Law and Disorder Radio

Archives for August, 2007

Law and Disorder August 27, 2007


Lawyers You’ll Like: James Lafferty Executive Dir. of the National Lawyers Guild in Los Angeles

James Lafferty is currently the Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild in Los Angeles and host of The Lawyers Guild Show, a weekly public affairs program on Pacifica radio station KPFK, 90.7 FM.

He has served as a chief officer of, and spokesperson for, various national anti-war coalitions, including the National Peace Action Coalition, the anti-Vietnam War coalition that organized the largest protests during that war; the National Coalition for Peace in the Middle East; and, the National Campaign to End U.S. Intervention in the Philippines. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, his law firm, Lafferty, Reosti, Jabara, Papakian & Smith, represented virtually all of the left political movements in and around Detroit, Michigan, during which time he became one of this nation’s leading experts on Selective Service law and military law.

In the early ‘80’s, Mr. Lafferty founded and chaired the largest A.C.L.U. Chapter in the State of Michigan. In New York City, in the late 80’s and early ‘90s, he traveled the world organizing on behalf of the labor rights of merchant seafarers. During this time he also taught a course at the New School for Social Research, entitled, Vietnam: The War at Home and Abroad. More recently, he was the Coordinator of the L.A. Coalition to Stop the Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal, as well as a member of the national steering committee of the Campaign to Stop the Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal.


He currently serves on the Board of the L.A.-based Office of the Americas and on the steering committee of the anti-war coalition, International ANSWER/L.A. Mr. Lafferty has recently been elected as a Fellow of the L.A. Institute for the Humanities, at the University of Southern California.



Government Aims to Block Accountability for Illegal Spying on Americans

In the wake of Congress approving a dramatic expansion of U.S. warrant-less wiretapping powers, the Center for Constitutional Rights has argued that the NSA’s program is unconstitutional and should be struck down. The argument in CCR v. Bush comes after Congress and the Bush administration passed the Protect America Act of 2007 which broadly expands the government’s power to spy on Americans without getting court approval.

The law effectively removes oversight for spying from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court or FISA court and leaves it up to the Executive Branch to monitor itself, with Attorney General Gonzales having the primary responsibility for oversight. The arguments are being heard at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco

Guest – Shayana Kadidal attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Check out Shane’s Blog – “Something remarkable and disturbing is happening in this case and in others across the country” challenging the NSA’s warrantless spying on Americans, wrote the lawyers in the case in Oregon challenging NSA surveillance of domestic attorney-client phone calls. “The executive branch of our federal government, disregarding the admonition that ‘[d]emocracies die behind closed doors,’ is attempting to draw a veil of secrecy over judicial proceedings to determine whether the warrantless eavesdropping program, itself kept secret for years, is unlawful.”

Law and Disorder August 20, 2007


Prison Legal News Settlement

When we think of doctor closing a wound many things come to mind – sutures, staples, band aids or the like. It might astound many to learn that some doctors use Krazy glue on inmate patients. During a time when government transparency is nearly obsolete, we find the few that act as beacons of hope. When he first requested the records for medical malpractice cases involving inmates in 2000, Paul Wright never imagined how much trouble it would be.


After six years of legal battles over alterations to original documents and failure to produce crucial records in a timely fashion, Mr. Wright finally has his records, a story and the biggest public records related settlement in Washington state history of $541,000.

Guest – Paul Wright, editor of Prison Legal News, a publication that looks into our correctional facilities and reports on prisoner’s rights. Paul is also on the board of the National Lawyers Guild.



Police Brutality – Dr. Catherine Wilkerson Case

Police used excessive force when they attacked peaceful protestors who rallied at a University of Michigan event sponsored by the American Movement for Israel. As the senior medical professional on scene, Dr. Catherine Wilkerson took responsibility for the well-being of a middle-aged man who claimed he couldn’t breath and lost consciousness. She exhorted the police to get off of him, and was allowed to check his pulse and breathing.

Wilkerson later protested when Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel breached ethical medical practices by forcing ammonia into the man’s nostrils and face. It was at this time that she was physically assaulted and detained by Ann Arbor police.

No charges were filed until after Dr. Wilkerson wrote a complaint to authorities about the actions of the police officers. A week since writing the letter, Dr. Wilkerson was charged by the Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brian Mackie’s office, at the request of the UM police, with two attempted felonies—one against Officer Warner and one against the EMS personnel.


Guest – Buck Davis, he’s a National Lawyer’s Guild attorney with the Police Accountability Project working on this case.


Hear and watch video of incident

Law and Disorder – August 13, 2007


Children In Conflict With The Law: The U.S. Leads The World In Sentencing Children To Life Without Parole.

There are more than 2000 child offenders serving life without parole sentences in U.S. prisons for crimes committed before they reached the age of 18. The United States is one of few countries in the world that permit children to serve a life sentence without parole. Forty-two states currently have laws allowing children to receive life without parole sentences. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by every country in the world except the United States and Somalia, forbids this practice, and at least 132 countries have rejected the sentence altogether.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have published a 130 page report on this topic called The Rest of Their Lives (PDF). The statistics are staggering and includes four juvenile offenders in South Africa, one in Tanzania and five in Israel. It is based on self-reported cases found in these countries’ reports to the U.N. International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). While many of the child offenders are now adults, 16 percent were between 13 and 15 years old at the time they committed their crimes. An estimated 59 percent were sentenced to life without parole for their first-ever criminal conviction.

Alison Parker historically references where these laws came from. In the United Kingdom the sentence was known as “Detention During Her Majesty’s Pleasure”, the only sentence available to the courts for a person convicted of murder who was aged over 10 but under 18 at the time of the offence.


Guest – Alison Parker, Senior Researcher at Human Rights Watch. Alison says she is among many helping to change the legislation that incarcerate children permanently without rehabilitative options.

Guest – David Berger, attorney with O’Melveny & Myers. David is a former researcher for the Amnesty International report.



Bernadine Dohrn

Bernadine Dohrn joins Law and Disorder to discuss juvenile justice and the development of Draconian laws for children in conflict with the law. Bernadine is a clinical professor at the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University in Chicago. Bernadine is also the former leader of the Weathermen. She now serves on the board of numerous human rights committees and teaches comparative law. Since 2002, she has served as a Visiting Law Faculty at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam.

Law and Disorder August 6, 2007


Mohammed Salah Sentenced to 21 Months

Here on Law and Disorder we’ve followed the pivotal moments in the Mohammed Salah case. Earlier this year, Salah was cleared of terrorism charges but recently convicted of lying about his ties to the Palestinian group Hamas. He faces nearly two years in prison. The sentence for a minor charge of obstruction of justice comes as a major setback for prosecutors who have spent a decade investigating charges that could have put Salah behind bars for life.

Guest – Michael Deutsch, Mohammed Salah’s attorney with the People’s Law Office in Chicago.


David ColeThe Grand Inquisitors

In his latest article in the New York Review of Books, David Cole, professor of law at Georgetown University reviews several books including, John Ashcroft’s Never Again: Securing America and Restoring Justice, General Ashcroft: Attorney at War by Nancy V. Baker and It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush, by Joe Conason and also Unchecked and Unbalanced: Presidential Power in a Time of Terror by Frederick A.O. Schwarz Jr. and Aziz Z. Huq.

These publications create an outline of how former Attorney General John Ashcroft helped create a platform that allowed the Bush administration to torture, allow coerced confessions and hold defendants indefinitely without trial.

Guest – Georgetown Law Professor David Cole



Law and Disorder Series: Lawyers You’ll Like – Peter Weiss, Vice President of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Peter Weiss is Vice-President, former President, of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms and its US affiliate, the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy; Vice-President, Federation Internationale des ligues des Droits de l’Homme; and Vice-President, Center for Constitutional Rights. Mr. Weiss is a graduate of Yale Law School and has lectured and written widely on the international law of war and peace, nuclear weapons and human rights. He was the principal author of the draft brief on the illegality of threat or use of nuclear weapons used by many countries in making written submissions to the International Court of Justice in the 1996 nuclear weapons advisory opinion, and served as counsel to Malaysia at the hearings.

He has published several articles on the ICJ opinion, including in the fall 1997 issue of Transnational Law and Contemporary Problems. Mr. Weiss is also a leading human rights lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, and litigated the seminal case establishing the right of victims of torture to sue their torturers in US courts (Filartiga v. Pena-Irala). Since his retirement in 1996 from Weiss Dawid Fross Zelnick & Lehrman, a leading trademark firm, he has been Senior Intellectual Property Counsel to The Chanel Company Limited. He is also a founder and former President of the American Committee on Africa and former Chairman of the Board of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington. He has also long been an activist for peace in the Middle East and is currently a member of the Arab-Jewish Peace Group in New York and of the Executive Committee of Americans for Peace Now, which supports the Peace Now movement in Israel.


Visit Michael Ratner’s Blog for news on the progressive frontlines.


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