A federal appeals court yesterday ordered a new hearing for a woman found guilty of blocking a Pentagon entrance in a demonstration last fall against "the impact of the military on women" because of U.S. magistrate said he had made up his mind in the case without hearing her lawyer's closing argument.
Magistrate Quinn S. Elson convicted Mary Y. King, a member of the Woman's Pentagon Acton Committee, and fined her $25 at the Dec. 1 hearing in Alexandria after telling her attorney, "We have other people waiting here on drug charges and we have a number of cases to get on with this afternoon," according to court documents.
"Go ahead if you want to argue it. I have already made my finding. It's not going to change anything," Elson told lawyer Jonathan Shapiro.
Sharpiro said yesterday Elson told him "You're already taken up enough time on this case" when the attorney attempted to make his final argument. "It was a real quickie," Sharpiro said. "I was really outraged."
In its ruling, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond said that although King's trial was neither complex nor lengthy, closing arguments were still important and her 6th Amendment right to effective legal aid was violated.