'Taneytown 3' Await Decision On Appeal

Pennsylvania Supreme Court May Hear Case

November 10, 1991|By Maria Archangelo | Maria Archangelo,Staff writer

TANEYTOWN — Three peace activists convicted of trespassing at a secret military command center near the Mason-Dixon line are waiting to hear whether the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will consider their appeal.

The appeal was sent to the state's highest court Sept. 20, said James Feldman, one of two Philadelphia attorneys representing the group.

The group's decision to appeal came after an Aug. 22 ruling by the state Superior Court upholding the convictions of Yvonne Small, 46,her husband, James Small, 50, and Wayne Cogswell, 58.

If the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, oral arguments will not take place until next year, Feldman said.

The three Taneytown residents were among seven protesters arrested at a peace vigil in August 1989 at Site R, an alternate military command center nestled in Raven Rock Mountain near Blue Ridge Summit, Pa. In a nuclear war, SiteR would direct military operations and house the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The group, dubbed the "Site R Seven," was protesting the compound, calling it illegal and immoral. The protest also marked the anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The group was found guilty of defiant trespass after a trial in Adams County Court of Common Pleas in April 1990.

The three appealed that verdict to Pennsylvania Superior Court, claiming the state does not have jurisdiction over Site R because it was deeded to the federal government by then-Gov. Dick Thornburgh in 1985.

Peter Goldberger, the group's other attorney, also argued at a June hearing on the appeal thatthe protesters were not guilty of trespassing at the center because they believed they had a right to be there under the First Amendment.

Finally, the group challenged Adams County Judge Oscar F. Spicer's sentencing in the case.

In September 1990, Spicer sentenced eachof the Smalls and Cogswell to one year of probation, 40 hours of community service and a $700 fine.

Spicer ruled that the Smalls should be responsible for their own fines as well as for each other's because they are married.

The group has decided to take the case as far as it can go, Yvonne Small said, because if the court rules they had a "privilege" to stand in front of the entrance to the site, it would set a favorable precedent for activists who protest on government property.

Small, the director of the Peace Resource Center in Frederick, was arrested in August 1990 for again protesting at Site R. She spent 30 days in jail late last year for refusing to pay a fine in that case.

She completed the terms of her parole in that case lastweek.

At a protest at Site R on Aug. 4, James Small again was arrested for trespassing and fined $150.

Small attended the vigil butdid not block the entrance to Site R. She said she wanted to show Spicer she had respect for the law.

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