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Peace-Loving Convicts

By Gregory Flannery · March 14th, 2007 · Porkopolis
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  (L-R) John Monahan, Pat Mallory and Jody Mallory look at mementoes of Irish Cincinnati.
Graham Lienhart

(L-R) John Monahan, Pat Mallory and Jody Mallory look at mementoes of Irish Cincinnati.



One of the weirder trials to take place in Hamilton County Municipal Court in recent years ended March 13 with the conviction of four peace protesters on a charge of trespassing. The trial was distinctive in several ways: Five volunteer lawyers represented four defendants, including a 79-year-old nun. The prosecutor repeatedly told the jury how nice the defendants are. The trial stretched over the course of six days. The prosecutor presented a minimalist case, offering only one witness. No police officers took the stand.

At issue was a sit-in last year at the office of U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood). Five adults and two juveniles were arrested when they refused to leave unless Chabot signed the Congressional Declaration of Peace. The trial involved the final four defendants: Ellen Dienger, a community organizer for Working in Neighborhoods; CityBeat News Editor Gregory Flannery; Sister Mary Evelyn Jegen, an author and retired teacher; and Barbara Wolf, an acclaimed documentary filmmaker.

The protesters' lawyers mounted a "necessity defense," which holds that defendants met the legal standard to violate the law in order to prevent imminent harm, in this case the loss of more lives in the Iraq War. Municipal Court Judge David Stockdale's jury instructions, however, stated that necessity exists only when the unlawful act is done to prevent harm arising from a physical or natural force, such as a storm or contagious disease, but not when the harm arises from "human conduct, such as governmental policy." Stockdale sentenced each of the four to one day in jail, with credit for the day spent in jail after their arrest; 20 hours of community service; and six months of probation.

The sentence is on hold pending an expected appeal.

Some peace lovers are already behind bars. Or perhaps it's more accurate to say that some people behind bars have become peace lovers. The Center for Peace Education (CPE) has received $400 from Umoja Men's Choir of Wilmington College at Warren Correctional Institute. The choir is composed of inmates working hard and singing strong to give back to the communities they left behind. The money raised from the sale of their CD, Do It for the Children, goes to various local organizations that focus on children.

"The Center for Peace Education is honored to receive this gift from the Umoja Choir," says Jane Rega, executive director of CPE. "Their support validates the importance of our work in a way that no one else can."

The Center for Peace Education was founded in 1979 to provide youth and adults the training, resources and strategies needed to value differences and constructively manage conflict.

Loaded Anniversaries
St. Patrick's Day has so long been a fixture in Cincinnati that it's easy to forget the Irish weren't always welcome here. As late as 1898 The Commercial Tribune, a Cincinnati newspaper, published an editorial cartoon featuring two men with the faces of monkeys, McCarthy and Mulcahy. The newspaper is part of Sacred Relics, an exhibit on the history of the Irish in Cincinnati. The exhibit, open for one day March 10 at the Ancient Order of Hibernians Hall in Riverside, is a work in progress. The national Hibernian convention will be in Cincinnati in 2010, and Pat Mallory, who put the exhibit together, hopes to expand the collection over the next three years.

Among the memorabilia are prayer cards and photographs from the 19th century. An 1846 notice praises Irish immigrants who volunteered to fight in the Mexican-American War and "will nobly vindicate the character of adopted citizens of Irish birth on the battlefield." Seventy years later the battle turned to independence from Great Britain. A 1916 edition of The Cincinnati Enquirer led with this headline: "Martial Law Is Proclaimed Throughout Ireland as Dublin Rebellion Spreads to Other Sections." Some struggles seem to never end.

Julius Caesar had a bad day on the Ides of March. Ohio Appeals Judge Mark Painter of Cincinnati plans to have a good day: his 25th anniversary as a judge. He and his wife, Sue Ann Painter, will also have their 21st wedding anniversary that day.

Judge Painter began his judicial service in Hamilton County Municipal Court in 1982. After 13 years there, he was elected to the Ohio First District Court of Appeals, where he is now presiding judge. The Painters were married March 15, 1986.

"I can always remember the anniversary," Painter says. "In high school, we learned 'Beware the Ides of March,' but I think of it as a great day.

For daily updates on the peace protesters' trial, visit CityBeat's Porkopolis blog at citybeat.wordpress.com.



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