AT THIS TIME, NO TRIAL DATE HAS BEEN SET
The biggest issue before the court is how the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) applies to the seven defendants. There is no question all 7 are lifelong faith activists who acted consistent with their faith on issues of principle.
Under RFRA the government is supposed to not infringe on people’s faith based actions unless there is a compelling governmental interest to do so and the government acts on that interest in the least restrictive way possible. If the government thinks they must do something to stop these people of faith from acting on their religious beliefs, the government has to do it in a way that places the least possible burden on religious freedom.
So, the argument before the court is that these charges must be dismissed because the government never even looked at alternatives – like ban and bar letters or civil suits or just charging people with a misdemeanor. Or, if not dismissed entirely, the charges should be drastically reduced.
RFRA has never been used as a defense in any Plowshares cases before and there are no previous cases exactly on point.
Once the Magistrate rules, defendants have 30 days to appeal any adverse ruling to the US District Judge who will then make a final decision on those pretrial issues. At that time, we expect a trial date will be set.
As of now, Mark Colville, Steve Kelly, and Liz McAlister remain in the Glynn County jail over a year after being arrested. Clare Grady, Marth Hennessy, Patrick O’Neill and Carmen Trotta remain out on cash bonds, ankle monitors and restricted movement.