On Thursday, September 15, 2011, U.S. Magistrate Rita Coyne-Federman dismissed the trespassing cases (stemming from a November 3, 2010 arrest) against Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J., Fr. Louie Vitalie, OFM, and Dennis Apel. In her decision Coyne-Federman stated that the 9th Circuit Court’s ruling in U.S.A. vs Hobart Parker made it clear that, although she believed the Base had applied a sufficient amount of control over the public highways that run through the Base to give them authority to arrest and cite for trespassing, the Base could not legally do so in concurrent jurisdiction.
It was a victory for those who have received Ban and Bar orders from the Base and who can now protest at the Main Gate without the threat of being arrested. Present in the courtroom were a number of personnel from Vandenberg Air Force Base including the Base Commander, Colonel Richard Boltz. After the verdict Magistrate Coyne-Federman stated her ruling was likely “only round one,” intimating that she thought the Government might appeal her ruling. Dennis Apel, however, already has an identical case pending in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which, if successful, should permanently resolve the issue unless the Government chooses to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.
Posted: September 22nd, 2011 under News.