8 August 2003
3 nuns appeal convictions in missile protest
By Howard Pankratz,
Denver Post


Three Dominican nuns sentenced to prison for raiding a Minuteman III nuclear missile silo in Weld County have appealed their case.

A federal jury in April convicted the nuns of obstructing national defense and damaging government property.

The three - Carol Gilbert, Jackie Hudson and Ardeth Platte - claimed they were engaged in civil resistance against U.S. policy, which they said promotes world domination.

Lawyer Scott Poland said the three set the appeals process in motion by filing notices of appeal with the U.S. District Court in Denver this week.

Those notices automatically trigger an appeal, which will be transferred to the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Poland said.

He said the nuns, who were sentenced to terms ranging from 30 months for Hudson, 68, to 41 months for Platte, 67, never had a desire to serve prison time.

"I think they knew it that it was probable based upon their expectation of what the trial judge would do," Poland said Thursday. "But I would disagree with the characterization they wanted to go to prison.

"Certainly, they had no hope or desire to go there, and they are dreading it."

The nuns have been separated while they await room in a federal prison. Poland said Platte is in the Clear Creek County Jail in Georgetown; Hudson is in the Washington County Jail in Akron; and Gilbert, 55, who was sentenced to 33 months, is in the Teller County Jail in Cripple Creek.

Poland said the three nuns' appeal will probably attack a decision by U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn barring them from using the Nuremberg and international law defenses at their trial.

"They had a number of affirmative defenses that would have provided a legal justification for their conduct had they been permitted to argue them and had the jury been convinced they were justified in taking their action," Poland said.

Poland that the nuns will likely appeal Blackburn's decision that prevented them from calling witnesses to show "that these weapons (the Minuteman III missiles) are in violation of the laws of war."

Poland said the nuns plan to read the transcripts from the motions hearing - where the admissibility of the affirmative defenses were argued - and the trial transcripts.

They will then make the decision just how far they want to take the appeal in the 10th Circuit, Poland said. They could decide to just "let it go," he said.

Federal judges have repeatedly rejected the international law and Nuremberg defenses.

( Other reports on 3 ploughshares nuns here )

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