RECENT EVENTS REPORTED
Motion to Dismiss Criminal
YORK, NY: ACLA Chief Counsel
Christopher A. Ferrara has filed a motion to dismiss criminal charges filed
against a pro-life activist by the Manhattan District Attorney. The activist was
charged with “harassment” and “disorderly conduct” The motion seeks dismissal on
First Amendment grounds and for failure to grant a speedy trial. “In our view,
the facts alleged do not establish any criminal offense,” said Mr. Ferrara.
“This pro-life activist was peacefully exercising his First Amendment rights on
a public sidewalk.”
Pro-Life Jury Trial scheduled
for May 22
PA: ACLA attorneys will be representing pro-life activists as plaintiffs in a
jury trial seeking damages against the City of Allentown for violation of the
civil rights of the activists. The suit alleges that Allentown’s Police Chief,
Assistant Police Chief and Mayor adopted a policy of using unwarranted criminal
prosecutions to keep the pro-life advocates off the sidewalk an Allentown
Forty-one (41) prosecutions were initiated, and all of them ended in either
acquittal or dismissal of all charges against the pro-life activists.
Pro-Life T-Shirt case Settled
NY: Following the granting of a preliminary injunction by a federal
district judge in Buffalo, the defendant Fillmore Central School District
settled the lawsuit filed on behalf of a pro-life student by ACLA and attorneys
at the Thomas More Law Center. The case was successfully argued before the
federal court by ACLA Chief Counsel Christopher A. Ferrara.
Under the settlement the school district has consented to a permanent
injunction guaranteeing the student's right to wear the pro-life t-shirt to
school without further interference by school authorities, or threats of
"This is a very important case for the first amendment rights of pro-life
students, not only in the Fillmore district, but across the country," said Mr.
ACLA defend pro-lifers against Attorney
NY: ACLA is currently defending veteran pro-life activists John Cain
and Luis Manchaca against a suit brought against them by attorneys of the
"Reproductive Rights Unit" of the New York Attorney General's office.
The suit seeks to impose an elaborate speech restricting injunction that
would severely hamper the pro-life advocates in their sidewalk counseling of
women and offering of literature.
ACLA Chief Counsel Christopher A. Ferrara is currently engaged in a
preliminary injunction hearing in which the Attorney General presented 13
witnesses. The hearing is to conclude shortly.
"We believe this case is unfounded, and that any injunctive relief would be
totally unwarranted," said Mr. Ferrara.
"The allegations in this case boil down to the staffers and clients of an
abortion clinic being offended and disturbed by a message they do not want to
hear. We intend to defend this case aggressively at every step of the way," Mr.
Ferrara further stated.
A decision on the preliminary injunction is expected shortly.
Pennsylvania Pro-Life Law Suit Moves ahead
ALLENTOWN, PA: Led by Philadelphia
litigation counsel Denis V. Brenan, ACLA attorneys are preparing for upcoming
hearings in a federal action they have filed against the city of Allentown, its
Mayor, Police Chief and other officials on behalf of a group of pro-life
activists who witness for life at an Allentown abortion mill.
This is the second federal action ACLA attorneys have filed in this matter.
The first action resulted in a pro-life victory when a federal district judge in
Philadelphia granted a permanent injunction forbidding Allentown from requiring
a "permit" for pro-life demonstrations at the abortion mill.
Since then, however, Allentown police have issued more than 40 citations for
"loitering" and other alleged offenses in connection with peaceful protests at
the abortion mill.
Mr. Brenan and Chief Counsel Christopher A. Ferrara, who was admitted
pro hac vice
at one of the trials, have obtained acquittals or dismissals on all 40 of these
The plaintiffs are seeking a further federal court injunction against the
issuance of further citations for "loitering".
Further hearings are currently scheduled for late February.
Oregon Case heading to Supreme Court
PORTLAND, OR: ACLA attorneys, working
with attorneys of the Thomas More Law Center, are preparing a petition for
seeking Supreme Court review of the decision of the Ninth Circuit in the famous
"Nuremberg Files" website case.
This case, which has received international publicity, involves a
$109,000,000 verdict - since slashed by 96% -- against pro-life activists based
on nothing more than two posters and a website alleged to be "threats" in
violation of FACE and RICO.
"While the verdict has been slashed by the Ninth Circuit, what remains is
still a violation of the First Amendment liberty of pro-life activists. We are
hoping the Supreme Court will agree with our position," said ACLA Chief Counsel,
Christopher A. Ferrara.
petition is due to be filed on February 23, 2006.
injunction request granted
NY: United States District Judge John T. Elfvin in Buffalo has
granted the ACLA’s request for a
preliminary injunction which prohibits public high school authorities from
ordering our pro-life client to remove, turn inside-out or otherwise cover his
Pending further order of the court, the school authorities can no
longer threaten our client with suspension or any other penalty for expressing
his pro-life views. Our client’s First Amendment rights have been upheld.
This case was orally argued before Judge Elfvin by ACLA’s President
and Chief Counsel Christopher A. Ferrara, working in conjunction with attorneys
from the Thomas More Law Center.
“I look forward to working with Julie Shotzbarger and Edward White of the
Thomas More Center in this important First Amendment case,” said Mr. Ferrara.
COURT SLASHES $109,000,000 PRO-LIFE VERDICT
Files” Website Case
On the same day the ACLA learned of this victory in Buffalo, the
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals slashed the $109,000,000 verdict in the famous
"Nuremberg Files" website case by 95%, ordering the plaintiff abortionists to
accept the drastically reduced amount or else conduct a new trial.
ACLA is representing several of the pro-life activists in this
case. ACLA attorneys hope to obtain an ultimate reversal of the remainder of
the verdict, in the United States Supreme Court if necessary.
PRO-LIFER ACQUITTED OF CRIMINAL TRESPASS
ALLENTOWN, PA: Following a four day trial before the Honorable Kelly
Banach in the Court of Common Pleas in Allentown, pro-life activist Philip
Pongracz was acquitted of a charge of defiant criminal trespass brought against
him on a complaint by a security guard at the local abortion mill, Allentown
Women’s Center. Mr. Pongracz was defended by ACLA’s litigation counsel Denis V.
In acquitting Mr. Pongracz, Judge Banach cited the evidence
of Allentown Women’s Center own security camera video tape, subpoenaed by Mr.
Brenan, whose disclosure the Center had vigorously resisted. The tape failed to
show Mr. Pongracz trespassing in the Center’s parking lot at the time alleged,
even though the camera was trained on the area in question and was running at
“The prosecution of Mr. Pongracz was totally unwarranted.
The Commonwealth had access to the same video tape, and acknowledged that it
could not see Mr. Pongracz engaging in trespass on the tape. That’s because Mr.
Pongracz never trespassed. This case should never have gone to trial,” said Mr.
“This prosecution was a waste of precious city resources at
a time when Allentown is suffering from a rather high crime rate and a budgetary
crunch,” added Mr. Brenan. “Mr. Pongracz has the benefit of a fair, impartial
and thoughtful judge. A defendant could not ask for more than that,” he
Mr. Pongracz’s acquittal represents at least the 38th
acquittal of pro-life activists charged with various offenses in connection with
their peaceful demonstrations at the Center.
ACLA attorneys are currently pursuing two federal civil
rights actions against Allentown and named officials.
ORAL ARGUMENT SCHEDULED IN “NUREMBERG FILES”
OR: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled for oral argument on July
2005 the ACLA's continuing appeal from a $109 million verdict against a group of
Other parties in the case are being represented by Thomas More Law Center.
The verdict, reversed by a three judge panel only to be reinstated by a sharply
divided en banc panel (by a vote of 6-to-5) punishes the pro-life activists for
alleged violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinics Entrances Act (FACE) and
the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
The verdict was based entirely on two anti-abortion posters and a website called
“the Nuremberg Files.” The posters and website were presented to the jury as
“threats” in violation of FACE and “extortion” in violation of RICO.
In reversing the verdict following oral argument by ACLA Chief Counsel
Christopher A. Ferrara, the three judge panel found that it violated the First
Amendment, along with an injunction that prohibited republication or even
possession of the posters or website.
The en banc panel, in reinstating the verdict, held that the communications
could be construed as “threats” because “similar” communications by non-parties
had been followed by violence against the abortionists named in the earlier
Following the en banc panel’s decision, which remanded the case back to the
trial court on the question of punitive damages, the Supreme Court declined to
review the case at that time. Now that the trial court has upheld the punitive
damages award in toto, the case is back before the Ninth Circuit on Appeal.
“Since the time of the en banc panel’s decision, there have been major
changes in the law as the result of new Supreme Court decisions affecting all
'threat' claims against pro-life activists under FACE and RICO,” said Mr.
Ferrara. “In particular, the Supreme Court has since effectively abolished the
use of RICO against pro-life activists accused of ‘extortion’ but who obtain no
more or property from their supposed victims,” Ferrara added. “We are hopeful
that the Ninth Circuit, or, if necessary, the Supreme Court, will now reverse
the verdict in this crucial case for pro-life activists across the country.”
This case has already received worldwide press coverage and has been the subject
of law review articles and even a moot court exercise.
If necessary, this case will proceed to the United States Supreme Court on
second petition for
SUIT FILED ON BEHALF OF TEEN BARRED FROM
WEARING PRO-LIFE SHIRT TO SCHOOL in new york state
NEW YORK: The ACLA, together with the
Thomas More Law Center, has filed suit against the Fillmore School District near
Buffalo, New York, on behalf of a Junior in High School, who was ordered by school
authorities to cease wearing his pro-life shirt at his high school because its
message---“Abortion is Homicide”---allegedly upset other students.
The student has been threatened with academic discipline under the school’s “dress
code” if he wears the shirt again, and has already been suspended for one day,
the suit alleges.
“Supreme Court case law is clear on this point,” said Chief Counsel Christopher
A. Ferrara. “A student does not leave his First Amendment rights at the
schoolhouse door, and the mere possibility of disturbance to other students is no
basis on which to restrict peaceable student speech.”
The suit, now in its early stages, will soon proceed to a request for a
preliminary injunction to protect Kevin’s right to wear his pro-life shirt.
Chief Counsel Christopher A. Ferrara will appear to argue in favor of the
ACLA files SUIT AGAINST SCHOOL DISTRICT THAT
BANNED RELIGIOUS MUSIC
ESSEX COUNTY, NJ: The ACLA has filed suit
against the Millburn School District in Essex County, New Jersey on behalf of
Michael Stratechuck, and his two minor children, challenging the District’s
policy of banning all religious music from school activities, including even
traditional Christmas carols at Christmas time.
Mr. Stratechuck, himself a music teacher and professional violinist, opposes
the policy as a form of state-sponsored religious discrimination in violation of
the Establishment Clause, the suit alleges.
In this action ACLA’s chief counsel, Christopher A. Ferrara, is serving as
local counsel for Robert J. Muise of the Thomas More Law Center.
CRIMINAL CONTEMPT CHARGES TO BE DISMISSED
LOWEVILLE, NY: The Lewis County District Attorney's
office, following discussions and correspondence with Chief Counsel Christopher
Ferrara, has agreed to drop criminal contempt charges against Joseph
and Victoria Kraeger arising from their peaceful public protest against
a Planned Parenthood facility in Lowville, NY.
This action avoids a
federal lawsuit Association attorneys were preparing to file in order
to enjoin [stop] the prosecutions. "We are gratified by this result
and intend to mount a vigorous defense to the remaining disorderly
persons charges," said Mr. Ferrara.
ACLA attorneys move to hold city of
allentown in contempt of court
PA: ACLA attorney Denis Brenan and Chief Counsel Christopher A.
Ferrara moved before federal judge James McGirr Kelly for an order holding the
city of Allentown and named officials, its mayor and police chief and other city
officials, in contempt of court.
The motion for contempt states that the city and its officials have defied Judge
Kelly’s injunction protecting the right of pro-life activists to advocate
against abortion at an abortion facility on Keats Street in the city of
Despite the injunction in favor of the pro-life activists, Allentown police
continued to issue ongoing citations for “loitering,” every one of which was
dismissed in state criminal court.
The motion further states that the issuance of these citations, and continual
attempts by police to impose various conditions on pro-life advocate speech –
such as forcing them to walk around the block and to remain in perpetual motion,
thus preventing them from counseling abortion-bound women – constitute contempt
of Judge Kelly’s injunction in favor of the pro-life activists’ right to
peacefully protest and counsel women in the vicinity of the clinic.
The motion seeks a further order of the court prohibiting the issuance of any
additional “loitering” citations or the imposition of any conditions on the
activities of the pro-life advocates.
The motion also requests that the City of Allentown and the city officials be
fined $1000 a day if they continue to interfere with pro-life advocacy on Keats
Street; and that, if necessary, these same officials be imprisoned until they
comply with the federal injunction.
The conduct of the police in this matter has included arresting, handcuffing,
and manacling to a bench a 61 year old grandmother who was charged with
“protesting without a permit.”
contempt motion alleges that the Allentown police and named officials are
violating their sworn duty to uphold the law and are, in fact, acting lawlessly
in their effort to stifle pro-life advocacy on Keats street.
“This case is a crucial test for the rights of pro-life activists, not only in
the state of Pennsylvania, but across America,” said Christopher A. Ferrara,
ACLA’s Chief Counsel.
The motion has received extensive press coverage and was also covered in a story
on National Public Radio. A hearing on the contempt motion is expected shortly.
SEE RELATED NEWS STORIES:
The Associated Press - December 23, 2004
a ruling from a federal judge, a district justice has dismissed charges against
four abortion protesters.
The Associated Press - January 21, 2005
"Abortion opponents who contend city officials have repeatedly violated a
federal judge's order to allow picketing outside a clinic have asked the judge
to hold the city in contempt of court...."
Morning Call - January 21, 2005
"Abortion protesters want city fined for picket limits
Police ignore U.S. court order to let them rally near clinic, lawyers say...."
Also see related stories below.
33 Citations Against Pro-Lifers: ALL
PA: Following a decision by federal judge James McGirr Kelly, in
which he issued his August 9th injunction declaring that the pro-life advocates
have the right to be on Keats Street, ACLA's Pennsylvania litigation counsel,
Denis Brenan, has been defending no fewer than 33 spurious citations for
“loitering” and “trespassing” issued by the Allentown police.
"I am happy to report that the pro-life advocates have been acquitted or
granted a dismissal of every single
one of these 33 charges, including two charges against veteran pro-life activist
Donald Cumming, whom I defended in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas,"
stated Chief Counsel Christopher A. Ferrara.
"These victories show the importance of the heroic perseverance of these fine
men and women of conscience in the battle against Big Abortion. We are
gratified to see their brave efforts being rewarded and their rights being
protected by the courts," Chief Counsel Ferrara further observed.
PA: In yet another victory for the cause of life, veteran pro-life
activist Edward Snell was recently acquitted of a charge of “harassment” arising
from his constitutionally protected pro-life advocacy on the public sidewalk
near an abortion facility in York.
Snell was accused of harassment based on nothing more than his peaceful pro-life
activities and distribution of literature on alternatives to abortion.
Mr. Snell's defense at the the criminal trial was handled by Denis Brenan, the
ACLA’s Pennsylvania litigation counsel.
“This is another significant victory for the first amendment rights of pro-life
advocates," said Brenan following the acquittal.
The charges against Snell arose from long-standing efforts by the local abortion
clinic to stifle pro-life protests in York.
ACLA attorneys successfully defended an earlier lawsuit brought by the clinic to
obtain an injunction against pro-life protests. After years of litigation, the
abortion clinic has finally dropped its claims against the pro-life defendants.
“These victories demonstrate that, through persistence and good legal work, Big
Abortion can be resisted and defeated,” said ACLA Chief Counsel Christopher A.
Ferrara, who handled the earlier lawsuit in which the abortion clinic's claims
against Snell and other pro-life activists were dropped.
Commenting to the ACLA on the acquittal, the Snells wrote: "Without your
generous help it could have been a disastrous Christmas. God bless you in
all your generous work."
NY: After ACLA attorneys successfully defended against a
groundless contempt charge filed against Mrs. Victoria Kreiger, a pro-life
advocate and mother of ten, by the New York State Attorney General, and an
equally groundless criminal indictment, winning an acquittal in both cases, the
persecution of the courageous pro-life advocate and her husband and family
The Lewis County District Attorney’s Office, in conjunction
with the Lowville, NY police department, is now attempting to have Mrs. Kreiger
and her husband held in contempt of the federal injunction in a local state
court! “State courts have no power to find people in contempt of federal court
injunctions. I believe this prosecution constitutes harassment,” said
Christopher A. Ferrara, ACLA’s chief counsel.
The new “contempt” charges brought against the Kreigers are
based in part on the allegation that they “damaged” the property of the local
Planned Parenthood clinic when their car allegedly left tire marks while being
legally parked on the grassy shoulder of the road adjoining the clinic location.
“This is ridiculous,” said Mrs. Kraeger. “When they passed
the FACE law, they told us that we would be safe if we did not try to block
access to clinics but just engaged in peaceful sidewalk protest. Now they are
trying to make that a criminal offense too.” “We thank God for the help Chris
Ferrara and the ACLA are giving us pro bono,” she added.
Activist Criminally Charged
for Sprinkling Holy Water!
NY: A veteran pro-life activist, John Cain, was criminally
charged under the New York clinic access law on such bogus allegations as
throwing a “corrosive liquid” at a Manhattan abortion mill.
The “corrosive liquid” was Holy Water!
After being arrested and suffering a life-threatening bout
of cardiac arrhythmia, Mr. Cain was forced to endure criminal proceedings in the
Manhattan criminal court system for almost a year, until the charges were
finally dismissed for failure to grant a speedy trial.
“The prosecutor had no case. That’s why he was never
ready to go to trial, so the court threw out all the charges,” said Mr. Cain.
ACLA intends to file a suit against the abortion clinic for
malicious prosecution. “We cannot allow Catholic pro-life activists to be
treated this way for defending innocent human life,” said Chief Counsel Christopher A. Ferrara.
“Buddhists in the sanctuary”
case thrown out
RAPIDS, MI: In a victory for ACLA’s client, a widely reported
“Buddhists in the Basilica” case arising in Grand Rapids, MI has been dismissed.
The suit had been brought against Fr. Michael McMahon by
one Glen Freeman, sacristan of the Basilica of St. Adalbert in Grand Rapids, who
claimed to be acting on behalf of a group of seven Tibetan Buddhist monks. The
monks were invited to the basilica last February to “demonstrate”
Hindu chants and prayers in an "Evening of Religious Prayers" in the Catholic
This "Evening of Religious Prayers included covering the
consecrated high altar with Buddhist items, political signs, and particularly a
placard larger than 8 feet x 10 feet showing an image of the face of the
imprisoned Panchen Lama.
When Fr. McMahon and a group of traditionalist Catholics
continuously prayed the Rosary in the pews in order to forestall this
unfortunate sacrilege, the Buddhists eventually left without giving their
“Evening of Religious Prayers”
The Bishop of Grand Rapids, Kevin Britt, who said he had no
control over this sacrilege taking place in his dioscese, died suddenly in his sleep at the age of 59 shortly
Freeman subsequently sued Father McMahon, seeking damages
for “costs” allegedly incurred when the Buddhist “demonstration” did not
After being contacted by ACLA attorneys with document requests and a
notice to take his deposition, Freeman abandoned the law suit during a pre-trial
conference. He has since filed a document dismissing the suit altogether.
“This was a major victory for the right of Catholics to
defend their faith. This suit should never been brought. I am deeply grateful
to the ACLA for its assistance” said Fr. McMahon.
The ACLA received able assistance from affiliate attorney
ANOTHER PRO-LIFE VICTORY
PA: In a major victory in the ongoing struggle of pro-life activists
to exercise their first amendment rights in the city of Allentown, pro-life
activist Donald Cummings and Phillip Pongracz were each acquitted of charges of
harassment and defiant trespass this past week. In addition, six charges of loitering and
protesting without permits were dismissed, for a total of ten (10) favorable
During a trial before the Honorable Isaac Garb in the Court of Common Pleas,
Donald E. Cummings was represented by ACLA Chief Counsel, Christopher A.
Ferrara; and Mr. Pongracz by ACLA Pennsylvania Litigation Counsel Denis V.
The “harassment” charge was based on an alleged sidewalk encounter with a
supporter of the local abortion clinic where Cummings and Pongracz regularly
engage in pro-life activism. The trespass charges were based on alleged trespass
on the property claimed to be owned by the abortion clinic and the adjacent
Judge Garb granted motions for acquittal on all of those charges at the
conclusion of the Commonwealth’s case. Judge Garb ruled that the harassment
charges were precluded by the First Amendment and that the alleged following of
the victim for a short time along the public sidewalk did not cross the line
into unprotected conduct.
As for the trespass charges, Judge Garb ruled that there was a failure of proof
that the clinic owned the property on which one of the trespasses allegedly
occurred. He also ruled that there was insufficient proof with regard to the
alleged trespass on the adjacent landowner’s property.
“The pro-life advocates in this case received a fair trial before a thoughtful
and impartial judge. In such circumstances, pro-life activists cannot fail to
prevail,” said Mr. Ferrara.
Co-counsel Denis Brenan noted that the City of Allentown has issued 22 charges
which have been tried or scheduled for trial. Of those 22 charges, 21 have been
dismissed either by way of acquittal or voluntary dismissal by the prosecutor.
The 22nd charge remains to be tried. In addition to those 22 charges, the City
has instigated numerous other charges which appear to be equally meritless.
“The citizenry of Allentown should be up in arms at the waste of City resources
and the massive police protection and instantaneous response for the Allentown
Women’s Center,” said Mr. Cummings. “We hope these acquittals and dismissals
will help immensely in our federal civil rights case.”
ACLA Opens Apologetics Desk
FAIRFIELD, NJ: The Association has opened an
Apologetics Desk on
its website to field
questions and objections concerning the Catholic Faith.
has always been part of the Association's mission," said Vice President
Thomas F. Portelli, "and now it's time to take it to the internet.
After all, what could be more natural for a Catholic lawyer than
defending his own faith in the court of public opinion?"
Apologetics desk will publish contributions from prominent priests,
including members of its advisory board, and professional lay
Allentown Authorities Defy
ALLENTOWN, PA: Following a federal court lawsuit in which Association
attorneys won a permanent injunction in favor of the right of Catholic
pro-lifers to protest at the abortion clinic in that city, the Allentown police
and other City authorities are continuing to harass pro-life advocates by
issuing them citations for “loitering” and “trespassing.”
The Association’s Pennsylvania litigation counsel, Dennis
Brenan, has brought a second lawsuit against Allentown to enforce the federal
injunction and to seek damages and other relief on behalf of these beleaguered
“If a federal judge ruled that the pro-life advocates we
represented we have the right to be on Keats Street without a permit, they
cannot possibly be guilty of ‘loitering’ and ‘trespassing’” said Brenan.
The suit alleged that in addition to the summonses for
“loitering” and “trespassing,” Allentown authorities are also trying to invent
new restrictions on pro-life speech at the abortion clinic.
As attorney Brenan explained: “First they declared that
pro-life advocates cannot remain standing on Keats Street, but that they would
have to walk back and forth continuously. When this did not stop our clients in
their peaceful protest, the police then demanded that the pro-life advocates
must walk constantly around the entire city block -- a distance of 1,360 feet --
in order to pass by the clinic only once. This made it impossible for our
clients to hand out literature or counsel the women. "The suit seeks damages and order of the court preventing
further police harassment.
ACLA Special Update on
National public radio Report
ALLENTOWN, PA: January 27, 2005 Pro-life
advocate Kathy Kuhns, a plaintiff in the pending litigation against the City of
Allentown, contacted the Association to report that the motion against the City
and named officials for contempt-of-court, filed by ACLA attorneys Denis Brenan
and Christopher A. Ferrara, had received fair and impartial coverage on National
Public Radio, out of Philadelphia on January 21.
This NPR report sparked great interest, including an inquiry from an attorney
representing the subject abortion clinic, who contacted the Association seeking
information about the broadcast.
Kuhns was a long-time resident of Allentown, and grew up near the
current location of the abortion clinic on Keats street. This personal closeness
with the City has made the controversy over its abortion clinic even more
poignant for her, Kuhns said.
Kuhns expressed gratitude for ACLA’s assistance in the case: “The lawyers of the
ACLA are wonderful beyond words. I am just in awe of their intelligence and
their lawyering. God is so good to have sent them to help us.
“It is very difficult to find lawyers who will help us. There are many lawyers
who agree with our pro-life position, but they are not willing to take the
battle into the courts. But Mr. Brenan and Mr. Ferrara support us in our desire
to stand up for our beliefs and our rights as Catholics in protesting abortion.
“They are helping babies even more than we are. What the ACLA is doing will
influence this fight throughout the country. Every time we gain an inch in the
courts, it matters. God bless the ACLA for all they do."
Kathy concluded by making a plea for the support of the Bishops and the priests
of the Catholic Church. "If they would only speak out on our behalf," she said.
"The silence leaves us without defenses. We need them behind us. If the Bishops
spoke out, the priests would be encouraged in this fight, the faithful would be
encouraged, the pro-life lawyers, doctors, nurses would be encouraged.
"This is a grave sin of omission. Without their support, our efforts on behalf
of the unborn are greatly compromised," said Kathy.
August 9, 2004:
Major Federal Court Victory in Philadelphia
PA: On August 9, 2004, Association
attorneys achieved a major pro-life victory in the United States District Court
for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The Honorable James McGirr Kelly
granted a permanent injunction in favor of pro-life activists who demonstrate in
front of an abortion mill in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
For months our pro-life clients have been hassled, maliciously prosecuted, and
otherwise browbeaten and intimidated by the local police, acting in conjunction
with the mayor and assistant police chief of Allentown. Among other things, the
police were attempting to use a permit ordinance designed for parades and other
large events to prohibit out clients’ presence near the abortion mill.
In his decision, Judge Kelly declared that the application of the “permit”
requirement to our clients’ protests was unconstitutional. Judge Kelly then
ordered the City of Allentown, its mayor, police chief, and assistant police
chief to cease their attempts to require a “permit” for our clients’ protest
In short, Judge Kelly has vindicated the First Amendment rights of pro-life
activists in the City of Allentown, and his courageous decision will send a
message to other police departments which, even now, are attempting to use
“permit” and “obstruction of traffic” ordinances to harass, intimidate, and
prosecute pro-lifers who seek to exercise their First Amendment rights on the
This victory required many hours of dogged and exhausting legal work: motions,
briefs, the preparation and examination of witnesses at hearings, the review of
transcripts, the preparation of findings of fact and findings of law. And the
battle is not over. The City of Allentown may well appeal Judge Kelly’s
decision, which will require us to continue the fight in the Third Circuit Court
of Appeals, and perhaps all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
Women's Group Apologizes
to ACLA client Monica Miller, PhD.
MICHIGAN: PRESS RELEASE...The following appeared on the Women Leaders Online website in response
to a letter from ACLA Chief Counsel Christopher A. Ferrara:
Editor's Note: On October 16, 2002, Women Leaders Online received a
certified letter from Christopher A. Ferrara, President and Chief
Counsel of the American Catholic Lawyers Association, Inc. He wrote:
"I represent Monica Miller, Ph.D., a pro-life activist and Roman
Catholic theology professor now residing in Michigan. The following
false and defamatory statement concerning my client appears on your
organizational Website at http://wlo.org/wwa/offley.html:
'Miller is the director of Milwaukee Citizens for Pro-Life Society, a
close associate of Joe Scheidler, and one of two directors of the North
Central region of American Coalition of Life Activists, the
organization set up to bridge the gap between the mainstream
anti-choice movement and the pro-murder current of which Miller is a
part [Monica Migliorino Miller was one of the first signers of Paul
Hill's "Justifiable Homicide" declaration which calls for the murder of
"Monica Miller never signed Paul Hill's justifiable homicide petition,
has disagreed with Paul Hill's views, and has told him so. She is not
part of any "pro-murder current" of the anti-choice movement", but
rather has consistently written and spoken against the use of deadly
force in opposition to abortion, holding that such use of force would
be contrary to Catholic teaching.
"Please publish on your Website a prominent retraction of your false and
defamatory statement, with apologies to Dr. Miller, within ten (10)
days of your receipt of this letter. Should you fail to do so, an
action will be commenced against your organization and you for
Christopher A. Ferrara
President & Chief Counsel
We searched the Internet for a list of those who signed Paul Hill's
"Defensive Action Statement", and found this page from Planned
Parenthood Federation of America. Indeed, Dr. Miller's name is not
among the signers.
Women Leaders Online therefore apologizes for republishing false
information about Dr. Miller. >>>
Christopher A. Ferrara
Fr. Michael McMahon Against
Christopher A. Ferrara, Chief Counsel of the American Catholic Lawyers
Association, will be defending Fr. Michael McMahon of the Society of St. Pius X
in the widely reported “Buddhists in the basilica” case arising in Grand Rapids,
McMahon was sued by one Glen Freeman, sacristan of The Basilica of St. Adalbert
in Grand Rapids, who claims to be acting on behalf of a group of seven Tibetan
The monks were invited to the basilica’s sanctuary
last February to “demonstrate” Hindu chants and prayers. When Fr. McMahon and a
group of traditionalist Catholics continuously prayed the Rosary in the pews,
the Buddhists eventually left without giving their “demonstration.”
Freeman seeks damages for “costs” allegedly
incurred when the demonstration did not proceed. (The Bishop of Grand Rapids,
Kevin Britt, who apparently approved the event, died suddenly in his sleep at
the age of 59 last May.)
“I look forward to defending a very fine
and courageous priest in a First Amendment case of considerable importance,” said Ferrara, a specialist in First Amendment litigation who has been
admitted “pro hac vice” to the local court and will handle the case pro bono.
“These faithful Catholics, Fr. McMahon
included, had every right to pray in a Catholic Church. It is absurd that a
Catholic sacristan is suing his fellow Catholics on behalf of Buddhists, based
on Catholic prayers being said in a Catholic sanctuary”,
Ferrara said he will be taking a pretrial
deposition of Freeman shortly, and that he will appear to defend the case at
trial should he not obtain a dismissal.
Acquitted OF Charge Under Clinic Access Law
In what appears to be the first trial court application of New York's Clinic
Access Law, pro-life activist Victoria Kraeger was acquitted of a charge of
alleged "interference" with clinic access, after a trial in which she was
defended by ACLA Chief Counsel, Christopher A. Ferrara.
Mrs. Kraeger had been indicted based upon a sidewalk encounter with the client
of a local Planned Parenthood clinic. This was precisely the same incident
that gave rise to a prior federal contempt proceeding, in which chief counsel
Christopher A. Ferrara obtained a dismissal following an evidentiary hearing.
"An important victory for the First Amendment rights of pro-life activists
throughout the State of New York. It demonstrates that pro-life speech is
not a crime just because people don't want to hear it," said Mr. Ferrara
after the verdict.
The Association also helped the Kraeger family to avoid paying a federal court
judgement of $80,000 under the FACE law. Afterwards, Mrs. Kraeger wrote as
follows to the ACLA:
"I am writing to thank you for all the hard
work and good advice you and the ACLA staff put forth on our behalf. When
the federal judge told us we would have to pay $80,000, I thought, 'the
pro-aborts will be taking our farm!' There was no way we could pay
"Because of the professional staff at ACLA, we no longer feel threatened...Most
importantly, we can re-focus our efforts away from the courtroom and back to the
sidewalk, offering help to women...and hopefully saving babies."