Law and Disorder Radio

Archives for February, 2016


Law and Disorder February 29, 2016


Update:

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Black Women, LGBT And Police Abuse

Attorney Andrea Ritchie has dedicated the past two decades to challenging abusive and discriminatory policing against women, girls, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people of color. An accomplished litigator, she is a highly-respected commentator –and recent Soros Fellow– on policy reforms and litigation strategies addressing the ways in which discriminatory policing impacts women of color.

Guest – Andrea Ritchie is the co-author of Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States (published in 2011) and Caught in the Net, a report on women and the so-called war on drugs. She works closely with a range of local and national organizations, including Streetwise & Safe, an organization focused on policing of LGBT youth of color, and is a member of INCITE! She is also involved in #SayHerName, a gender-inclusive racial justice movement that campaigns against police brutality and anti-Black violence against black women. It aims to highlight the gender-specific ways in which police brutality and anti-Black violence disproportionately affect black women, especially black queer women and black trans women. Andrea’s Website.

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Milbank Changes Course on $1M Harvard Law School Gift after Pro-Palestine Event

Today we explore a controversy that has erupted at Harvard Law School when a prominent law firm, Milbank Tweed, discontinued a $1million grant it had given to the school after it learned that its donation helped pay for a panel on Palestine.  We’ll talk to the Harvard Law Student who organized the event, who will explain how students on campuses across the country have been met with fierce efforts to suppress discussion of Palestinian rights.

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Law and Disorder February 22, 2016


Updates:

Co-hosts Heidi Boghosian And Katherine Franke Discuss Past Decisions By The Late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

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An Evening of Solidarity: PAROLE FOR THE MOVE 9

We hear select presentations from the many speakers and performances at the Parole For The Move 9 event. In the summer of 2015 supporters of The Move Organization initiated a petition for United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch . The goal of the petition is to push the United States Attorney General to investigate the wrongful and ongoing imprisonment of The  Move 9 who have been imprisoned since August 8th 1978. Last May marked 30 years since the unconscionable bombing and murder of the MOVE family by the U.S. government. Live Stream of the MOVE9 event.

Speakers:

Johanna Fernandez, Campaign to Bring Mumia Home  
Civil Rights Attorney Lynne Stewart
Amina Baraka, Poet/NJ Activist/Movement Leader
James McIntosh, CEMOTAP
Imam Al-Hajj Talib, Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, Inc.
Harabic Tubman, Existence is Resistance
Calib Maupin, Press TV
Pam Africa, MOVE as Master of Ceremonies

Sponsored by: The MOVE Organization; Resistance in Brooklyn; NYC Leonard Peltier Support Committee; Pro Libertad Freedom Campaign; NYC Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal; Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network; Universal Zulu Nation; and many more.

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Law and Disorder February 15, 2016


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UN Panel: Julian Assange Has Been “Arbitrarily Detained”

Validating what WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s legal team has been long asserting, the United Nations working group on arbitrary detention recently found that Assange has indeed been subject to arbitrary detention. The working group called on Britain and Sweden to end his deprivation of liberty.

As listeners will recall, Assange was arrested in 2010, and has been has been staying in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, when he sought asylum. Assange is wanted for questioning over an allegation of rape in 2010, which he denies.

Great Britain and Sweden rejected the UN panel’s findings. Prime Minister David Cameron has said that Assange should leave the embassy and submit himself to a Swedish arrest warrant over allegations of rape to bring an end to what he called “this whole sorry saga.” Cameron dismissed as “ridiculous” the findings of a UN panel and said that Assange had in fact detained himself.

Guest – Carey Shenkman  is a First Amendment and human rights attorney working for Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). Formerly at CCR, Carey worked on litigation on behalf of the press in the court-martial of whistle-blower Chelsea Manning. Carey holds two degrees in mathematics, and is an alumnus of NYU Law School, where he was an editor on the NYU Law Review. He can be reached on Twitter @CareyShenkman
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Remembering People’s Lawyer Myron Beldock

Myron Beldock, founding partner of the law firm Beldock Levine and Hoffman, peoples lawyer and longtime National Lawyers Guild member, passed away peacefully on February 1. He was 86 years old. Jim Dwyer of the New York Times wrote that Myron “had an important hand in cases that helped define the landscape of 20th-century law, and in others that merely righted the grievous wrongs done to unknown people.” Members of the National Lawyers Guild knew Myron not only as a brilliant attorney who took on the seemingly intractible cases of the wrongfully convicted, but also as a mentor, advisor and inspiration to a multitude of other people’s lawyerss. His death is a monumental loss to the criminal defense and civil rights bars. In the 1960s, Myron was one of the attorneys for George Whitmore, who dropped out of school in the eighth grade and was picked up by police in Brooklyn in connection with several rapes and three murders. Police interrogated him until he falsely confessed, even though he was in South Jersey at the time of some of the crimes watching Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The confession was 61 typed pages in length. The US Supreme Court, in the 1966 Miranda decision, called the Whitmore confession the “most recent conspicuous example of police coercion.” And as a result of this coerced confession, New York State abandoned the death penalty in 1965.

More recently, in 2013, Myron appeared in court on behalf of Everton Wagstaffe, who along with Reginald Connor, was convicting soley on the word of a crack-addicted police informant, of kidnapping a teenage girl found dead in 1992 in East New York. Mr. Wagstaffe spent two decades compiling records to show that the informant’s and detectives account were impossible. He wrote to Myron from prison, seeking his help. Myron worked with attorneys from the Innocence Project, the firm Davis Polk & Wardwell and the Legal Aid Society. In September 2014, the of the convictions of Mr. Wagstaffe and Mr. Connor were vacated. Myron was well known for securing the freedom of former boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter after he had served 19 years in prison for three murders in New Jersey. He also represented Yusef Salaam, one of five young black and Latino men who falsely confessed on videotape to the 1989 beating and rape of a woman who became known as the Central Park jogger. After serving terms of 7½ years to 13½ years, the five were exonerated in 2002, when an imprisoned man confessed to the crime and prosecutors confirmed his account with DNA evidence. We at Law and Disorder interviewed Myron in 2014, and remember him fondly as we take a listen to parts of that conversation:

In April of this year, celebrated boxer and prisoner-rights activist Rubin “Hurricane” Carter died at the age of 76. He had become an international symbol of racial injustice after his wrongful murder conviction forced him to spend 19 years in prison. Carter was arrested for a triple murder in his hometown of Patterson, New Jersey. He said he was innocent, was convicted by an all white jury, and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences. In 1976, the New Jersey State Supreme Court overturned his conviction on grounds the authorities withheld material evidence from the defense. But Carter was convicted again in a second trial in 1976. In 1985, that conviction was overturned by a U.S. district court judge, who concluded the state made an unconstitutional appeal to racial prejudice. In 1988, the Passaic, New Jersey, Prosecutor’s Office dropped all charges against Carter.

Attorney Myron Beldock:

  • He was a defendant in a criminal case in New Jersey involved the triple shooting and three murders of 3 people in the Lafayette bar in Patterson, New Jersey.
  • He and his co-defendant John Artis were represented at the first trial and they lost, (convicted) and Rubin started his campaign to get out of jail and wrote his book the 16th Round.
  • He was charismatic and powerful, a great thinker, very very intellectually strong person as well as being spiritually strong.
  • Almost a typical case, high profile case, where you get people who are vulnerable and easily manipulated because of their need for their own benefits to falsely testify.
  • We set aside the convictions when we learned about the benefits that were given to the witnesses.
  • We went again to trial in 1975. At that time the atmosphere had changed. There was a new prosecutor, they came up with a theory that it was actually a racial revenge killing.
  • Earlier that night, a white former bar owner had shot and killed the black purchaser of the bar from him.
  • That was always known and there was no motives attributed to the killings in the first trial but the second trial really based on speculation and bias, they argued persuasively to the jury that this was a racial revenge killing.
  • Mr. Bellow who was the supposed eye witness who testified, there were two of them in the first trial, was being questioned by me on the stand as to why he recanted his recantation. The prosecutor persuaded him to again tell the story he told at the first trial, identifying Rubin and John and I was trying to establish that they had falsely manipulated him when I was pulled into the chambers along with my co-counsel Louis Steele who represented John Artis and told that if I question him further, the jury would learn that he passed the lie detector test, supporting what he said at the first trial. Supporting his identification (of Rubin Carter)
  • We did have that test. It seemed like that was the result because that’s the way it was written. In fact that was a fraud.
  • The polygraph results were completely opposite of what they were purported to be.
  • The prosecutors in that case, two of them became judges, rewarded for what they did.
  • Rubin was not a popular person, he had been an outspoken civil rights person.  It was a cesspool of rumors without any evidentiary basis.
  • The entire community there almost in Passaic New Jersey treated us like we were the devil.
  • It was the coldest community reception I ever encountered in any place.
  • Rubin would call every year (from Canada) on the anniversary of his release.  He got a group of Canadian do-gooders and free thinkers to join him in fighting to set aside convictions for people who were wrongly convicted in Canada.
  • He would vet the briefs that we sent. He was a very unusual client.
  • Rubin refused to act as a prisoner because he wasn’t anyone who was guilty he said.
  • So, he didn’t eat prison food, he didn’t take prisoner assignments, he didn’t wear prison clothes and somehow or other he was able to pull that off.
  • People think of it as being another time, I’ve been practicing law long enough and I don’t think anything changes.
  • The same kind of bias runs deep throughout the community its just masked somewhat differently.
  • You make your luck in these cases, you have to forge ahead.
  • His insistence on being an innocent person and will not compromise with the system is the kind of inspiration that pushes us on as lawyers.

Guest – Attorney Myron Beldock, graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in 1946, Hamilton College in 1950 and Harvard Law School in 1958. He served in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1954 and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York from 1958 to 1960. After several years as an associate with a small New York City firm and as a single practitioner, he brought together two friends and former Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Elliot Hoffman and Larry Levine, to form Beldock Levine & Hoffman in 1964. He is best described, by his own definition, as an old-time general practitioner. He concentrates on trial and appellate litigation, in state and federal courts, in defense of criminal charges and in pursuing plaintiffs’ civil rights actions based on police and prosecutorial misconduct and employer and governmental discrimination. He regularly consults and defends charges of professional discipline. He represents plaintiffs and defendants in a wide variety of personal and business related matters, working with others in the firm’s various practice areas.

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Sex Workers Project And Human Trafficking

Sienna Baskin is the Managing Director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York City, where she has worked since 2007.  At the Sex Workers Project she both directs a team that provides legal services to sex workers and is responsible for the Project’s policy and law reform work.  Sienna also just returned from a Fullbright Fellowship in New Zealand – a country that completely decriminalized sex work/prostitution in 2003 and she went to learn what effects – positive and negative – decriminalization has had, both for people engaged in sex work and for the larger society.

Guest – Sienna Baskin -Managing Director of the Sex Workers Project. Ms. Baskin directs the legal services and policy advocacy of SWP. Ms. Baskin trains and supervises legal staff in providing direct legal representation, public education and outreach. She promotes reform of laws and policies affecting sex workers and survivors of trafficking, and oversees the production of SWP’s human rights documentation reports. Ms. Baskin also provides direct legal education, advice and representation to sex workers and survivors of trafficking on housing, criminal, employment, and immigration matters. Ms. Baskin joined SWP as an Equal Justice Works fellow in 2007. Sienna is a graduate of Hampshire College and the City University of New York School of Law.

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Law and Disorder February 8, 2016


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Public Water Crisis Flint Michigan: Attorney Bill Goodman

We take another look at the public water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The legal cases being brought are being litigated at the intersection of environmental racism and capitalist austerity. Flint, a predominantly impoverished African-American city north of Detroit, had an emergency manager imposed on it by Tea Party Governor Rick Snyder. The emergency manager, acting outside of democratic controls, switched the clean water supplied to the city from the Detroit water system to the polluted Flint River claiming this would save money. Chemicals added to the filthy Flint River water caused lead from the supply pipes to leech into the drinking water.  This caused lead poisoning to thousands of children in Flint. Lead poisoning is known to cause irreversible brain damage. FlintWaterClassAction.com

Guest – Bill Goodman is the attorney for a number of victims of water poisoning in Flint, Michigan. He’s a leading civil rights attorney in Michigan and the former Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

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Remembering Attorney Michael Kennedy

We speak today with Bernadine Dohrn about the late Attorney Michael Kennedy. Kennedy died two weeks ago in New York City from cancer at the age of 78.  He was one of the great civil rights in criminal law defense attorneys of his generation. Kennedy graduated from law school in California and began his career representing Cesar Chavez and the migrant farm workers. He also represented Black Panther leader Huey Newton and SDS leaders Rennie Davis and Bernadine Dohrn and Native American protesters at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. He later moved to New York and became staff counsel for the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee where he represented opponents of the war in Vietnam and supporters of the Irish freedom struggle.

Guest – Bernadine Dohrn, former leader of SDS and longtime member of the National Lawyers Guild where she served a student organizer in the late 60s.  Until recently Bernadine Dorh taught law at Northwestern University Law School supporting justice for juveniles.

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