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World Court Project  Sacred Earth & Space Ploughshares Case
Sacred Earth & Space Ploughshares Appeal
10th Circuit Court of appeals
October 1, 2004

Conclusion and requested relief on behalf of Sisters Carol Gilbert, Jackie Hudson and Ardeth Platte
By Anabel Dwyer, defense attorney and Board Member of LCNP

Sisters Carol Gilbert, Jackie Hudson and Ardeth Platte formed a Citizens Weapons Inspection Team to speak the straightforward truth that they had found a grotesquely illegal, criminal weapon of mass extermination on high-alert. On solid moral and legal grounds, they knew that non-violent nuclear disarmament was essential and that citizens could take non-violent and symbolic steps toward that end.

Before the Nuns acted, they had studied thoroughly. They presented to the court and prosecutors the uncontrollable horrors that the use of this nuclear weapon were known to inflict and how its high-alert status made the world*s collective future highly perilous. The Nuns had also studied thoroughly the intransgressible laws of war as applied to any threat or use of nuclear weapons, and presented the 1996 decisions of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on this issue. They studied how these laws of war were directly incorporated into the U.S. criminal code and the how certain treaties were designed to implement them. They knew that the ICJ had concluded that there was a legal solution when it found, "[t]here exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control." (Legality of Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, ICJ, 8 July 1996, 105(2)F.) They took hope in this finding, its consistency with basic principles of morality and in the U.S.*s agreement to "unequivocal undertakings" to eliminate its nuclear arsenal at the 2000 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. But after September 11, 2001, the Nuns observed how the United States flouted the laws of war and formal promises in increasingly dangerous ways. They decided to show how open, non-violent declaration and inspection could lead to obligatory non-violent nuclear disarmament one weapon at a time.

That citizens might assume responsibility for a positive role in achieving non-violent nuclear disarmament may have been novel or even daring, but the legal and practical reasonableness of open declaration and inspections was a well established means of successfully achieving nuclear disarmament. In short, the Nuns objectively knew that any high-alert threat to use any nuclear weapon anywhere imposed terror of global magnitude. In good-faith, these Sisters understood that adherence to the laws of war required non-violent nuclear disarmament and provided a possible way out. The beauty of their simple, non-violent, symbolic, responsible acts to address and end this nation*s own wrongs gave citizens a lawful way beyond escalating war crimes and genocide. There is a certain irony in three Nuns elucidating positive rules of U.S. and international law and knowing that the rule of human, man-made law is not impotent or silent in the face of the most egregious violations of those binding, peremptory laws of war.
The evidence on the record shows serious overreaching by the government. This Court must establish that the government cannot be permitted to impose retribution through prosecution; rather, this Court should ensure fairness and equity for those who, in a non-violent manner, attempt to seek resolution of conflicts of even the most serious kind. The over-zealousness of this prosecution and unfair trial and punishment cannot stand. It is not worthy of this great democracy in which certain specified legal limits to threat or use of force and due process of law are basic tenets.

This Court should reverse Sisters Gilbert*s, Hudson*s and Platte*s sabotage convictions on Count 1 and dismiss this count for insufficiency of the evidence. If the Court does not so dismiss Count 1, this Court should reverse these convictions and remand the case to the trial court for a new trial with instructions to the district court to use an appropriate definition of "national defense" and to give a good faith defense jury instruction.

DATED this 17th day of September, 2004


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