Law and Disorder Radio

Archives for May, 2007

Law and Disorder May 28, 2007


Recently we brought you the voices of activists and attorneys outside the Third Circuit Court in Philadelphia all responding to the oral arguments of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Today we have a chance to talk with lead attorney Robert R. Bryan from San Francisco. As the former chair of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Mr Bryan’s career spans more than 3 decades and has included other highly political cases such as representing leaders of the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee.

Guest – Robert Bryan, lead attorney representing Mumia Abu-Jamal

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We recently broadcasted speeches from the demonstration in New York voicing opposition to the release of admitted former CIA operative, Luis Posada Carriles. He’s accused of being one of the masterminds of a l976 mid-air explosion that demolished a Cuban airliner, killing 73 people. This demonstration was among other protests worldwide including Canada, Mexico, Central and South America.

Meanwhile the Cuban Five remain in prison. Look at photographic evidence here against Luis Posada Carriles / Washington Post Article – Free Ride For A Likely Killer

We hear a riveting speech from Father Luis Barrios, pastor of La Iglesia San Romero de Las Americas

Left Forum; Prisons, Prisoners and Political Prisoners

We hear a speech by J. Soffiyah Elijah at the Left Forum. The panel is titled, Prisons, Prisoners and Political Prisoners and chaired by our own Michael Smith. Soffiyah Elijah serves as Deputy Director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School.

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Left Forum: Iraq, What’s At Stake – Anthony Arnove

We turn now to hear an excerpt of a speech from author Anthony Arnove at the Left Forum this year. The panel is titled Iraq, What’s At Stake. Anthony is the author of Iraq:The Logic of Withdrawal, examining why continuing the occupation is a wildly unrealistic and reckless strategy that makes the world a more dangerous place.

Robert R. Bryan

Robert R. Bryan
San Francisco

Robert R. Bryan has specialized in death-penalty litigation for three decades and is lead counsel in various murder cases pending at the federal and state level. He is a member of the bar of California, New York, United States Supreme Court, various federal courts, and was elected a Fellow in the American Board of Criminal Lawyers. Also, he serves on the Steering Committee, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Paris, is active in the National Lawyers Guild, New York, and formerly served as Chair of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Washington, D.C.

In 2003 Mr. Bryan became lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the African-American journalist who is Pennsylvania’s death row. They began corresponding nearly two decades ago, but Mr. Bryan was unable to take the case at that time due to other capital-case commitments.

Nr. Bryan has defended many other people against whom the death penalty was sought with the first being an acquittal in the Ammons case in Birming­ham, Alabama when the lawyer was just 26. He represented Jerry D. Bigelow who had spent years on California’s death row before being granted a new trial. Even though the evidence included the client’s 10 confessions to an execution-style murder, a Monterey County jury returned a non-guilty verdict. Another client was Larry Layton, the only person ever charged in the Peoples Temple case which concerned the death of Congress­man Leo Ryan and over 900 people in Jonestown, Guyana, at the direc­tion of Rev. Jim Jones. Mr. Bryan also defended Buddy Cochran who attacked the leadership of the Klu Klux Klan at their national convention in Plains, Georgia, near the home of the then President Jimmy Carter.

For 15 years Mr. Bryan represented Anna Hauptmann, who died at the age of 95 in 1994 in Pennsylvania. She was the widow of Richard Haupt­mann, a German immigrant who was executed in 1936 in New Jersey for the kidnap-murder of Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. The attorney uncovered evi­dence from government files establishing that the authori­ties knowingly prosecuted an innocent person and that the Trial of the Century was the greatest fraud in US legal history. He pursued litigation in New Jersey against the FBI and those who prosecuted the case in an effort to officially right the wrong. His findings are the subject of The Airman and The Carpenter by Ludovic Kennedy (Viking, Penguin), various other books, documentaries, and a movie. A section of Mur­ders Die by Denis Brian (St. Martin’s Press) is an interview with the attorney on the Hauptmann case and the death penalty. Mr. Bryan is intermittently working on a book concerning the case.

Mr. Bryan has also been counsel to members of the American Indian Movement. He won a dismissal of all murder charges again Jimmy Eagle, who was indicted for the June 26, 1975 killing of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota (Leonard Peltier, represented by others, was later convicted). Mr. Bryan represented federally Gladys Bissonette, who was actively involved in the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota. He was also the attorney for the Menominee Warrior Society during its 1975 armed occupation of the abandoned Alexian Brothers’ Novitiate near Gresham, Wisconsin. He successfully demanded that the 65-room mansion, other buildings and its acreage be returned to the Native Americans who had lived on the land long before the white man arrived.

Often Mr. Bryan speaks on the death penalty and other human-rights issues both in the U.S. and Europe. In 2007 he addressed the erd World Congress Against the Death Penalty, Paris. Since 1994 he has been doing legal commentaries for ABC News, San Francisco, and appears on other news outlets.

Mr. Bryan has written articles on the death penalty and human rights, e.g., Taking A Stand, Verdict (Jan. 1998); What Price Justice?, Parliamentary Review (England, Oct. 1997); Waco: Inferno of Rights, San Francisco Attorney (S.F. Bar Assoc., Sept., 1993), Death Penalty Trials: The Inno­cence of Jerry Bigelow and Defense Creativ­ity, Champion (National Assoc. of Crim. Defenders Law., Dec. 1993), Death Penalty Trials: Lawyers Need Help, Forum (Calif. Attys. for Crim. Justice, May-June, 1989), Champion (Aug., 1988); In Trial By Fury: The Lindbergh Case, SF Examiner (Apr. 3, 1996), he discussed the wrongfulness of the death penalty on the 60th anniversary of the execution of Richard Hauptmann in New Jersey for the Lindbergh kidnap-murder. A longer version of the article appears in the book Frontiers of Justice, Volume 1: The Death Penalty (Biddle). He demon­strated that innocent people are unavoidably put to death in any capital punishment system regard­less of precau­tions to ensure fairness, in The Execution of the Innocent: The Tragedy of the Hauptmann-Lindbergh and Bigelow Cases, 18 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 831 (1991). Dedicated Defender, Verdict (July 1998) also contains an interview with the attorney.

A chapter entitled “The Defender” in the book A Punishment In Search Of A Crime by Ian Gray and Moira Stanley (Avon Press) describes Mr. Bryan’s work in fighting capital punishment. His work is featured in Modern Trials by Melvin Belli (West). The lawyer has appeared as an expert witness regarding the minimum stan­dards of attorney compe­tence in capital cases.

The activities and memberships of Mr. Bryan have included: World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Steering Committee, Paris; National Lawyers Guild, NY; National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Chair and Board (1985-95), Washington; Chopin Foundation, Board (2004-present); Amnesty International; ACLU; National Coalition Concerned Legal Prof., Board (2000-present); Lycée Fran­­çais La Pérouse, Board (1997-98); No. Calif. Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Board and Chair (1985-92); NY State Defenders Assn.; NY State Assn. of Crim. Defenders Lawyers; Amer. Indians and the Death Penalty, Adv. Council (1985-92); Int’l Soc’ty for Prof. Hyp., Legal Adv. Board; Criminal Trial Law. Assn.; NAACP; Int’l Churchill Soc’ty; Glenn Gould Foundation.

Mr. Bryan is married to Nicole, a French citizen who is actively working on behalf of death-row clients. They live in San Francisco, but also spend time at the family home in France. Their daughter, Auda Mai, is a classical pianist and attends Rugby School, England.


Contact information:

Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123-4117

Law and Disorder May 21, 2007


Habeas Corpus Update – Take Action

Co-hosts Michael Ratner and Dalia Hashad update listeners on recent decisions regarding Guantanamo prisoners and habeas corpus. Dalia Hashad alerts listeners to upcoming event supported by a coalition of civil liberties groups.

Day of Action to Restore Law & Justice – June 26, 2007 – Sponsored by Amnesty International, the National Lawyers Guild, the Center For Constitutional Rights, the ACLU, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture and other groups in this historic Day of Action.


Demonstrators Worldwide Protest the Release of Luis Posada Carriles

In Canada, Mexico, Central and South America and across dozens of major cities in the United States, demonstrators worldwide took to the streets to protest the release of admitted former CIA operative, Luis Posada Carriles. He’s accused of being one of the masterminds of a l976 mid-air explosion that demolished a Cuban airliner, killing 73 people. Meanwhile the Cuban Five remain in prison. Look at photographic evidence here against Luis Posada Carriles / Washington Post Article – Free Ride For A Likely Killer

A message from Mumia Abu-Jamal : For over four decades, the US empire has been waging a secret and deadly war against Cuba. They have bombed fields, poisoned grain, hijacked planed, and plotted invasion. They have trained, paid and protected terrorists who have cost the lives of thousands of Cubans and virtually crippled their economy through a seemingly everlasting embargo. The Cuban Five, young men who tried to protect their people from these instances of U.S. state terrorism, who have bombed on one, nor planned to, who poisoned no one, nor planned to, who hurt non one, nor planned to, who merely reported the plotting of crimes against their people, face the full foul fury of the empire’s judiciary for trying to stop crimes. We must all, all of us protest the unjust convictions of Rene Gonzalez, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernandez and Ramon Labanino.

We hear the voices of activists and lawyers speaking at the New York protest, including former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark and our own Heidi Boghosian.


Demonstraters Show Support For Mumia Abu-Jamal

Oral arguments were heard by 3 judges last week who will decide the fate of imprisoned former Black Panther and award winning journalist, Mumia Abu-Jamal at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. Abu-Jamal has been on death row for 25 years after being convicted of killing a police officer following a controversial trial before a predominantly-white jury. The Third Circuit Court heard oral arguments that will rule whether Abu-Jamal gets life in prison, a new trial or execution. Our own Heidi Boghosian was in the courts and the streets with the hundreds of demonstrators. We hear the voices of lawyers and activists Heidi interviewed on that day outside the Third Circuit Court in Philadelphia.

Hip Hop News Update / International Herald Tribune / Crime Scene Photos

Law and Disorder May 14, 2007


Implanting RFID chips into the flesh of 200 Alzheimer’s Patients

We will be bringing you updates here on Law and Disorder on the intrusiveness of RFID technology. RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. Some are passive and can be read with scanners up to 3 feet or more. Others broadcast a specific signal. In the past we’ve discussed how big companies plan to embed the so called Spychip into clothes, credit cards, shoes and human flesh, all in the name of convenience, safety and commerce. The breach of civil liberties is staggering. Now, however, the move to inject and track human beings with RFID chips is becoming a reality.

It sounds like a scene from Steven Spielberg’s futuristic film Minority Report, but a plan is under way right now to inject chips into 200 elderly Alzheimer’s patients in Florida. The producers of the chip say implantation should always be voluntary, but many question the ethics of conducting research on medically impaired.

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Guest – Liz McIntyre, co-author of the book Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track your Every Move with RFID. She is an expert on this new technology that has literally hundreds of patent applications pending approval for a wide range of uses. Listeners – Take Action!


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John Ehrenberg : Left Forum 2007 – Bush and Company’s War on Civil Liberties and What it Means For Our Future

We listen to a speech by political scientist John Ehrenberg. He spoke at the Left Forum this year on a panel titled, Bush and Company’s War on Civil Liberties and What it Means For Our Future. John Ehrenberg is the author of the recent book “Servants of Wealth: The Right’s Assault on Economic Justice.”


This is his third book where critically analyzes the rise of an ideologically coherent “right.” He dissects their themes of military weakness, moral decay, racial anxiety, and hostility to social welfare to reveal their central organizing objective of protecting wealth and assaulting equality.

Law and Disorder May 7, 2007

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The Shaquanda Cotton Story

Last year in Paris, Texas a 14-year-old black freshman shoved a hall monitor at Paris High School in a dispute over entering the building before the school day had officially begun. Shaquanda Cotton was sentenced to 7 years in prison. She had no prior arrest record, and the hall monitor was not seriously injured. Just three months earlier, another Texas teenager of the same age was sentenced to probation for burning down her family’s house. She was white.

Joining us on Law and Disorder to discuss this case and the issue of juvenile justice in Texas on Law and Disorder is Will Harrell. Will is a former NVP and Director of the National Police Accountability Project of the National Lawyers Guild. He’s currently the Executive Director of the Texas ACLU and co-chair of the Texas Coalition Advocating Justice for Juveniles. He’s a primary advocate advancing an omnibus bill in the Texas legislature to reform the Texas Youth Commission. He was also appointed to a panel which is currently reviewing cases where a kid’s length of stay was extended in TYC and making recommendations regarding release. He successfully advocated for Shaquanda Cotton’s release.

Guest – Will Harrell, Executive Director of the Texas ACLU –  Update : Will Harrell was recently named Ombudsman for the Texas Youth Commission.

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Left Forum 2007: Deborah Small

The panel is titled, Prisons, Prisoners and Political Prisoners and chaired by our own Michael Smith. Deborah Small is the founder of Break the Chains. An organization that seeks to build a national movement within communities of color against punitive drug policies.



Brecht Forum: Joel Kovel, author of Overcoming Zionism

We go now to hear an excerpt from a speech given by author Joel Kovel. He spoke at the Brecht Forum recently about the release of his new book Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine, published by Pluto Press.

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