Left to right: Doug Rawlings, Henry Braun, Jim Freeman, Dud Hendrick, Rob Shetterly and Jon Kreps. (Photo used with permission. © V. Kelly Bellis)
Six members of Maine's Civil Disobedience and Occupation Project went on trial at 9:00, Tuesday, April 29, 2008, at Penobscot Superior Court on Hammond Avenue in Bangor, Maine. The six people were charged with "criminal trespass" for refusing to leave the office of U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building on Harlow Street, in Bangor, on March 7, 2007, four years after the U.S. led invasion of Iraq.
Following jury selection on Monday, April 28, testimony lasted until 3:30 pm on Tuesday. Wednesday saw the state and the defendants present their closing arguments, and the judge gave the jury instructions regarding the law in the case.
Doug Rawlings was defended in court by attorney Phil Worden (pictured below); Jonathan Kreps and Henry Braun were defended by attorney Lynne Williams (pictured below). Defendants Robert Shetterly, Dud Hendrick, and Jim Freeman defended themselves.
|From left: Lynne Williams, Doug Rawlings, John Kreps, Phil Worden, Henry Braun and Dud Hendrick. (Photo used with permission. © V. Kelly Bellis)
We owe these folks an extreme debt of gratitude for seeing this whole, very stressful process through to its precedent setting conclusion. Originally the group so often referred to as the "Bangor Six" was the "Bangor Twelve" as there were twelve people who were arrested on March 7, 2007. Six of those people were not able to follow the process through due to schedules, etc., and opted to pay fines. The "admission of guilt" was not part of their opting out however.
Profound gratitude must also be expressed for the outstanding work done by the two attorneys, Lynne
Williams and Phil Worden. There was no doubt that they were all acting as part of a team, and the attorneys were well researched and very well prepared.
As were each of the defendants. Much evidence concerning individual conscience, the U.S. Constitution, the Nuremberg Trials, international law, and personal experiences were presented to the men and women on the jury. Emotional testimony regarding the fate of returning American soldiers, soldiers killed in Iraq, and the fate of the Iraqi people was given.
The courage of the defendants and the attorneys in the Penobscot Superior Court in Bangor, Maine has inspired us all. Thank you for standing in for every one of us.
Jury acquits six in protest
BANGOR, ME- Today, jurors in the Case of the 'Bangor Six', the veterans for peace anti-war protestors arrested in the Margaret Chase Federal Building in protest of Senator Susan Collins for her refusal to end the war funding and occupation, brought back a decisive verdict of 'not guilty'. Speaking as a juror, Derek Gordon said that the jurors felt that this case was "a good thing, that it got the message across peacefully."
This is a divergence from the pattern set by previous cases; in October '03, two people were arrested for occupying Senator Collin's office, in an occupation similar to the one by the current six protestors, and were judged guilty of criminal trespass in that previous case.
The instructions to the jury in the current case were changed during the trial, which allowed the juror to decide whether the defendants knowingly violated Maine law, in their decision to remain in the building to visit Senator Collins. The protestors had hoped to show her 23 pictures of Maine's military who died in the Iraq war.
The jury was allowed by the judge to decide whether the defendants believed that they were not guilty in making a conscious choice to break Maine law because they thought international law was being violated. The jurors decided unanimously that the protestors did believe they had the 'license and privilege' to act as they did, in rendering the 'not guilty' verdict.
Following the court victory, the defendents—Doug Rawlings, Dud Hendrick, Jon Kreps, Jim Freeman, Rob Shetterly and Henry Braun—celebrated with their lawyers, Phil Worden and Lynne Williams, and friends and supporters. "This is what we do—this is how good we can be," said Shetterly, speaking about the trial results.
Judge Michaela Murphy presided over the hearing. Campaigns for Tom Ledue and Laurie Dobson were present at a rally held in behalf of the protestors, which was attended by anti-war activists from across the country. Ralph Nader's campaign issued a statement of support, as did Military Families Speak Out, an anti-war military family's organization and Veterans for Peace.
Jurors, advised by the judge not to 'surrender an honest conviction', appeared pleased with the decision. "A good thing was done here today," said Emily Herrold, one of the jurors in the trial, who left the courthouse smiling.
Veterans For Peace
William Ladd Chapter
P.O. Box 10
Deer Isle, ME 04627