LANL 6 plan to appeal

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Courts > Judge will be asked to overturn earlier sentence

By Tris DeRoma

The attorney for a group of anti-nuclear demonstrators recently filed an appeal on their behalf, just weeks after being found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of obstructing movement and “refusing to obey an officer.”

“The motion asks Judge Kirk to reverse his decision and find the six defendants not guilty of obstructing movement and reduce the charge of refusing to obey an officer with time served with no probation, fines or costs,” Attorney Jeff Haas said in a written statement.

Haas said in court that technically, his clients did not block the roadway, since police formed a barrier around the group and redirected traffic to go around them. In his official appeal, Haas also noted that Los Alamos’ municipal code states that authorized roadblocks referred to physical objects such as signs and barriers, and not to people.

“The statute is clearly referring to a physical object that would be ‘placed or erected,’ and not to a person standing in the roadway,” Haas said.

In municipal court Jan. 8, Kirk sentenced the six protesters, assigning a $100 fine for each charge and added $41 in court costs plus a $60 probation fee. Together, each of the six was ordered to pay $342. The maximum penalty was 179 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.

On Aug. 6 2012, the six protesters were arrested during an anti-nuclear demonstration for obstructing traffic on the corner of Diamond Drive and West Jemez Road near the entrance to Los Alamos National Laboratory. Those arrested included Catherine Euler, Barbara Grothus, Cathie Sullivan, Benjamin Abbott, Pamela Gilchrist and Janet Greenwald.

Aug. 6 is known as “Hiroshima Day.” Aug. 6, 1945 is the day the first atomic bomb was used in warfare, in this case by the United States against Japan.

In his statement, Haas said he’s prepared alternatives to their sentences, if Kirk agrees to it.

“In the alternative, if Judge Kirk denies any part of this, the defendants are asking that he allow them to serve off their fines by doing community service with groups seeking to confront climate change and/or anti-nuke or environmental groups.”

If Kirk doesn’t agree to that, then Haas said the defendants will not pay the fines and will ask to do jail time “at the maximum credit per day.”

As of press time, Kirk had not seen the motion, according to municipal court administrator Lisa Zuhn. 

How about helping instead of hindering?

If the LANL 6 is so concerned about nuclear threat, there is much that can be done that is productive. They could get jobs in nonproliferation or stockpile stewardship. They could get jobs in simulation or physical protection. Granted, not everyone believes deterrence is part of the answer, but there are many many activities that go on to protect us all from nuclear threat that are not related to deterrence. These folks could even become UN volunteers. There are many constructive ways one could help make the world a little less risky. Blocking traffic and hassling people who devote their careers to reducing the threat is not productive and not helping. If you can't be part of the solution, at least don't become part of the problem. These people are dinosaurs, they are a bad example to our youth. The charges should stand, we do not want to encourage people to disrupt the system instead of finding productive ways to spend their energies. The LANL 6 should show a little respect for the people who work hard every day to make everyone's lives safer.