Anti-Abortion activist pastor Walter Hoye had his conviction overturned on a technicality. The appeals court thought the judge’s instructions concerning the term “approach” were vague.
In a ruling Wednesday, a three-judge Superior Court panel said trial Judge Stuart Hing had failed to tell jurors what they had to conclude before convicting Hoye.
When jurors asked Hing during deliberations to define the "approach" that the ordinance prohibited, the judge told them to use the everyday meaning of the word.
But the panel said the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a similar case from Colorado in 2000 that an abortion protester who stands still, and speaks or hands leaflets to patients who walk by, cannot be convicted of knowingly approaching the patient.
I can see where it might be a problem. It’s hard to understand a word with so many different uses. Common sense would be in short supply, no wait. It seems pretty clear to me. Approach, the act of drawing spatially closer to something. What were these judges thinking?
Previous posts on Walter Hoye
- Small victories (Aug 2009)
- Pastor jailed for Oakland anti-abortion acts (Mar 2009)
- I’m so conflicted (Feb 2009)