Thomas More Society to Pursue Further Discovery from Notre Dame Officials in Criminal Trespass Cases Against the 'ND88
July 22, 2010
SOUTH BEND, Ind., (christiansunite.com) -- This week, another pretrial hearing was held in St. Joseph County Criminal Court involving the criminal trespass charges that the University of Notre Dame and the county prosecutor continue to press against the "ND88." In a key ruling, Chief Judge Michael Scopelitis confirmed that Thomas More Society attorneys may take a deposition of a Notre Dame official, the former Director of Residential Life at the University.
The ND88, a group of pro-life demonstrators including Alan Keyes, Norma McCorvey and Fr. Norman Weslin, were arrested on Notre Dame's campus in May 2009, while praying the rosary, singing religious hymns and bearing peaceful, prayerful witness to the sanctity of life as part of a demonstration against Notre Dame's honoring of President Barack Obama during its Commencement exercises.
Tom Dixon, Thomas More Society special counsel and lead defender for the ND88, deposed Notre Dame's campus security chief last month. The deposition of the former Director of Residential Life, whose job included the direct supervision of the campus police and the protest policies on campus, intends to reveal whether pro-gay rights and anti-military protesters were treated more leniently than the ND88 in the University's reaction to the different groups' protesting activities. The court may eventually hear testimony that Notre Dame allegedly engaged in viewpoint discrimination by prosecuting only pro-lifers while allowing others without allegedly requisite written permits to demonstrate without penalty. ND88 lawyers allege selective enforcement of the trespass law in violation of the defendants' constitutional rights.
Also subject to inquiry are news reports that the former Residential Life Director, known to be a strong pro-lifer, had been fired last month (although it now appears that he remains employed, albeit in another role).
The prosecutor also asked Judge Scopelitis to require that all the defendants return to South Bend for each and every court hearing leading up to their trials, and to try defendants together in groups, although each was named in a separate criminal trespass complaint. Dixon opposed both of these motions. A ruling on both motions is expected shortly. Additionally, ND88 attorneys were confirmed to renew their request for "global" dismissal of all charges against all the ND88 defendants.
Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of Thomas More Society, commented, "We are proud to have engaged Tom Dixon, a Notre Dame alumnus, heroic pro-lifer, and skilled Indiana lawyer, to lead the defense. We also welcome the new lawyers who have joined our ND88 defense team and who will help us take each and every one of these cases through jury trials, if we can't sooner dispose of them." Chris Ferrara, Dennis Brenan, and Michael Hirsh from the American Catholic Lawyers Association, have joined the ND88 defense team.
About the Thomas More Society
Founded in 1997, the Thomas More Society is a national public interest law firm that exists to restore respect for life in law. Based in Chicago, the Thomas More Society defends the sanctity of human life, the family and religious liberty in courtrooms across the country. The Society is a nonprofit organization wholly supported by private donations. For more information or to support the work of Thomas More Society, please visit www.thomasmoresociety.org