Law and Disorder Radio

Law and Disorder April 20, 2009

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Mumia Exception: Supreme Court Denies Appeal For Mumia Abu-Jamal

In early April the Supreme Court denied a petition for writ of certiorari in the longstanding case of Mumia Abu Jamal. The appeal to the high Court included an examination of the so-called culture of discrimination operative among Philadelphia prosecutors. It cited 11 separate rulings in which federal and Pennsylvania state courts specifically faulted Philadelphia prosecutors for engaging in intentional discrimination during jury selection.  Mumia Exception

Citing dozens of court rulings nationwide, it noted a U.S. Supreme Court ruling where one justice used a statistical study documenting Philadelphia prosecutors purging potential Black jurors at twice the rate of whites during death penalty trials between 1981 and 1997.

Linn Washington:

  • Courts, be they city courts in Philadelphia, apellate courts in Pennsylvania or federal courts at the trial level and appeals level,
  • they will either ignore or alter their established rulings, their precedent . . .when it comes to the Mumia case.
  • In Mumia’s case, we have a situation where police actually, withheld evidence, they altered evidence, we now know this clearly, but the courts have helped suppress that
  • Prison authorities have barred photographing or recording for broadcast purposes of inmates in institutions, just as a way to get at Mumia. You can go in with a notebook and pen.
  • Batson Case: In the first 3 years of prosecution in Mumia’s trial, there was deliberate purging of black people from the jurors, for racially discriminatory purposes.
  • A video tape had surfaced of a training session, a formal training session in the office, where a senior prosecutor was instructing other prosecuters,  on how to purge blacks for juries,  in a way that it would mask what they’re doing and thus get around the Batson ruling.
  • In March 2008, the US Supreme Court issued relief to an inmate on death row in Louisiana, citing Batson, the essence of it was, if there was one provable instance of discrimination against a black juror – you would have a new trial.
  • Two months later, the US Third Circuit, ignored that ruling and created new law, new restriction, higher burden for inmates to raise, in Batson cases.
  • Justice Samuel Alito had initially ruled if one legal juror was discriminated against, it was provable, . . to get a new trial – Batson case.  Then he changed his view.
  • Here we had an award winning journalist, at that time the head of the black journalist association in Philadelphia.
  • This has been fascinating in terms of the police withholding evidence, perjury, intimidating witnesses, prosecuters engaged in egregious misconduct and judges from the trial court level, all the up to the US Supreme Court ignoring their duty to justice
  • Regarding Judge Sabo’s remark ” to fry that n-word” a court stenographer overheard this and years later came forward to make it public.


Guest –  Linn Washington is an Associate Professor of Journalism at Temple University in Philadelphia and a weekly columnist for The Philadelphia Tribune – America’s oldest black owned newspaper. He has reported on the Abu-Jamal case for nearly thirty years.
Linn Washington is currently writing a book on police brutality, the thesis is why we have police brutality. We have a continuation of police brutality decade after decade because prosecutors actually aid by ignoring the misconduct of officers.

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peltier

Leonard Peltier: Update On A Political Prisoner

Leonard Peltier is a Native American activist who was convicted of killing two FBI agents during a shootout on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975. He was recently transferred back to prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania after being attacked and beaten. Leonard Peltier was also denied clemency by the Bush Administration, the request had been pending for 8 years.  He is featured in the recently published book, Let Freedom Ring, A Collection of Documents From the Movements to Free US Political Prisoners, brings together the voices of numerous US political prisoners who have taken great risk and sacrifice to stand up for human and civil rights.

Political prisoners such as Leonard Peltier,  receive some of the harshest treatment behind bars, such as torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, they’re also subjected to disproportionately lengthy prison sentences.  Attorney Michael Kuzma will give us an update on Leonard Peltier’s current condition and case.

Michael Kuzmar

  • Two FBI agents, Kohler and Williams allegedly had a warrant they were trying to serve on Jimmy Eagle, who had allegedly stolen some cowboy boots.  They went to execute the warrant, a fire fight erupted and the next thing you know, Joe Stunts and the two agents are dead.  Subsequently, Leonard Peltier, Bob Robado, Dino Butler, were charged with murdering the two agents.
  • For Leonard Peltier’s case it was tragic in that the lead attorney Eliot Takiff, had never tried a murder case before, you had an unfriendly judge and the prosecutors had a field day with ramping up the fear.
  • When Bill Kunstler picked up the case on a Habeas, after losing appeals. It was about the bullet not matching.
  • There was a balistics report that was withheld from defense attorneys in 1977, it was later unearthed by John Privatera and Michael Tigar.
  • When Leonard was arrested on February 6, 1976, he was with an individual named Frank Blackhorse.  Blackhorse was wanted for several offenses and indicted in 1973 for wounding at FBI agent at Wounded Knee.
  • The most curious thing about this case is that Frank Blackhorse is not extradicted, he’s allowed to roam free in Western Canada. Turns out also, Frank Blackhorse isn’t his real name.
  • The head of security for the American Indian Movement was a paid FBI operative.
  • Based on the work I’ve done with the FOIA requests, its clear that along with others in the AIM, Leonard Peltier had been targeted by the FBI under Cointel Pro.
  • We’ve been fighting to get documents that show how the FBI used a host of dirty tricks against Leonard.
  • One of the prosecutors who is now retired, Len Krooks, has publicly stated that they don’t know who shot the agents.
  • What we discovered is that the government turned over 3500 pages of material to Leonard’s defense attorneys and said this is all we have. As a result of a FOIA case brought in the late seventies we discovered the FBI had 18 thousand pages of material.
  • Twelve thousand pages were released, 6 thousand pages withheld. Then as a result of another FOIA request in 2001 we found the FBI had 142, 579 pages of material.
  • We have a suit still pending, we’re waiting for a decision from the court of appeals, for the 8th circuit. We’re trying to get 90 thousand pages, that’s what we’re sueing for.  The government is fighting to hold onto 11 thousand pages of material. The reason they say is that the material if released will hamper the nation’s war on trans-national terrorism.
  • The FBI can’t afford to have this information come out, because if people learned how extensive the informants and under cover agents were
  • Leonard Peltier will be 65 on September 12, 2009. He has diabetes, his eyesight is not the best. There’s no threat whatsoever if Leonard was released today. William Kunstler believed Peltier did not shoot the FBI agents.
  • Leonard is considered to be an old law inmate.
  • Leonard had been in Ft. Leavenworth Prison and was transferred to the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary. He was then transfere
  • January 13th. Leonard was brutally attacked by two other inmates and suffered a possible concussion, he was kicked around the ribcage, he’s having headaches, his knee was bruised.
  • What we’ve been hoping to do is get Leonard transferred to a medium security prison, he’s eligible.

Guest –  Michael Kuzma, attorney for Leonard Peltier.  As many know, Leonard Peltier is a Native American activist who was convicted of killing two FBI agents during a shootout on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975. He was recently transferred back to prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania after being attacked and beaten. Leonard Peltier was also denied clemency by the Bush Administration, the request had been pending for 8 years.

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