Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Eugene Register-Guard (08-02-07)

The Eugene Register-Guard
In final sentencing, judge upholds defendant's term
By Bill Bishop
Thursday, August 2, 2007

A federal judge on Wednesday reimposed a four-year, three-month prison sentence on Jonathan Christopher Mark Paul, a longtime leader in the radical environmental movement and the last of 10 defendants indicted and sentenced in Eugene for conspiracy to commit arson to promote their views.

Paul's lawyer, Marc Blackman of Portland, disputed the sentence during a June 5 hearing, claiming the judge lacked authority or failed to follow the law to set the prison term. U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken set Wednesday's hearing to settle the matter. She ultimately refuted Blackman's objections and let her sentence stand.

Additionally, Aiken ordered Paul to read the best-selling book "Three Cups of Tea," and to write a book review for her before reporting to prison on Oct. 1. The book is a true account of Greg Mortenson's effort to combat terrorism by building 55 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Aiken also read a lengthy letter she received from Paul's co-defendant Stanislas Meyerhoff, who is serving a 13-year prison term - the longest meted to any in the conspiracy. Meyerhoff has repeatedly renounced violence, cooperated with authorities and pledged to work peacefully to help others and improve society. Meyerhoff's letter recounted his work teaching Spanish and English to fellow inmates.

Paul also has publicly renounced arson as a means to end animal suffering and environmental exploitation. He refused to name others in the conspiracy when he signed a plea deal to settle his case.

In court, Aiken challenged him to "walk the walk," and prove through his actions in prison and after his release that his stated commitment to nonviolence is true. She told Paul on Wednesday that Meyerhoff's letter and Mortenson's book are meant to inspire him to find his own ways of coming back into the community.

"Sentences have to be about giving people a chance to be held accountable by society and yet come back and be productive," Aiken told him. "I read that (Meyerhoff's letter) because he is walking a path you say you'll walk. And I expect the same."

Aiken has taken time during each of the 10 sentencing hearings to offer similar guidance tailored to each of the defendants in the conspiracy. She compared Paul's inherited wealth, intelligence, education and family support with the relative poverty and social obstacles Mortenson overcame to build schools in Asia.

"You can do far better than what you did," she told Paul.

In a public statement after court, Paul, 41, urged fellow activists to reject arson as a weapon in their fight.

In earlier statements he said he rejected arson after helping burn down the Cavel West horse meat packing plant in Redmond in 1997. He became a volunteer firefighter / medical technician and went on more than 2,000 calls in Southern Oregon - once treating a man whom he knew was a bear poacher, another time rescuing a three-week-old kitten on a highway.

On Wednesday he said arson defiles the belief that all life is sacred and violates the tenet of nonviolence embraced by the environmental movement.
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