Expert witness to the Judge
who sentenced Plowshares activists
March 27, 2000

The following letter and introduction was provided forwarded from Elizabeth McAllister of Jonah House where Susan lives.

27 March 2000

Judge James T. Smith, Jr.
Circuit Court for Baltimore County
400 Bosley Ave.
Towson MD 21204, USA

Dear Judge Smith,

Re: Ploughshares vs Depleted Uranium

You must be somewhat disturbed over the trial of Philip Berrigan, Susan Crane, Stephen Kelly, SJ, and Elizabeth Walz. Your sentencing was so excessively vindictive that I would guess that the action of these men and women deeply challenged your "faith" and belief that Catholic doctrine supported US military activity, regardless of the judgement of the Church's more prophetic members.

By eliminating expert witnesses in this case, you eliminated my testimony. I am a Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart (Motherhouse in Yardley Pennsylvania), and also President of the North American Association of Contemplative Sisters. I am also an Epidemiologist with 30 years experience with communities exposed to uranium mining and milling, and related polluting activities. I have been working for the last three years with the veterans of the Gulf War who are seriously ill. It was in recognition of my expertise in the health effects of radiation, especially from uranium compounds, that I was asked by the defendants to testify to the rationality of their actions.

In your better moments, you must find that shooting radioactive waste at one's enemy is outrageous behaviour. How much more outrageous is it to undermine the health of one's own military personnel, and the women and children of the land which you have polluted. There is no war theory which condones indiscriminate poison. By the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations, depleted uranium can be handled only by licensed and trained personnel, and all releases to the environment must be cleaned up. It is legally recognized as a poison.

I hope that even though you expressed your moral distress and confusion in an inappropriate way in the court, you will on sober reflection realize that your silencing of the defendants did not make the depleted uranium problem go away. As a Catholic Judge, you should be prepared to hear unwanted truth, and respect the righteous actions of those who clearly see and denounce a wrong. I will pray that you find a way quickly to redress the wrong which you have done and reduce the sentences of the Ploughshares defendants. Silencing the messengers and prophets has long been the pattern of behaviour of false leaders. Do not continue on this wrong path.


Dr. Rosalie Bertell, GNSH

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