About 35 anti-abortion demonstrators staged a low-key protest in front of the Orange County Courthouse on Friday, saying they were angry with a municipal judge’s ruling that will send two people to jail for resisting arrest during a protest last year.
The protesters, many of whom are members of Operation Rescue, said Judge James M. Brooks’ sentencing of two anti-abortion demonstrators to six months in jail was “cruel and unusual punishment.”
“You are talking about a misdemeanor crime,” said Arlene Irion, a spokeswoman for the protesters. “Sentencing someone to six months to a year in jail is equivalent to a sentence handed (down) to a repeated drunk-driving offender.”
Cuby Valdez, 36, of Bloomington in San Bernardino County, and Carolyn Martin, 24, of Anaheim, were convicted of resisting arrest during a protest at a Tustin medical clinic last April 13. Both Valdez and Martin rejected a chance for probation, opting instead for jail.
Valdez has been in custody since Jan. 9 to serve out his sentence, jail authorities said. Martin was released on bail Jan. 15, authorities said.
Friday’s protesters said that judges who think tougher sentences will deal a blow to anti-abortion protests are miscalculating the commitment to the cause.
“It’s having an opposite effect,” said Sandy Quinn, 47, of Westminster, who spent 30 days in jail in Los Angeles for similar infractions. “I’m just more determined than ever to fight the battle.”