Nuclear-Weapons Protesters Lose Bid to Use Special Defense

Times Staff Writer

A group of 11 nuclear-weapons protesters have lost their bid to put the weapons issue on trial, which was their main aim when they brought about their arrests last February by blocking busloads of defense contractors at a Costa Mesa hotel.

Superior Court Judge William Thomson on Monday denied a defense request that the group, known as the WINCON 11, be permitted a defense of necessity: that they were compelled to block the buses because only by being arrested could they bring adequate attention to the nuclear-weapons issue.

Harbor Municipal Judge Chris Strople told potential jurors as the proceedings began three months ago that a defense of necessity would make for an interesting trial but that he would leave such a decision to a higher court.


Marion Pack, one of the 11, said Tuesday that the co-defendants she had talked to have all agreed to go to trial, rather than plead guilty or continue the appeal.

“If we are found guilty, then we’ll appeal,” Pack said. “I don’t think we can have our fair day in court unless we are allowed to present our defense of necessity.”

The 11 were arrested during a weeklong demonstration outside the Westin South Coast Plaza, which was host to delegates to the annual Winter Conference of Aerospace and Electronics Systems. The conference is known as WINCON, and most of the delegates are defense contractors.

The delegates were aboard buses heading for the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station when the protesters blocked their path.

The district attorney’s office charged the 11, most of whom were members of the Alliance for Survival, with obstructing a sidewalk, a misdemeanor.