Friday, September 17, 2010

Update on the Notre Dame 88 Trial:

Thomas More Society Notches New Victories in Ongoing ND88 Proceedings


 Sept. 17 /Christian Newswire/ -- Sparks flew in St. Joseph County Circuit Court yesterday as the Thomas More Society won several key victories against the prosecution in the case of the "ND88," the individuals arrested in connection with President Barack Obama's appearance at the University of Notre Dame Commencement in 2009. 

Thomas More Society special counsel Tom Dixon beat back efforts by the county prosecutor to force all defendants to return to South Bend one week prior to their trials, which the court denied "in the interest of justice." Dixon also defeated efforts by the prosecutor to deny each defendant his or her own individual jury trial by consolidating the cases. Chief Judge Michael Scopelitis also ruled for the defense in holding that the prosecution must turn over documents related to a woman arrested but not prosecuted for holding a pro-life sign on Commencement Day, even as many others around her holding pro-Obama signs were not arrested. Chief Judge Scopelitis took under advisement the issue of whether Society attorneys will be able to depose Bill Kirk, Notre Dame's former vice president of residential life who was in charge of campus security. 

"We remain hopeful that Notre Dame will bring these ill-starred criminal misdemeanor proceedings to an early end, urging the county prosecutor to drop the charges," said Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, also present in court on Thursday. "The longer Notre Dame presses these ND88 prosecutions, the more estranged the University will become from pro-life movement." 

Earlier this year, Kirk was removed from his post with the University after it became public that, as recently as January 2010, Notre Dame has not filed charges against gay rights and anti-ROTC activists who protested on campus without permission, unlike the way Notre Dame treated the 88 pro-life demonstrators who were arrested and charged in May 2009. The Thomas More Society contends that Kirk's testimony could shed light on what prompted the University's differential treatment of protesters and help prove that the ND88 were victims of "viewpoint discrimination," in violation of the First Amendment, as campus police who made the arrests were exercising statutory authority vested in them by state law. Notre Dame's president Fr. John Jenkins has maintained that all protesters were and are treated equally. 

For more information on the case, visit

About the Thomas More Society
Founded in 1997, the Thomas More Society is a national public interest law firm that exists to restore respect for life in law. Based in Chicago, the Thomas More Society defends the sanctity of human life, the family and religious liberty in courtrooms across the country. The Society is a nonprofit organization wholly supported by private donations. For more information or to support the work of Thomas More Society, please visit