St. Louis–The State of Missouri is scheduled to execute Andre Cole on April 14 and Kimber Edwards on May 12 despite evidence that all black potential jurors were removed from each those capital juries by St Louis County prosecutors simply because they were black. The NAACP, ACLU, and dozens of other organizations and congregations in St Louis and around the state have joined in a call for Governor Nixon to convene a Board of Inquiry to halt the executions and investigate this issue. In a letter delivered to Governor Nixon, numerous state legislators and organizations representing thousands of Missouri residents from across the state joined in the request to investigate the systemic exclusion of African-American jurors in death penalty cases from St. Louis County, particularly by all-white decision-makers.
MAUSTON, WI – Bonnie Block, a Madison, WI grandmother and long-time peace activist, was found guilty of trespassing in a jury trial in the Juneau County Courthouse on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. The penalty for the charge was a $232 fine or 5 days in the Juneau County Jail. In a moving sentencing statement, Block stated, “I can’t in good conscience pay the fine. It would be giving consent to the outcome of a legal process I believe was unfair and which sets dangerous precedents for those of us engaged in nonviolent civil resistance and seeking justice for victims of US drone warfare.” (See below for complete statement.) After sentencing Block to 5 days in jail, Judge Paul Curran told Block that he would allow her to have lunch with her husband and son before reporting to the Juneau County “Justice” Center to begin her sentence.
Judge Jeffrey Weill seems to believe public defenders should be more deferential to him and less passionate in the representation of their clients. Apparently disapproving of the zealous advocacy of one public defender, Judge Weill removed her from all of her cases and, according to Public Defender Michelle Harris, to identify any specific behavior that violated the lawyer’s professional obligations to her clients, or the court. In doing so he has disrespected the right to counsel for the poor. When the Hinds County public defender office refused to abandon those they are charged with serving, and collectively resisted Judge’s Weill’s attempts to further interfere with their representation of clients, he held an attorney and the head of the office in contempt.
The judge who allegedly turned Ferguson’s municipal court into a city cash cow resigned Monday, and the Missouri Supreme Court ordered a new jurist to take over the city caseload. The Supreme Court of Missouri said in a statement that it was assigning Judge Roy L. Richter to take over Ferguson Municipal Judge Ronald Brockmeyer’s court “to help restore public trust and confidence.” Reform advocates who said Ferguson is one of many small municipalities in St. Louis County that routinely violate the rights of residents said the judicial moves are a good start. “I hope that it marks the beginning of a long process,” said Brendan Roediger, a civil rights lawyer and St. Louis University Law Scool professor who is involved in a lawsuit against Ferguson and a neighboring municipality. Roediger said Brockmeyer “was never the worst municipal court judge” in the St. Louis region, where similar conflicts exist in many courtrooms. A group of residents waiting outside a closed meeting of the Ferguson City Council on Monday night cheered the news. “That’s big,” said Melissa Sanders, 32, of Ferguson. “I’m elated — for now.” Sanders, of the activist group Lost Voices, said she was concerned that “they may be just pacifying us.”
Far too often innocent men are put to death in our country. Rodney Reed is an innocent man on death row and at the time of this taping he was scheduled to be executed March 5th. Luckily the courts have put a stay on his execution but the battle to save him is not over. And he is not alone either – the Innocence Project estimates that over 4% of every US executions are carried out on innocent people. It’s time to end this barbaric practice. In this clip from Redacted Tonight comedian Lee Camp breaks it all down. — http://www.YouTube.com/RedactedTonight http://LeeCamp.net
CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou has been released from the federal correctional institution in Loretto, Pennsylvania. He checked into a halfway house on February 3 and then went home to be with his family and serve the remaining 86 days of his sentence on house arrest. And, to mark his departure from the facility, he penned a final letter acknowledging everything he will not miss about being incarcerated. Kiriakou was the first member of the CIA to publicly acknowledge that torture was official US policy under President George W. Bush’s administration. In October 2012, he pled guilty to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) when he confirmed the name of an officer involved in the CIA’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program to a reporter. He was sentenced in January 2013 and reported to prison on February 28, 2013.
At SCI Dallas (Pennsylvania), after a series of abuses at the hands of corrections officials, some prisoners housed in the solitary confinement unit decided they had enough and decided to stage a protest in response to the inhumane conditions and mistreatment of prisoners by covering their windows. Each prisoner involved in the protest is now collectively referred to as the Dallas 6. Pack the court at their next hearing on February 17. This trial pertains to an April 29, 2010 peaceful protest against illegal and inhumane and tortuous conditions created by the Department of Corrections’ prison guards in the “hole” at the State Correctional Institution at Dallas PA (SCI Dallas), including food starvation, mail destruction, beatings, medical neglect, use of a “torture chair” and deaths of various prisoners. After guards tortured fellow prisoner Isaac Sanchez in a “torture chair” overnight and threatened several Dallas 6 members with death, prisoners Andre Jacobs, Carrington Keys, Duane Peter, Derrick Stanley, and others decided that they didn’t want to suffer anymore. Covering their cell door windows with bedding, the prisoners demanded that the abuse stop, and requested access to their counselors, state police, the District Attorney and the Public Defenders’ Office.
Sister Megan Rice and two other activists broke into the facility outside Knoxville, Tenn., in 2012 to bring attention to the dangers of unimpeded nuclear proliferation. They also exposed gaps in national security by showing how easy it was to get in. Now, Sister Megan lives in horrifying conditions in a single room with 111 other women in the Metropolitan Detention Center. Sister Megan’s “cell” is a gymnasium-size dorm unit with 60 bunkbeds for the 111 women, placed a few feet apart. Along one wall are six half-enclosed toilet stalls, six sinks and six shower stalls, and in the middle of the room, 10 dining/work/play tables that can seat 60 women. There is no outdoor courtyard and no mess hall, and food is passed on trays to the women individually through a small window.
As many of us are out in the streets taking back the radical legacy of King, here at Prison Radio we are at full speed on the path toward freedom and justice. Right now, seven of us are working in the San Francisco office. Over 630 people joined the campaign to Defeat the “Silencing of Our Prisoners Law SB508″ and gave to our successful IndieGogo campaign. On February 26th, Prison Radio attorneys Bret Grote from the Abolitionist Law Center & Nikki Grant and Ashley Henderson from the Amistad Law Project will be advocating that Judge Conner issue a preliminary injunction prohibiting Pennsylvania’s Attorney General and Philadelphia’s District Attorney from using the Silencing Act to censor Plaintiffs’ speech. We want to put an end to this illegal statute before it can be used to intimidate, silence, and punish those who raise their voices against this system.
Bonny Mahoney of Syracuse, New York was convicted by Judge David S. Gideon in DeWitt Town Court on a single count of trespass stemming from her arrest during a nonviolent protest at Hancock Air National Guard Base on April 28, 2013. When Drone Resister Bonny Mahoney arrived in court on January 15 for her jury trial on charges of obstructing governmental administration (OGA) and 2 counts of disorderly conduct (DisCon), she was arraigned on a new charge (trespass) stemming from the same event where she was arrested 17 months earlier with 30 other protesters. Her reasonable request for some time to modify her preparations was refused. Judge Gideon granted a pretrial motion by the attorneys to dismiss the OGA charge on the grounds that it didn’t specify who was obstructed, or how, and the jury was also dismissed. In the end, the only charge Ms. Mahoney was convicted of was the new trespass charge. Attorney’s Jonathon Wallace and Daire Irwin, who attended the trial to support Ms. Mahoney made arrangements to argue another motion before her sentencing hearing on February 12.
Berrien County Judge Sterling Schrock sentenced the leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO), Rev. Edward Pinkney, to 30-120 months in prison based on an all-white jury’s verdict of guilty on five felony counts of forgery. The charges stemmed from a successful recall petition drive against Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower, who is perceived as a tool of the Whirlpool Corp. and the political power structure in the area. Pinkney has been a longtime activist in Berrien County, where Benton Harbor is located, and his work in the state of Michigan has drawn national attention. This is the second time in seven years that the BANCO leader has been convicted on charges related to efforts to hold local officials accountable to the people. Outside the courtroom, attorney Parish told supporters of Pinkney that he appreciated the role they had played during the difficult trial. “A criminal appeal lawyer, one of the best in the state, will take over the case for the next phase.”
DAYVON LOVE, DIRECTOR, RESEARCH AND PUBLIC POLICY LEADERS OF A BEAUTIFUL STRUGGLE: So next Thursday, January 15, there’s going to be a mass demonstration. It’s going to be at ten o’clock in Annapolis. There are going to be buses that leave from Baltimore at 8 a.m., one on the east side, one on the west side, so one at Mondawmin, one from Alameda Shopping Center. The point of the demonstration is to provide force behind legislative changes around the issues of police brutality and other issues that affect people most directly affected by racism and white supremacy, poverty, etc. And so that’s really the plan, where our hope is is that this can send a message to legislators who will likely be influenced by law enforcement’s powerful lobby.
Under Missouri law, MO Rev Stat § 56.110, the presiding judge of the Circuit Court is empowered to “appoint some other attorney to prosecute” if the prosecuting attorney ‘be interested,’ (i.e. has a conflict of interest). The knowing false testimony of witnesses by itself should result in a special prosecutor and a new grand jury, but that was one of many abuses of the grand jury investigating the death of Michael Brown. Sherrilyn Ifill and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund has written to Judge McShane raising issues that undermine the credibility of this grand jury. In her letter (below) she urges the judge to convene a new grand jury and appoint a special prosecutor. In the 9 page letter she describes a series of abuses by McCulloch and the assistant prosecutors that “call into question both the integrity of the process and the lawfulness of the prosecutors’ conduct.” All of this, Isil concludes, demonstrates a failed grand jury and raises ethical questions about the behaviors of the prosecutors. She reminds Judge McShane that she has the authority to appoint a special prosecutor and convene a new grand jury. She asks the court to take action to “vindicate the public’s faith in the criminal justice system.”
Uintah County prosecutors have filed felony and misdemeanor charges against 21 people from 10 states who were arrested during a summer protest at the site of a controversial tar sands mine. he charges stem from a July 21 protest at the U.S. Oil Sands mine site, which sits on land leased to the Canadian energy firm by the state School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. During the protest, 12 environmental activists climbed an 8-foot-tall, chain-link fence topped with barbed wire and entered the mine site, according to court records. Five of the activists chained themselves to heavy equipment inside the fenced area, deputies said. About 30 protesters outside the fenced area were told to leave the mine site or face arrest, according to court records. Only one of the 30 failed to follow that order and was arrested. In July, Utah Tar Sands Resistance spokeswoman Jessica Lee said deputies treated the protesters so roughly during the arrests that it amounted to police brutality. “This is a clear example of the Uintah County sheriff escalating things,” Lee said at the time, noting that protesters were “grabbed in an aggressive manner” and some were “thrown to the ground.”