Pro-life sidewalk counselor, U.S. Attorney General settle lawsuit
LOUISVILLE, Ky., Jan. 10, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After a three-year legal process, a pro-life sidewalk counselor has settled with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who filed suit against him under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE).
David Hamilton was arrested in January 2010 after crossing through a line of pro-abortion protesters who had blocked the sidewalk in front of a downtown Louisville abortion clinic. He was speaking to an abortion-bound woman at the time.
According to the original complaint filed by Holder, Hamilton had “grabbed and pushed a volunteer clinic escort” – a charge that the pro-life activist has denied. While local police initially dropped the charges, Holder filed suit against Hamilton a year later.
The Attorney General asked for a $15,000 fine against Hamilton and $5,000 in compensation. He also sought an order preventing the pro-life activist from approaching within eight feet of women seeking abortions.
Dana Cody, Executive Director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, who provided legal assistance to Hamilton, says the pro-life activist decided to settle for a “nominal amount” to bring closure to the case. She said the settlement also prevents further attempts by Holder to pursue an injunction against Hamilton.
“This case has been dismissed without an injunction, without a fine, and for a nominal amount,” she said.
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Cody has argued from the beginning that the charges against Hamilton were baseless, and part of a “campaign of intimidation” by the Obama administration. Eric Holder’s pro-abortion connections are well known.
“The initial charges against Hamilton were appropriately dismissed by the local police,” said Cody. “This case is just one of many lawsuits [Holder] has filed against pro-lifers in minor situations.”
She pointed out that many of the FACE cases filed by Holder have already been resolved or decided in favor of pro-life advocates, although at the cost of considerable taxpayer money and the infringement of citizen rights.
The agreed-upon settlement will go to pro-abortion protester Jane Fitts, who the Attorney General contends Hamilton jostled while crossing the protest line. However, according to Cody, Hamilton denied being the jostler and no witnesses, including Fitts, ever identified him as such.
In September of last year, a federal judge hit the brakes on the case when the Attorney General’s office petitioned for a summary judgment. The judge denied the petition, saying that the Attorney General had not sufficiently proved his case.
The Life Legal Defense Foundation provided support for attorneys Michael Hirsh of Atlanta and Vince Heuser of Louisville, who represented Hamilton.
Last year a federal judge issued a strong rebuke against the Justice Department for its aggressive actions against one pro-life activist. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp wrote in a scathing ruling that he was “at a loss as to why the Government chose to prosecute this particular case in the first place.” The judge went on to speculate that the case was the result of a conspiracy between the government and a Florida abortion clinic.
The Justice Department subsequently dropped the charges in that case and agreed to pay $120,000 in attorney’s fees.