30 July 2005
COLORADO: CPT reservist Bill Durland defends wife of U.S. Army C.O.
Because Amy Bartell had supported the decision of her husband Dale to become
a Conscientious Objector (C.O.), Military Police served her with a warrant
in May 2005, charging her with "enticing/harboring a deserter." Dale
Bartell called CPT reservist Bill Durland, a lawyer at the Center on Law and
Human Rights, for help.
In February 2005, Dale Bartell contacted his 1st Sergeant, asking him to
initiate a C.O. application, which can take up to nine months. The 1st
Sergeant said he would do so, but did not. Bartell went Absent Without
Leave (AWOL) twice rather than allowing the army to deploy him overseas.
(He had already served a tour of duty in Iraq.) Eventually he moved out to
Ca�on City near Skyline Mennonite church, which he and his wife had joined
when the army transferred them to Ft. Carson military base. Before Amy
Bartell left to join him, Military Police (M.P.) served her with a warrant
ordering her to appear in Federal Court on 20 July for aiding and abetting
Durland put Dale Bartell in touch with military defense attorneys and agreed
to take on the case of his wife, Amy.
After accepting a guilty plea recommended by his military attorneys--whom
Durland believes did an effective job of representing him-- Bartell
testified at a 12 July court martial that he avoided hazardous duty because
his convictions would not allow him to carry a gun. The army argued that
his AWOLS took precedence over his C.O. status. Because members of his
church and fellow soldiers testified to Dale Bartell's sincerity, the court
imposed a relatively lenient sentence of four months in jail and a "bad
conduct" discharge. He is currently serving his time in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.
Durland informed the U.S. attorney that the warrant served to Amy Bartell
was invalid and that she had never admitted any guilt as the M.P.s claimed.
The U.S. attorney decided not to proceed with the case on 27 July 2005.
Bill Durland, in a 28 July 2005 e-mail to supporters of the Bartells wrote,
"the conclusion seems to be that C.O. status no longer has any legal import
and the military is free to do whatever it wants. If we let people die from
hunger and thirst at our borders, care little about freedom of expression
and are willing to detain people without existing constitutional rights, how
can we expect a politically autocratic, economically socialist, and
religiously empty organization such as the military to do otherwise?"