By Henry Stoever
Friends, Thank you for your long-time support and interest in our trespass cases at the nuclear weapon parts plant. On May 31, 2021, five peace advocates (Jim Hannah, Tom Mountenay, Christian Brother Louis Rodemann, Brian Terrell, and I) crossed the property line at the Kansas City (MO) National Security Campus, where 85 percent of the non-nuclear parts of US nuclear weapons are made or procured. Each time such a crossing happens on Memorial Day, I give advance notice to the security guards at the weapons plant and to the Kansas City, MO, Police Dept. Each of us in 2021 received a ticket for trespassing and a notice to appear in Municipal Court, in KC, MO.
PeaceWorks Kansas City has previously reported on the trial of the other four, and their interaction with Judge Ardie Bland. I was also found guilty by a different Municipal Court judge, and I filed my Motion for Trial De Novo (for a new trial) in Jackson County, MO, Circuit Court. In addition, I filed a Motion for a Jury Trial. And I had filed a trial brief with the court. Jury trial settings for my case were scheduled for Sept. 6, 2022, and, later, Feb. 21, 2023.
The prosecutor asked me to plead guilty. I refused to plead guilty of trespass for I did not truly feel I was guilty. We are all familiar with this passage from the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” But I feel that all of us are already being trespassed upon by the years of construction, deployment and threats to use nuclear weapons, on hair-trigger alert at all times, and that we activists were merely doing an intervention following our consciences, to sound the alarm. I said I could not tell a judge in good faith that I am truly guilty of a crime, for a crime against all of humanity had already occurred.
On Nov. 1, 2022, at a pre-trial management conference, the trial judge suggested that this case should be settled. After my appearance before the judge, the city prosecutor asked me if I would accept “diversion,” and said I would not have to plead guilty. After a week of reflection, I informed the city prosecutor that I would accept diversion, and I reminded the prosecutor that 18 months had passed since the action. The next pre-trial management conference was scheduled for Dec. 20, 2022. By mid-December, the city prosecutor had not responded to my prior 3 e-mails to her. Then I learned by e-mail from the city prosecutor that a Notice of Dismissal was filed with the court on Dec. 14, 2022, in my case, thereby dismissing the case, “pursuant to successful completion of the diversion agreement in the municipal case, with prejudice” (meaning the city prosecutor cannot re-open the case). I had not done any other public service or extra duties. The city prosecutor closed my case.
So do not come to court on Feb. 21, 2023, for there will be NO trial.
In going to several pre-trial conference meetings with the judge, I thanked the city prosecutor for continuing to generate publicity for our cause, and acknowledged that in a jury trial, there may be a hung jury with a retrial, or if found guilty, then an appeal to the Missouri Court of Appeals, and an appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court.
I felt duty-bound to take this case as far as it has gone. I have suffered physically and mentally in carrying this matter forward, in spite of the costs. I wrote myself a note: “Just Do It. Don’t talk yourself out of it. Perhaps my trial is my destiny in a life of advocating for peace and justice, regardless of the outcome.”
You can reach me at: (913) 375-0045 (cell), and firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Henry Stoever, co-chair of PeaceWorks Kansas City, is a retired lawyer who has, by now, not been found guilty in four instances in which he crossed the property line at the Kansas City nuclear weapons plant.
© 2022, Henry Stoever, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International License.