Antinuclear protesters who decided to go to a Virginia jail Tuesday to avoid paying $50 fines imposed on them by a state judge may face additional civil actions by local officials determined to collect the money.
Ten of the 109 demonstrators convicted Tuesday of trespassing on the Virginia Electric and Power Co.'s North Anna plant last month have said they were morally opposed to paying the fine. They tried unsuccessfully to persuade a Louisa County judge to allow them to work on a community service project instead.
All the demonstrators have 60 days in which to pay their fines or face 30 days in jail in the community 85 miles southwest of Washington. The actual jail time is expected to be 18 days, since the protesters will get credit for two days spent in jail after their arrests and 10 days early release for good behavior.
However, Louisa County officials have said they may file civil suits against the jailed demonstrators in order to collect the fines.
The 10 protesters refusing to pay the fines were taken immediately to jail late Tuesday. There had been indications then that as many as 10 more demonstrators also might refuse to pay the fines and take a jail sentence instead.
It was unknown yesterday, however, what effect the threat of an additional legal suit by the county might have on a decision to pay, or not, the fines.
The convicted demonstrators who do not go to jail have 10 days in which to decide whether they will appeal the guilty verdicts to a higher court.