. By asking for downward departures, they are in fact giving the judge the opportunity, a gift so to speak, to recognize the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law and for him to publicly proclaim his humanity and compassion by granting a downward departure from guideline sentences that can range up to 12 years.
The TNP support team therefore asks that letters to Judge Thapar continue and should encourage him to sentence with downward departures from the high sentencing guidelines which can range up to 12 years. Even if you’ve written a letter in the past or sent in a pre-written postcard, you can still write another. They seem to have an effect as Judge Thapar has referred to the high volume of letters and postcards and he has posted a few on legal record himself.
Please continue to send your letters to:
US District Judge Amul R Thapar c/o Professor Bill Quigley Loyola Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice 7214 St. Charles Avenue Campus Box 902 New Orleans, LA 70118
Please feel free to post and share this statement on your facebook page. Peace, the TNP support team.
1 “The defendants’ non-violence thus does not affect the question facing the Court today: whether a reasonable jury could find the defendants guilty. Of course, the defendants’ non-violence will be relevant at sentencing, since the Court must account for both the “nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics” of the defendants. See 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(1). Given the obvious differences between the defendants and the paradigmatic saboteur, those factors surely will be worthy of discussion. But because those differences do not lessen the defendants’ liability under § 2155(a), the Court denies the defendants’ Rule 29 motion.” [Memorandum Opinion and Order, US District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, Northern Division, Knoxville; 1 October 2013]