By Editorial Staff
Published December 23, 1999
Judge: Lawyer abandoned case
By Bridget Hall, Staff Writer, Ocala Star-Banner
OCALA, FL — A federal judge has dismissed the abortion clinic’s lawsuit against local law enforcement and anti-abortion protesters, ruling that Dr. James Pendergraft’s attorney has abandoned the case.
Pendergraft’s attorney, Roy Lucas, has failed to respond to numerous motions filed since August, leaving U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges to conclude Dec. 16 that Pendergraft no longer wanted to pursue the case.
Attorneys for the city, county and anti-abortion protesters said they began asking three months ago for the case to be dismissed because Lucas was not responding to their requests or providing any information.
“The city’s position was, what is your proof that all of these horrible things you say are happening are happening, and what are your damages?” city attorney Patrick Gilligan said. “They wouldn’t produce that.”
Lucas did not respond to requests for comment, and Pendergraft’s spokeswoman Marti Mackenzie said the doctor had not yet seen the judge’s ruling.
“Dr. Pendergraft still believes his claims are valid,” Mackenzie said. “He’s anxious to talk with his attorney and see what the next step is.”
Pendergraft filed suit just over a year ago against the City of Ocala, the Ocala Police Department, Marion County and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, saying his right to equal protection under the law was violated when both law enforcement agencies denied his requests for a special duty officer to guard the Ocala Women’s Center.
Both agencies allow officers to work special security assignments in addition to their regular hours. The officers are uniformed, armed and have full arrest powers, but they are paid by the businesses that request them.
Ocala Police Chief Morrey Deen said he denied the clinic’s request because a police officer guarding the clinic could give the appearance of law enforcement taking sides in the heated abortion debate. The sheriff’s office denied the request because the clinic is within the city limits, which is OPD’s jurisdiction.
Pendergraft also sued the Rev. Ed Martin, Meredith Raney and 10 other unnamed abortion clinic protesters, saying they were harassing clinic personnel and patients.
Martin has vehemently denied the charges, saying he and the protesters are simply exercising their free speech rights on a public sidewalk. Raney said he has nothing to do with the case because he has never even been to the Ocala clinic.
“Of all of the allegations in the complaint, none of them had any resemblance to what happened,” said Martin’s attorney, Mathew Staver. “Where (Lucas) got that information was from the imagination of his own mind. When it came time for him to prove it, he couldn’t and he didn’t.”
Pendergraft, who wears a bullet-proof vest and army-style helmet to the clinic because he said he fears for his safety, filed the suit to get police protection, restrict the protesters’ activities and recover unspecified monetary damages.
Hodges ruled in April that until the case came to trial, Ocala Police could not refuse Pendergraft’s request for an officer. Pendergraft had an officer for one day, but then refused to sign OPD’s revamped contract for the special duty program.
The clinic has not had a police officer guarding it since then, Gilligan said.
Pendergraft’s suit also asked that protesters be banned from coming within 75 feet or bringing any surveillance equipment or weapons within 1500 feet of the abortion clinic.
If Pendergraft had his way, protests outside the clinic would have been limited to no more than five picketers gathering for only one hour twice a week. He also wanted the court to prevent protesters from having pictures on their signs and require the signs to carry a disclaimer saying abortion is medically safe and legal.
Hodges refused in April to impose those restrictions on the protesters until the case could come to trial, saying the protesters have acted within their First Amendment rights.
Martin said the restrictions were ridiculous — and unnecessary.
“Nobody’s ever brought a weapon,” Martin said. “We’re just out there as nonviolent protesters to something we think is wrong, and offering assistance to women going in. We’ve never had a problem with the police.”
Attorneys for the numerous defendants said they would ask the appellate court to force Pendergraft to pay for their costs from this “frivolous” lawsuit. Gilligan said the cost to the city has been at least $15,000, and Staver estimated the costs for all parties at about $75,000.
This case is the second abortion clinic lawsuit handled by Lucas to be dismissed in recent months.
In September, U.S. District Judge G. Kendall Sharp dismissed a suit by the Aware Woman Center for Choice in Orlando against CompuServe, America Online, Meredith Raney and 16 other protesters.
The suit, which Lucas filed in January for clinic owner Patricia Windle, alleged that Raney and the other protesters harassed clinic personnel and patients, using those Internet providers’ databases to get personal information about them.
Sharp dismissed that suit because, as with the Ocala Women’s Center suit, Lucas had failed to respond to several motions and serve many of the defendants with the necessary paperwork.
Forerunner - Home » Florida's Murder Industry »
Your comments are welcome!
Download the Free Study Guide!
God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.
Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!
Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:
1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?
Perfect for group instruction as well as personal Bible study.
Ten parts, over four hours of instruction!
Running Time: 240 minutes
Watch over 60 on-line video interviews from God’s Law and Society.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Download the free Study Guide!
Is there a connection between pagan religion and the abortion industry?
This powerful presentation traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God and crime against humanity has produced in our beleaguered society.
Conceived as a sequel and update to the 1988 classic, The Massacre of Innocence, the new title, The Abortion Matrix, is entirely fitting. It not only references abortion’s specific target – the sacred matrix where human beings are formed in the womb in the very image of God, but it also implies the existence of a conspiracy, a matrix of seemingly disparate forces that are driving this holocaust.
The occult activity surrounding the abortion industry is exposed with numerous examples. But are these just aberrations, bizarre yet anomalous examples of abortionists who just happen to have ties to modern day witchcraft? Or is this representative of something deeper, more sinister and even endemic to the entire abortion movement?
As the allusion to the film of over a decade ago suggests, the viewer may learn that things are not always as they appear to be. The Abortion Matrix reveals the reality of child-killing and strikes the proper moral chord to move hearts to fulfill the biblical responsibility to rescue those unjustly sentenced to death and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9).
Speakers include: George Grant, Peter Hammond, RC Sproul Jr., Paul Jehle, Lou Engle, Rusty Thomas, Flip Benham, Janet Porter and many more.
Ten parts, over three hours of instruction!
Running Time: 195 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Special Two-Disc Set!
After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.
Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.
$49.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.
Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
$9.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)