Thomas More Society Files Emergency Appeal of Lower Court Decision Denying Lauren Handy's Release from Jail Pending Sentencing

September 8, 2023
Tom Ciesielka

On August 31, 2023, Thomas More Society attorneys filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to reverse a lower court ruling denying pro-life advocate Lauren Handy’s immediate release from jail. On, September 5, 2023, Thomas More Society filed a motion and legal argument supporting the appeal.

Citing their conviction for a “crime of violence,” U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered Handy and her four co-defendants be immediately detained on August 29, 2023, after a jury in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia found them guilty of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, as well as a conspiracy against ‘rights,’ in United States of America v. Lauren Handy, et al. The charges were brought a year and a half after their pro-life peaceful protest outside and inside a Washington, D.C. abortion facility in October 2020.

In both the original motion and the appeal, Thomas More Society attorneys argue that under federal statute and binding precedent from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court, the FACE Act is not categorically a “crime of violence,” and should not lead to pre-sentencing detention. The only basis for a finding of the use of force was when an overzealous clinic worker rushed at the pro-life advocates and tried to forcibly remove them from the clinic waiting room, resulting in her twisting an ankle. There was no allegation that Ms. Handy or her co-defendants intended to harm anyone. In fact, Ms. Handy and her co-defendants were united in their commitment to non-violence.

Read the complete filing for Defendant Lauren Handy’s Emergency Motion Filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for Release Pending Sentencing, here.