A three judge superior court panel has overturned the conviction of pro-life hero Reverend Walter Hoye.
From today's SF Chronicle:
"An Alameda County court panel has overturned an anti-abortion pastor's convictions for illegally approaching patients outside an Oakland clinic, saying a judge's flawed instructions could have allowed jurors to find him guilty for conduct that was legal.
Walter Hoye of Union City, a pastor at a Berkeley church, was the first person convicted under a 2008 Oakland ordinance that created an 8-foot "bubble" around patients entering reproductive health clinics. The law prohibited knowingly entering that zone to harass a client or offer counseling without the person's consent.
A Superior Court judge sentenced Hoye to 30 days in jail in March 2009 after he refused a probation condition that would have required him to stay 100 yards from the Family Planning Specialists Medical Group at Second and Webster streets.
Hoye served his jail term while appealing his two misdemeanor convictions. He has also challenged the ordinance in federal court, where a judge upheld it in August 2009.
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.
Hoye said he had been standing still during some of the incidents for which he was charged. As a result of Hing's misleading instruction, the court panel said, the pastor may have been convicted for legal activities.
The panel also said Hing should have told the jury that it must agree unanimously about what Hoye did that broke the law.
Jurors found only that he had approached patients illegally on two days in 2008. But because Hoye had multiple encounters with patients on both days, the panel said, individual jurors might have disagreed about which acts were illegal, violating his right to a unanimous verdict.
Kevin Dunleavy, the county's chief assistant district attorney, said prosecutors are reviewing the ruling before deciding whether to challenge it in a state appeals court."
To learn more about Reverend Hoye, or to contribute to his work, visit www.issues4life.com
His site has a chilling statistic that I had roughly known but never seen before right down in black and white: In 2005 there were 452,000 black babies killed in the womb. ALL other causes of death for African-Americans put together amounted to only 292,808. There were 157,000 more deaths than births in the African-American community in 2005.
As Walter says:
"Brothers, we have got to talk about this."