Federal Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley Jr. issued an order Wednesday granting Sister Megan Rice temporary release from a detention center in Ocilla, Ga. — where she and the other two Transform Now Plowshares have been held, pending their scheduled Sept. 30 sentencing on federal charges from last year’s break-in at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant. The five-day release (July 25-29) would allow the 83-year-old nun to attend the memorial service and funeral of her brother-in-law, Peter F. Finnerty Sr., at Manlius, N.Y. Mr. Finnerty was married to Rice’s sister, Madeleine Rice Finnerty, who died previously.
The release means that Rice will be free from jail on the one-year anniversary of the July 28, 2012 incident at Y-12. The order specifically states that Rice has agreed not to talk to the news media about her case while on temporary release from custody.Even though U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar ruled in May that the three were ineligible for release pending their sentencing, Shirley identified a number of circumstances and conditions that allowed for this temporary release. Among them were Rice’s past history of following rules on release and also the notation that because she is a Roman Catholic Sister her nephews and nieces and siblings are her closest relatives. She is to be accompanied during the period by her nephew Peter Finnerty Jr. and other relatives.
The U.S. government attorneys argued against the release. “With all due respect for the defendant’s loss, the government objects to this extraordinary request,” said the response to motion filed in the court record. The government argued that the same reasons for not granting an earlier motion for release pending sentencing still are applicable for this request.
KNS photo: Adam Brimer