District Court, West Bath, ME
Maureen Webster Courtroom Notes

Wednesday, December 3, l997

About two dozen supporters were on hand to accompany Audrey, Jessica and Steve at the arraignment, plus their stand-by attorney, Seth Berner. Supporters included a large contingent from Plowshares support community in Portland-Bath area, New Hampshire (Peace Action), and students from College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor. The trio were the last to be arraigned in the court session, scheduled for l0:30 a.m., that began at l0:45 a.m.

ARRAIGNMENTS -- in general.

Judge of District Court: JOSEPH FIELD

Assistant D.A.: TURNDORF (The only "Suit"!)

Also: Two police officers (in informal civilian clothing, but with holstered guns)

Attorney of the day , Ms Gail Peabody (in boots and informal attire)


[We notice three naval personnel in the courtroom and speculate whether they have anything to do with our "trio". Turns out that one seaman is up on a charge of OUI (pleads guilty and takes his medicine, so to speak)and his two superiors are there to say he's a good guy].

Explanation of citizen rights. Prior to the series of arraignments at this session, Judge Field explained the ways in which rights differ depending on charges. There are misdemeanors, civil violations and felonies. (Rights in the last to be described as the relevant arraignments arise).

In the case of MISDEMEANORS, class C and D crimes

-- The maximum imprisonment is one year in state prison; the maximum fine is $2,000.

-- Cases are normally resolved in this court. If you want a jury trial you have to fill out a request form and file it within 21 days.

-- As to court appointed lawyers, if (1) there's a determination of the court that, if convicted, you are likely to go to jail; the statute you are charged with mandates it, etc. , then (2) If you request state appointed counsel, you go through an indigence screener


- Maximum is fine and potentially a license suspension

- Administrative rules of civil procedure apply.

- You have the right to take it to superior court and to jury trial. You complete the paperwork accompanied by $100 up front, non-refundable fee, plus if you want a jury trial in superior court there's $300 up front fee. You have to hire your own lawyer. The standard cases are possession of liquor/tobacco by minors, possession of marijuana, paraphernalia, etc.

In ALL cases

- Criminal cases -- Presumed innocent until proven guilty. Burden of proof on prosecution.

Civil -- proof by preponderance of the evidence.

- You have the right to silence.

- You have the right through counsel or self to cross-examine the state's witnesses and present witnesses yourself

- You have the right to take the stand and testify

- You have the right to decline to do so and this cannot be held against you.

- If convicted, you have the right of appeal -- on issues of law only.


- I [judge] will read the charge, ask how you plead.

- You may respond in one of three ways: Guilty, Not Guilty, No Contest. You plead Not Guilty if you contest the facts. - Every citizen has the right to address the Court prior to sentencing. Do it today.

- If you are uncertain what to do there is a Lawyer for the Day Program -- (Identifies Miss Gail Peabody)


Bench and DA -- re including Steve in this arraignment

Jessica and Audrey are called. Steven who has not been called, joins them

The Judge addresses Jessica first. She passes written note to the bench.

Judge reads it aloud -- to the effect : I will not proceed without Steve Cohen.

There is an exchange between Judge and Assistant D.A. on the matter. It's explained that the three are charged with the same offenses, committed on the same day, but that Steve's arraignment is scheduled for the 17th. Assistant D.A. says he has filed (late?) to allow them to be arraigned together. Judge says, in essence, Then get the papers -- which the D.A. does.

Bench and attorneys - re charges

There are charges of CRIMINAL MISCHIEF AND CRIMINAL TRESPASS -- two counts for each -- one set re. BIW property, the other regarding a ship of the U.S. Navy. The Judge raises a jurisdiction issue -- the appropriateness of charges about an offense that took place on a U.S. vessel being brought to this Court. The Assistant D.A. and the attorney of the day exchange fast opinions with Judge. [Seemed to be some question of when the ship was 'sold' to Navy--but I'm not clear about that--MW]

Jessica -- I plead innocent.

Judge--There's no such plea

Judge reads charges to Jessica. How do you plead?

Jessica, silent, holds up a card on which is printed:

I plead innocent.

I plead as representative of the silenced

For an end to weapons of mass destruction

I plead innocent.

On the reverse is a picture depicting victims of nuclear attack

Judge: [Reads the placard aloud]. There's no such thing as an innocence plea -- that's something the Church deals with. Guilty or Not guilty?

Jessica does not respond. Judge enters plea as "Not Guilty".

Judge: [To D.A.] -- The ship is a U.S. flag vessel. The offense took place on a U.S. vessel. Jurisdiction question.

Will you look for jail in this case?

D.A. says he's looking for jail and . . . [barely audible other than to judge -- doesn't use mike]

Judge sets 29 January l998 as trial date, enters Not Guilty pleas for all.

Appoints Ms Peabody to represent them. [To her:] If they choose to be represented by someone else, I will relieve you of the appointment.

As to D.A.'s request, Judge says: I don't think they look like a bunch of criminals. I am not going to cause the County that money

Audrey-- I plead innocent.

Judge--I'll take that as a Not Guilty plea

Audrey is wearing a white T-shirt, on front (facing judge) is printed, What about the Iraqi children? On the back, readable by those in courtroom, is printed It is a death ship, NOT a home.

Judge reads the four counts of the charges. How do you plead? Audrey, silent, raises her placard, which says:

I plead innocent

For the silenced

Especially the Iraqi children

who continue to be silenced. The reverse side depicts children devastated by war.

The judge reads the placard aloud. Says: I take that as a Not Guilty plea. A jail case. Ms Peabody, to the extent they refuse counsel I appoint you as standby counsel. At this point Ms Peabody tells the Judge that an attorney has come with them. Mr. Berner stands, identifies himself. Judge: Will you ask for Court-appointed status? B: Yes. Judge: Do you expect them to cooperate with the Court process in filling out the affidavits that are required? B: Yes.

Steve: I plead innocent. The nuclear destroyers are the real criminals here

Steve pleads innocent and wants to make a statement. Judge enters "Not Guilty" plea.

Steve: The aegis nuclear destroyers are the real criminals here.

Judge: There are people who agree with you.

Supporters stand in solidarity with the accused.

During the preceding, first Jessica and then Audrey, leave their stance in front of the bench, saying "This Court is a travesty of justice. I will no longer comply."* The Judge remains quite unperturbed throughout.

[*I couldn't actually hear this; they told me afterwards what they had said]

In discussion afterwards, the twins indicate that they will not appear on the January 29 date. They say the D.A. wants them to sign a commitment to no further Actions, which they will not agree to do. Barry asks Steve how his parents feel about "all this". Response -- "My father [Judge Cohen] respects me for standing up for what I believe in, but he thinks I am misguided. My mother thinks it's the worst thing that has happened in the family and is ashamed of my actions." While arraignments progressed, the Bussells had to leave to get the usual placards to the Wednesday vigil in Portland. Tonight they and Audrey go to visit Mark in Windham Jail (assuming he's still there). Supporters exchange county jail addresses for Steve Kelly and Susan Crane, recognizing that mail will not likely be delivered to them in these temporary jail settings. Nor do we know the final incarceration dsestinations for Phil and Steve B. Tom, we believe, is still in Cumberland County Jail. So -- six Prince of Peace Plowshares bouncing around in Limbo land, and three students arraigned but intending not to comply with the January court date-- "If they want us, they'll have to come and get us."

So it goes.

Another day in the life of The People vs Nuclear Power.