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Law and Disorder August 15, 2016


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Denied Parole 10 Times, John Mackenzie Found Dead In Cell After 41 Years In Prison

On Thursday morning August 4th 70-year-old John Mackenzie was found dead in his prison cell at the Fishkill Correctional Facility in New York State. Nine days earlier in a two to one decision the parole board denied parole for McKenzie for the 10th time in the past 16 years since he became eligible. More information at RAPP Campaign.

In 1975, when he was 29 years old, Mackenzie was sentenced to 25 years to life for the shooting of a police officer during a burglary. He spent 41 years in prison. Each time Mackenzie appeared before the parole board it held that his crime showed “a serious disrespect for the law. ” It further stated that granting him parole would “undermine respect for the law.” In 2011 pursuant to a New York state executive law the parole board was required to consider not just the nature of the crime, but also factors such as participation in rehabilitation programs, release plans and the risk of recidivism.

His attorney Kathy Manley sued and got a favorable decision from state Supreme Court judge Maria Rosa vacating the 2014 denial of parole and ordering a new parole hearing. The new hearing ruled, again, that he should be denied based on the nature of the crime.

On May 16, 2016 Judge Rosa again ordered a new hearing. This time she said that the parole board members who had ruled against Mackenzie the two other times should not be allowed to sit on the parole board. Judge Rosa also said that a new hearing had to be held immediately and that the parole board would be fined $500 a day until it had a new hearing. “I was optimistic but he couldn’t stand it anymore” said attorney Manley when she learned of his death. Manley practices criminal defense law in Albany New York.

Guest – Attorney Kathy Manley graduated from the State University at Albany in 1988, and spent several years teaching at the Albany Free School. In 1996 she entered Albany Law School, and completed one year there. Kathy then took the unusual step of pursuing a Clerkship with Kindlon Shanks & Associates rather than staying in law school. She completed the three year Clerkship in 2000, successfully passed the bar exam and was admitted as an attorney in 2001.

Kathy’s main interests are criminal defense and constitutional rights. She concentrates on appeals and motions, and has written many winning briefs before the NYS Appellate Division, Third Department and other courts. She has also written many suppression motions successfully challenging illegal searches and seizures. Kathy was involved with a local same sex marriage case, the Aref case (which, among other issues, challenged the NSA warrantless wiretapping program), and is currently involved with cases challenging sex offender residence restrictions and other sex offender issues.

Long an advocate for peace and social justice, Kathy is involved in a number of groups, including the Muslim Solidarity Committee, Project SALAM and the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF). She is also Vice President of the Capital Region chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

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Lawsuit Strategy Over Flint Water Crisis Alleges Federal Racketeering

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, high-ranking former members of his staff and others are the target of a federal racketeering lawsuit over the city of Flint’s water crisis. The lawsuit, which also targets the city, alleges that the officials tried to balance the City’s budget through a pattern of racketeering activity. It claims they committed mail fraud by continuing to mail water bills to Flint residents, which they allege fraudulently misrepresents that the city is providing safe, clean water to its residents.

A group of 15 citizens filed the lawsuit seeking financial compensation for property damage, loss of business and financial losses and damages for future medical care attributed to the water crisis.

It alleges that officials misrepresented the suitability of the Flint River water as the city’s drinking water source for approximately two years and billed Flint residents at rates that were the highest in the nation for unusable water, yielding $3.3 million surplus and resulting in the city’s budget deficit being reversed.

The lawsuit alleges the defendants committed wire fraud by allowing residents to pay their water bills online or with credit cards despite knowing the water was toxic. RICO lawsuits require attorneys to prove that wrongdoing was part of an ongoing enterprise. If successful, it allows treble damages.

Guest – Attorney Bill Goodman. Bill is the former Legal Director at the Constitutional Rights and a past president of the National Lawyers Guild. He’s also the attorney for a number of victims of water poisoning in Flint, Michigan.

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Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America’s War on Terror

Retired Florida U. S. Senator Bob Graham was the head of the US Senate intelligence committee and also  the chairman of the 9/11 commission of inquiry. He is the leading person trying to get President Obama to release to the public the suppressed 28 pages of the 911 report which have been hidden. Senator Graham contends that the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom who were Saudi Arabians,  could not have pulled off the operation alone and that in fact they were part of a support network involving the Saudi Arabian monarchy and government which helped plan, pay for and execute the complicated 911 plot which, says Senator Graham, would have otherwise been impossible to accomplish. Senator Graham has written the book Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America’s War on Terror. It provides a candid insight to the workings of the US in Saudi relations and their implications on US foreign-policy making as it pertains to the middle east and bags tension, contemporary geopolitics.

Guest – Senator Bob Graham, is the former two–term governor of Florida and served for 18 years  in the United States Senate. This is combined with 12 years in the Florida  legislature for a total of 38 years of public service. As Governor and Senator,  Bob Graham was a centrist, committed to bringing his colleagues together behind  programs that served the broadest public interest. He was recognized by the  people of Florida when he received an 83% approval ranking as he concluded  eight years as Governor. Bob Graham retired from public service in January  2005, following his Presidential campaign in 2004.

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Law and Disorder July 11, 2016


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Non-indictment of Hillary Clinton

FBI Director James Comey announced at a press conference last week that the FBI had concluded its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of her personal email account for State Department business and that he would recommend no criminal charges against her. Comey said that Clinton’s use of a private email address and server while she was  Secretary of State was “extremely careless.” The investigation found that she had sent eight top secret documents through a hackable email account and that it was possible hostile foreign governments could’ve gained access. Since the announcment the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairperson Jason Chaffetz has called for an investigation to whether Clinton lied to Congress. In order to warrant a criminal indictment there had to be evidence that Clinton intentionally transmitted or willfully mishandled classified information.

Guest – Attorney Carey Shenkman, who primarily represent journalists, publishers, and filmmakers at risk of censorship or political persecution. He focuses on First Amendment, international law (particularly freedom of expression and right to protest), journalist and source protection, extradition. Carey had worked for Michael Ratner and now represents Julian Assange.

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Chelsea Manning Alleged Suicide Attempt Update

Lawyers acting for imprisoned Chelsea Manning, the Army soldier who as a truth teller passed evidence of US war crimes on to Wikileaks have expressed fury at the military authorities handling of her medical status amid a swirl of media speculation that she had attempted suicide. Manning who is serving a 35 year sentence for leaking secret diplomatic cables and other official documents has been cut off from contact with her lawyers and all other outside connections for more than 36 hours causing alarm among those closest to her. The sudden severing of contact follows a rash of media reports based on unconfirmed rumors about her medical condition. The Army is refusing to give details about what has happened. Persistent inquiries by the Guardian has produced only a statement from the Dept of Defense that stated the soldier was taken to the hospital in the early hours of Tuesday last week and now he’s been returned to Levenworth Prison.

Guest – Alexa O’Brien researches and writes about national security and capital crimes. Her work has been published in VICE News, The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, Guardian UK, Salon, The Daily Beast, and featured on the BBC, PBS Frontline, On The Media, Democracy Now!, and Public Radio International. In 2013, she was shortlisted for the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in the UK and listed in The Verge 50. ChelseaManning.org

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Federal Circuit Court: Criminal Defendants No Reasonable Expectation of Privacy On Personal Home Computers

Most of us assume that what we write on our own computers, in our own homes, is completely private. But a recent federal court decision held that criminal defendants have no reasonable expectation of privacy on their personal, home computers. And the government doesn’t need a warrant to hack into an individual’s computer.

In 2014, the FBI hacked–taking over and operating– a child pornography website called Playpen, for two weeks after a Virginia court issued a warrant to do so. Agents used software that bypassed Playpen users’ anonymity, enabling them to be tracked digitally. More than 135 people faced charges.

As courts are grappling to apply traditional rules of criminal procedure and constitutional law in these cases, several bad decisions are being made. At the forefront of educating the public about our digital rights is the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who filed an amicus brief in this case.

Guest – Sophia Cope, Staff Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Previously, she worked at the Newspaper Association of America on freedom of the press and digital media issues, with a focus on protecting journalists’  confidential sources.

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Law and Disorder July 4, 2016


Updates:

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Economic and Political Fallout From British Exit

A domino effect has begun as banks and investment firms lose billions in the wake of Great Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. The value of the British pound has dropped more than 9 percent and global financial markets are in free fall. In a recent Truthdig article, 2008 All Over Again, by Chris Hedges, economist Michael Hudson blames the Brexit vote on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He says this a response to the US war policy in the Middle East and Ukraine that destroyed Libya, and turned over weapons to al-Qaida. Those weapons ended up in their war in Syria. The mass exodus of refugees into Europe fueled nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiment. Meanwhile, countries such as France, Austria and the Netherlands are positioning to do the same as the UK. Many suspect the banks will again turn to governments for bail outs as they did in 2008. The question is: how will the American public respond to the effects of ever increasing inequality, destruction of the environment and trade deals that benefit the one percent?

Guest – Chris Hedges, author and journalist, who publishes weekly on Truthdig. He’s written 11 books, including New York Times best seller “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” (2012), which he co-authored with the cartoonist Joe Sacco. Other books include “Death of the Liberal Class” (2010), “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009), “I Don’t Believe in Atheists” (2008) and the best selling “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” (2008). He’s a former war correspondent, specializing in American and Middle Eastern politics and societies.

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Lawyers You’ll Like – Attorney Margaret Kunstler

For our Lawyers You’ll Like series we’re joined today by civil rights attorney Margaret Kunstler. Throughout her career she has provided support and protected the rights of activists. She’s been a consultant to the Occupy Wall Street and Anonymous protesters. Her book Hell No: Your Right To Dissent in 21st Century America was co-authored with Michael Ratner and it remains a leading handbook for activists. Attorney Margaret Kunstler has advised Wikileaks, Bradley Manning supporters in connection with grand jury subpoenas.

Together with her late husband William Kunstler, the subject of the documentary Disturbing the Universe, Margaret worked on high profile cases including the Virgin Island Five, Attica and Wounded Knee. She is the founder of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice that works to combat racism in the criminal justice system. Margaret was a founding member of the National Lawyers Guild NYC Mass Defense Committee that provides legals observers at demonstrations and represents those arrrested. At the Center for Constitutional Rights, she worked as an attorney and educational director and authored the well known pamphlet “If An Agent Knocks.”
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Law and Disorder June 20, 2016


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¡Michael Ratner Presente!

We hear excerpts from Michael Ratner’s public memorial held in the Great Hall at Cooper Union in Manhattan, New York.  It would have been Michael’s 73rd birthday on June 13, 2016.

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¡Michael Ratner Presente! was co-sponsored by Cooper Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Democracy Now!, National Lawyers Guild, The Nation Institute, Nation Magazine, Haymarket Books, and Voices of a People’s History of the United States.

Michael Ratner’s Politics – By Michael Smith

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Law and Disorder June 13, 2016


Update:

  • Norman Seabrook, NYC Corrections Officer’s Union Head Arrested On Federal Corruption Charges.

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Native American Activist Leonard Peltier Clemency

As most listeners know, Leonard Peltier is a Native American activist convicted of killing two FBI special agents –Jack Coler and Ronald Williams—during a shootout on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in 1975. He has spent over four decades in prison, despite the fact that prosecutors and federal agents manufactured evidence against him, suppressed evidence that would establish his innocence, presented false testimony obtained through harsh interrogation, defied court orders and perjured themselves to the jury. Numerous constitutional violations plagued Pelteri’s case, and many dignitaries, governments and international human rights organizations continue to call for his release. The Bush administration denied clemency to Peltier, and efforts are under way to urge President Obama to grant executive clemency before he leaves office.

Guest – Cynthia K. Dunne, is a former federal prosecutor who now directs a nonprofit that works with youth on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Cindy calls on United States President Barack Obama to grant clemency to AIM activist Leonard Peltier.

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Exoneree Diaries: The Fight for Innocence, Independence, and Identity

More and more it seems we hear of stories of wrongfully convicted persons being released after years, even decades, behind bars in the United States. Helping to secure their freedom are Innocence Projects across the nation, dedicated lawyers and years of painstaking work to uncover prosecutorial misconduct, false eyewitness identifications, or forensic mishaps. What we don’t hear, however, is how exonerated individuals piece their lives together after lengthy periods of incarceration. Award-winning journalist Alison Flowers has humanized four such persons in her book “Exoneree Diaries: The Fight for Innocence, Independence, and Identity.” Alison is a Social Justice News Nexus fellow and works at the invisible Institute in Chicago.

Guest – Alison Flowers is an award-winning investigative journalist who focuses on social justice and criminal justice. She is the author of “Exoneree Diaries: The Fight for Innocence, Independence and Identity” (Haymarket Books, 2016), and she contributed to the anthology “Who Do You Serve? Who Do You Protect?: Police Violence and Resistance in the United States.” In 2013, she produced a multimedia series about exonerees for Chicago Public Media and NPR affiliate WBEZ. The yearlong project was a finalist for a national Online Journalism Award.

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Law and Disorder June 6, 2016


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Lawyers You’ll Like : Attorney Jim Lafferty

Periodically we feature a segment on Law and Disorder called Lawyers You’ll Like. Our guest today is attorney Jim Lafferty.  Jim has been a lawyer and movement activist in Detroit, New York City, and Los Angeles since the 1960s when he served as executive director of the National Lawyers Guild and carried out civil rights work in the deep South. He was one of the national leaders of the anti-war movement during the Vietnam War.  He also headed up the very successful National Lawyers Guild chapter in Los Angeles for 25 years.

Guest – Jim Lafferty, Executive director of the National Lawyers Guild in Los Angeles and host of The Lawyers Guild Show on Pacifica’s KPFK 90. 7 FM.

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American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes

World War II started on September 1, 1939 when fascist Germany attacked its neighbor Czechoslovakia.  By the end of the war six years later some 80 million people had died and the continent lay devastated. The first trials of 22 Nazi leaders, general’s and bankers wer organized by the victorious allies, America, Britain, Russia, France and took place in Nuremberg Germany.  19 were found guilty and executed.  Robert H Jackson, Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court and Chief Prosecutor for United States and Nuremberg wrote then that “we must not forget that the record on which we judge the defendants today is a record in which we will be judged tomorrow.” A recent article –  Crimes of the War on Terror Should George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Others Be Jailed? 

Intentional war is the greatest of all crimes because it contains with it all the rest of horrible crimes. The United States of America’s intentional war against Iraq, which was motivated to the public with lies about weapons of mass destruction, and which has since spread to six other countries in the Middle East, has resulted in over 1 million deaths, driven millions more from their homes, and destroyed ancient peoples and their cultures.

The United States helped establish the international principles that guided the prosecution of war crimes when Nazi officials were held accountable for their crimes against humanity. But the American government and its legal system have consistently refused to apply the same principles to our own officials. In her book American Nuremberg, Rebecca Gordon indicts the officials who, in a just society, whould be put on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.  She acknowledges that the U.S. government is unlikely to do this and proposes an alternative based on the Russell Tribunals held in 1967 exposing American criminality in the war against Vietnam.

Guest – Rebecca Gordon received her B.A. from Reed College and her M.Div. and Ph.D. in Ethics and Social Theory from Graduate Theological Union. She teaches in the Philosophy department at the University of San Francisco and for the university’s Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good. Previous publications include Letters From Nicaragua and Cruel and Usual: How Welfare “Reform” Punishes Poor People . Prior to her academic career, Gordon spent a few decades working in a variety of national and international movements for peace and justice. These include the movements for women’s liberation and LGBT rights; movements in solidarity with the struggles of poor people in Central America; the anti-apartheid movement in the United States and South Africa; and movements opposing U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Law and Disorder May 30, 2016


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Remembering Michael Ratner

Hosts Heidi Boghosian and Michael Smith remember Michael Ratner as cohost, activist, radical attorney, author and close friend. In this show, hosts reflect on Michael’s work and listen back to several monologue updates. They include his work as co-counsel for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the Dahiya Doctrine, SNAP- Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, NSA survelliance in the Bahamas and Guantanamo Bay prisoner exchange.

Michael Ratner (1943-2016) was president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and author of Guantanamo: What the World Should Know. Michael worked for decades, as a crusader for human rights both at home and abroad litigating many cases against international human rights violators resulting in millions of dollars in judgments for abuse victims and expanding the possibilities of international law. He acted as a principal counsel in the successful suit to close the camp for HIV-positive Haitian refugees on Guantanamo Base, Cuba. Michael Ratner has litigated a dozen cases challenging a President’s authority to go to war, without congressional approval. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the Center has focused its efforts on the constitutionality of indefinite detention and the restrictions on civil liberties as defined by the unfolding terms of a permanent war. Among his many honors were: Trial Lawyer of the Year from the Trial lawyers for Public Justice, The Columbia Law School Public Interest Law Foundation Award, and the North Star Community Frederick Douglass Award.

 

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Law and Disorder May 23, 2016


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A Full Life: James Connolly, The Irish Rebel

Executed by a British firing squad on May 12, 1916 for his role in organizing the Easter Rising, James Connolly was one of the most prominent radical organizers and agitators of his day. Born in Scotland in 1868 to Irish immigrant parents Connolly spent most of adult life organizing for labor unions and Socialist organizations in Ireland, Scotland and the United States. Despite attending school for only a few years, Connolly became a leading Socialist writer and theoretician, founding and editing newspapers including The Socialist Scotland, The Harp in the United States, and the Worker’s Republic in Ireland. As a labor organizer, Connolly stressed the importance of direct action, broad working class unity and a commitment to ending labor’s exploitation. As a Socialist agitator, Connolly saw economic and political independence as inextricably intertwined. The pamphlet, A Full Life: James Connolly, The Irish Rebel is the first graphic treatment on Connolly’s life. Its been issued on the centenary of the Easter Rising.

Guest – Paul Buhle, formerly a senior lecturer at Brown University, produces radical comics. He founded the SDS Journal Radical America and the archive Oral History of the American Left and, with Mari Jo Buhle, is coeditor of the Encyclopedia of the American Left. He lives in Madison.
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Songs of Freedom: The James Connolly Songs of Freedom Band

Songs of Freedom is the name of the songbook initially edited by James Connolly and reedited by Mat Calahan and republished by PM Press. Connolly’s introduction is better known than the collection for which it was written contained in his oft quoted maxim “Until the movement is marked the joyous defiant singing of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the most distinctive marks of a popular revolutionary movement. It is the dogma of a few and not the faith of the multitude. Songs of Freedom is the celebration of the life and work of James Connolly, the Irish revolutionary Socialist martyred by the British government for his role in the Eastern Rising of 1916. Songs of Freedom the CD, makes contemporary music out of old revolutionary songs. The band turns the timeless lyrics of James Connolly into timeless manifestos of today.

Guest – Mat Calahan is a musician and author originally from San Francisco, where he founded Komotion International. He is the author of three books, Sex, Death & the Angry Young Man, Testimony, and The Trouble With Music. He currently resides in Bern, Switzerland. http://www.matcallahan.com

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Law and Disorder April 11, 2016


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From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation

Cornel West calls it the best analysis we have of the Black Lives Matter moment of the long struggle for freedom in America. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s new book, “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation,” explores how a new generation of Black radicals–in challenging abusive policing practices, over-imprisonment of Black persons, deeply ingrained stereotypes of African Americans as especially dangerous and devoid of humanity, along with other forms of racist state oppression–is carrying on the fight for Black liberation through renewed activist uprisings. Combining historical accounts with insightful analysis, she demonstrates the interconnection between institutional racism and class oppression, reminding us how inequality and racialized state violence are byproducts of capitalism.

Guest – Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is assistant professor in the department of African American Studies at Princeton University. She writes on Black politics, social movements and racial inequality in the United States.
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Black Movement-Law Project

Several attorneys and legal activists involved in Ferguson, Baltimore and Cleveland protests have formed the Black Movement-Law Project. The Project provides legal support to local communities across the nation as they take to the streets to protest police misconduct, and systemic racism.

Their approach to community activism is itself community based: they offer legal and technical assistance based on the premise that local mass movements frequently lack legal expertise. They help arrange rapid responses to support activists on the ground by providing legal observers, know your rights trainings, and jail support. Their national network of human and civil rights attorneys offer assistance to local communities in the form of legal representation and long-term impact litigation.

Guests -Black Movement-Law Project co-founder Abi Hassen. Abi Hassen is an attorney, consultant and cofounder of the Black Movement-Law Project. He was formerly the mass defense coordinator at the National Lawyers Guild. He has a J.D. from New York University School of Law, and an undergraduate degree in computer science from The Evergreen State College. With his extensive background in labor, political and community organizing, Abi has been active at the intersection of law, technology and organizing for social justice for over a decade.

Guest – Black Movement-Law Project co-founder Nathan (Nash) Sheard, is a legal activist and organizer with the BMLP.

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Law and Disorder March 28, 2016


By Evan Guest - Donald Trump in Muscatine, Iowa, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46705061 fff_655

Seeds Of Fascism In The United States

There has been much discussion in liberal and left circles about whether Donald Trump is a fascist and whether the country is in danger of becoming fascist. It is pointed out the Trump is a demagogue, lies, is for violence, is a racist against Muslims and Mexicans, and is misogynist with respect to women. He is for bringing back torture and and increasing American aggression in Syria.

Guest – Professor Paul LeBlanc, a professor of history at the La Roche College in Pittsburgh and has written and participated in the US labor, radical, and civil rights movement. Professor LeBlanc is the author of books on the European revolutionaries Lenin, Trotsky, and Rosa Luxembourg. With respect to America, he wrote “a short history of the US working class.” And co-authored with economist Michael Yates the highly acclaimed “freedom budget for all Americans: recapturing the promise of the civil rights movement in the struggle for economic justice today.”

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United States, Cuba Relations 2016

The Cuban revolution of 1959 was not just a political revolution. It was a social revolution. The 99% took over the resources of their own country and the 1% fled to Miami.  In response United States began a blockade of Cuba in 1960. A memo written by a senior State Department official laid out American policy. It advocated “a line of action that makes the greatest inroads into denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and the overthrow of the Castro government. ”

Last year United States reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba and last week Obama said in Havana that “I affirm that Cuba’s destiny will not be decided by the United States or any other nation.  We talk about the US relations with Cuba and President Obama’s recent visit with Walter Lippman.

Guest – Walter Lippmann, editor of the Cuba News Yahoo News Group.

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8th Annual Brookyn Folk Festival

Co-hosts Michael Smith and Heidi Boghosian are joined by Eli Smith to talk about the upcoming Brooklyn Folk Festival. Eli is a banjo player, writer, researcher and promoter of folk music. He’s a Smithsonian Folkways recording artist and produces two folk festivals annually, the Brooklyn Folk Festival in the Spring and Washington Square Park Folk Festival in the Fall.

 

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