Pro-Life Speech in Oakland, CA Synonymous with Intimidation?

P.O. Box 2105, Napa, California 94558 — 707.224.6675
NEWS RELEASE August 14, 2008
Contact: Dana Cody, Executive Director
(916) 727-4396

OAKLAND, Calif.—Today a writ challenging Alameda Superior Court Judge Sandra K. Bean’s July 18, 2008, decision leaving a restraining order in place was filed by attorneys Mike Millen and Catherine Short, Legal Director for the Life Legal Defense Foundation. The writ was filed on behalf of African-American Pastor Walter B. Hoye, II, in the case of the People v. Hoye. The restraining order was originally sought by the Oakland District Attorney as part of prosecuting Mr. Hoye for allegedly intimidating escorts. Local officials have targeted Mr. Hoye for prosecution because he has stood on the public sidewalk in front of an abortion clinic holding a sign that read “Jesus Loves You and Your Baby. Can We Help You?”

No clinic patient has filed any complaint with the police regarding Mr. Hoye. However, it is alleged by the District Attorney that Mr. Hoye’s sign, as well as his presence at the Oakland abortion clinic, is unlawful and intimidating to escorts even though one escort testified that Mr. Hoye never used force, never threatened to use force and was never a physical obstruction. In fact, testimony given by another escort confirmed that it was the escort who had blocked Mr. Hoye with a large piece of cardboard so that his message could not be seen by anyone passing him on the public sidewalk.

Even after hearing witness testimony that exonerated Mr. Hoye, Judge Bean refused to lift the restraining order, which elicited an audible gasp from members of the public who were in attendance during the July 18th hearing. “This ruling contravenes case law that prohibits courts from issuing pre-trial stay-away orders absent evidence that the defendant threatened a witness about testifying.” said Attorney Short. “One has to wonder why local officials find Mr. Hoye or his message so intimidating.”

Hoye’s attorneys indicate that he offers his assistance to women entering the clinic because a majority of abortions are performed on black women—447,700 of 1.21 million each year in the United States. Consequently, Hoye is the plaintiff in a separate federal action that challenges the Oakland ordinance he is accused of violating because it impinges on his free speech rights. Hoye alleges that if enforced the ordinance will prevent him from speaking in order to offer assistance to women entering the clinic. The criminal prosecution of Walter Hoye exemplifies his concerns regarding the ordinance.

Life Legal Defense Foundation was established in 1989, and is a non-profit organization composed of attorneys and other concerned citizens, committed to the sanctity of human life. For more information, call Dana Cody at 916.727.4396.