Lawyers from People’s Law Office Challenging Illinois Terrorism Statute
Date: March 19, 2013
Location: Cook County Criminal Court, Judge Thaddeus Wilson, Room 303 (may be moved to a different court room to accommodate crowd)
2650 S. California, Chicago, IL 60608
Contact: Michael Deutsch, Lawyer for Brian Jacob Church
People’s Law Office
Today, March 19, 2013, lawyers for the NATO 3 will argue their motion to dismiss the state terrorism charges filed against their clients Brian Jacob Church, Jared Chase, and Brent Betterly. The motion, which was filed in January, challenges the statutory definitions of “terrorism” as being unconstitutionally vague and as impermissibly restricting lawful conduct protected by the First Amendment.
The definition of terrorism used in the Illinois statute, “an intent to coerce or intimidate a significant portion of the civilian population,” does not require an element of force or violence, nor does it limit its application to illegal conduct. Furthermore, the statute fails to define a “significant portion of the civilian population” and lacks standards for defining other terms such as “coerce” and “intimidate.” For these reasons, the statute fails to provide constitutionally sufficient notice to those facing potential criminal charges.
The vagueness of the statute also allows for the arbitrary and politically motivated use of the statute by police and prosecutors, exemplified by the charging of Betterly, Church, and Chase on the eve of major anti-NATO demonstrations last May. Though the terrorism statute was passed following September 11, 2001, the challenged sections had never been used until Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez charged the NATO 3 with material support for terrorism and conspiracy to commit terrorism and issued an accompanying press release alleging sensationalist plots by the young activists—none of which ever occurred.
The NATO 3 lawyers will be available to answer questions after the court appearance.
Read the Defendant’s Motion, Memorandum and Reply below