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Home About Us Prisoners of Conscience 2003 - SOA 45 Karl Meyer Found "Guilty" For Refusing to Submit to Search
Karl Meyer Found "Guilty" For Refusing to Submit to Search PDF Print E-mail
Prior to the November 2002 vigil and action, SOA Watch took the City of Columbus to court in an attempt to prevent their plans to establish a perimeter around the protest site and require all who wanted to enter to be searched with a metal detector. Judge Clay Lands ruled in the city's favor and the searches were allowed to continue. An appeal has been filed with the 11th Circuit, but the court has still not decided on the appeal, so the police searches occurred for a second year at the November 2003 rally and vigil.

In protest of this blatantly unconstitutional search, former Prisoner of Conscience Karl Meyer of Nashville, Tennessee, explained to the officers at the checkpoint in November 2002 that he did not believe it necessary to sacrifice his civil liberties in order to be allowed freedom of expression. He then entered the protest site without submitting to the search. He was arrested, held overnight and released on $1,000 bond. It took eleven months for the court to schedule a trial, and the date chosen -- January 2004 -- was after the November 2003 rally and vigil, more than a year after Karl's original entry. So at the November 23, 2003 vigil, Karl once again did not submit to the unconstitutional search. He was again arrested, held overnight and released after posting a $250 bond.

On Tuesday, January 13, 2004, Karl?s trial took place in the State Court in Columbus, Georgia. Despite an excellent pro se defense by Karl, he was found Karl ?guilty?.

Karl was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation on each count, with the sentences to run concurrently. The only stipulation is that he must stay more than one mile from the border of Fort Benning with Muscogee County. He is not banned from the base perimeter in the other counties that include or border parts of Fort Benning.

Karl appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeals of Georgia, but that Court dismissed his appeal on the grounds that an ambiguous filing regulation had not been followed.
 

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