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Cabell judge denies restraining order against energy protest

Nov. 12, 2013 @ 11:12 AM

HUNTINGTON – Cabell Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell denied a restraining order sought by St. Mary’s Medical Center, as its conference center prepares to host a Tuesday evening energy symposium.

St. Mary’s sought the order against protesters in fear a rally planned by the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition may interrupt patient care or access to its conference center.

Attorneys representing the planned protest argued any such restraining order would infringe upon First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly.

Farrell , in denying the restraining order, acknowledged the protesters’ intent to stay off St. Mary’s property. He also suggested St. Mary’s Medical Center place the Huntington Police Department on notice, perhaps even have officers on standby if any incident would occur.

OHVEC plans to hold its protest at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the intersection of 5th Avenue and 29th Street. It plans a peaceful, lawful protest that will not trespass onto the hospital’s property, according to its representation in court.

The protest will coincide with the Chamber’s Energy and Natural Resource Symposium, which is planned for 3 p.m. Tuesday at St. Mary’s conference center. The keynote address will be given by Robert M. “Mike” Duncan, president and CEO for the American Coalition Electricity, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and promoting the use of coal.

An attorney representing St. Mary’s told the court the medical facility has no position on coal, which is the subject of Tuesday’s rally and symposium.

Read full coverage from Tuesday’s symposium and rally in Wednesday’s edition of The Herald-Dispatch.

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