Pro-Life Pastor Walter Hoye Sentenced to Jail for Violating City Law

Pro-life Pastor Walter Hoye was found guilty of violating "The Bubble Law," a city law that provides an 8-foot buffer zone between pro-life protesters and women entering the abortion clinics. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and ordered to stay 100 yards away from the clinic where he was arrested for the next three years.

According to the Oakland Tribune, Pastor Walter Hoye, is the first person charged and found guilty of the city's two-year-old law and must also pay $1,130 in fines and remain on probation for three years after either serving his 30 days in county jail or entering an alternative program run by the sheriff's department.

Pastor Hoye's case, has garnered national attention from Christians and pro-life supporters, many of whom traveled from as far as Dallas in support of the beloved pastor, who they said was having his First Amendment rights taken away. Some believe that he was especially targetted by the abortion clinics.

As reported by the Tribune, the courtroom's atmosphere was charged and filled with both pro-choice and pro-life activists. Supporters of both groups also crammed the hallways of the courthouse before the hearing and shouted at each other as they jockeyed for a seat.

The ruling was made by Alameda Superior Court Judge Stuart Hing.

The tensions flared after the hearing. One pro-lifer wrestled with sheriff's deputies as he shouted at the judge, condemning him for placing Hoye in jail, while others sang "We Shall Overcome." Many Christians were shocked at the news of Pastor Walter Hoye's arrest and believed he was convicted wrongly.

“It is my prayer that God’s name be glorified and the life of His Son Jesus Christ be revealed in me,” said Hoye while he awaited his sentence.

"It's not an issue of pro-life or pro-choice, it's about the ability of a man to stand up and speak his truth," said Dion Evans, shortly before he was restrained by sheriff's deputies as he shouted at the judge.

Judge Hing said he received stacks of letters in support of Hoye. Perhaps they helped to reduce the sentence. Pastor Hoye was facing up to two years in jail and $4000 in fines.

Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Robert Graff, who tried the case, argued that Hoye was not an innocent man standing on a sidewalk with a sign but someone who violated a city law.

"To suggest that he was merely holding a sign on the sidewalk does not speak to the totality of what is going on here," Graff said. "This is a balancing of rights here. These people's rights have to be balanced as well."

Hoye's defense attorneys, paid for by the Life Legal Defense Foundation, argued, at times with tears in their eyes, that the law was unconstitutional and that a punishment of jail was cruel and unusual.

Graff, who agreed Hoye should not be placed in jail, suggested the Judge place him on probation for 3 years with an order to stay 100 yards away from the abortion clinic. Graff said, "If Hoye did not agree to that, he should be sent to county jail for two years."

Hing sentenced Hoye to 30 days in jail with the option of entering a sheriff work-release program that allows him to do sheriff-sponsored community service in exchange for jail time.

Hoye was warned with a threat that if he was found approaching women at the abortion clinic in the future, he would be in violation of his probation and could face additional time in jail.

Meanwhile, Life Legal Defense Foundation is challenging the city's law in federal court.