April 14 City Council Hearing on Torture Reparations Ordinance

A City Council Hearing on the Chicago Police Torture Reparations Ordinance has been scheduled!

Reparations Ordinance

Alderman Ed Burke, Chair of the Finance Committee, has announced that the committee will hold a hearing on the Reparations Ordinance on Tuesday, April 14 at 10 am. In recent months, People’s Law Office has joined with Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, Amnesty International, BYP100, Chicago Light Brigade, Project NIA, and We Charge Genocide to organize marches, demonstrations, rallies, sing-ins, exhibition-ins, teach-ins and more to demand a hearing and passage of the ordinance; and our efforts are paying off.

As torture survivor and People’s Law Office client Darrell Cannon told the Sun-Times: “People power has a way of getting the attention of the hardest of hearts of politicians.”

Oral Argument in AETA Challenge

On Thursday, February 19, 2015, attorneys for animal rights activists will argue for a motion to dismiss the indictment charging them with violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA).  The motion asserts that the AETA is unconstitutional.

Michael Deutsch of People’s Law Office represents Kevin Johnson, one of the two activists. Kevin is also represented by National Lawyers Guild member Lillian McCartin and Rachel Meerpool of Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR).  Tyler Lang is represented by Geoffry Meyer of the Federal Defender Program.

The motion will be argued by Rachel Meerpool of CCR, who has represented other animal rights activists who have challenged AETA.

Kevin and Tyler are both animal rights activists and were indicted in July.  The government alleges that last year they released mink from a fur farm in rural Illinois and conspired to release fox from another fur farm.  The government claims that this non-violent act of releasing animals constitutes “terrorism.”  They each face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Details for Argument:

Thursday, February 19 at 10 am.
Dirksen Federal Building
219 S. Dearborn, Chicago, IL
Judge Amy St. Eve, Courtroom 1241

Everyone entering the building must go through a metal detector and show a state-issued ID.

 

For More Information on this case and the AETA:

US v. Johnson case documents
Indictment
Motion to Dismiss
Government Response to Motion
Reply to Government’s Response

Background info from People’s Law Office
Read more about our work fighting political repression and representing activists and our representation of Scott DeMuth, who was charged under the AEPA.
For more of our analysis of the impact of AETA, read “AETA and the Criminalization of a Movement”

From CCR
“Freeing Animals is Not ‘Terrorism’”
Case page: US v. Johnson

Super Lawyers Interview with Michael Deutsch

The Atticus of Attica

By Beth Taylor
Published in: 2015 Illinois Super Lawyers — February 2015

From rioting prisoners to Black Panthers to animal-rights defenders, Michael E. Deutsch has been on the front line of the fight for civil rights

Q: What were the roots of your civic activism?

A: I didn’t really become an activist until I got to law school. I graduated [Northwestern] in ’69, right at the height of the anti-Vietnam War movement.

Then I became a law clerk in the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. The Chicago conspiracy trial was going on; these anti-war activists were put on trial for crossing state lines to encourage riots—basically to encourage demonstrations against the war.

It was a very colorful trial, and the defendants were from different parts of the anti-war movement; one was a leader of the Black Panthers. I used to go down there and watch. There was this judge, Julius Hoffman, who was very against the defendants. There was a lot of commotion and a lot of acting out and drama in the courtroom. I became very immersed in wanting to become a lawyer who represents people who are fighting injustice, and [in] working for people’s rights.

I joined a group of lawyers—which I still am part of—called the People’s Law Office, which started in 1969 and is still going strong 45 years later. We represent people who are victims of police abuse and police brutality. We also are very involved in uncovering people who have been wrongfully convicted and have been in prison a long period of time. We’ve been able to free many people from prison.

My first jury trial was on behalf of Black Panthers in southern Illinois who had been attacked by the police and shot back. They were acquitted of 47 counts of attempted murder. So that was a great way to start your legal career.

Then what really influenced my commitment was the Attica prisoners’ rebellion, which happened in September of 1971. I was one of several lawyers who came from different places to represent the Attica prisoners who, by the time I got involved, had been beaten and a lot of them shot, and the prison retaken. We were trying to get them medical care and equal rights.

The state of New York was willing to sacrifice its own guards, who were being held hostage, in order to put down this prison rebellion, even though it could have been negotiated. When they stormed the prison and shot—like a turkey shoot—they killed nine of the hostages. They originally said the hostages had died because their throats had been cut, and of course the coroner determined that they had all been killed by state police bullets.

I helped to organize the legal defense of over 60 prisoners who were facing 1,400 felony counts. We organized a group called the Attica Brothers Legal Defense and I moved to Buffalo, New York, where it was based. I spent the next four or five years going back and forth from Chicago to Buffalo. Ultimately we brought a civil rights case on behalf of the [prisoners] who were killed and tortured after they took over the prison.

I realized, working on the Attica case, how important it was to stand up for people in prison and how bad the conditions and treatment of prisoners were. That was really the cause of the Attica rebellion. I realized that I could walk away from these situations, but those people in prison or the people who were victims of injustice couldn’t. So I made a commitment that that was going to be my life’s work: to expose injustice and fight for equal rights of people.

Q: What was the outcome of the Attica lawsuit?

A: We won at trial for one of the prisoners for $4 million, then that was taken away by the Court of Appeals. But ultimately, we settled the case for $12 million for the victims of Attica.

Q: Have any of your cases taken you before the U.S. Supreme Court?

A: In 1980, I appeared in a case called Carlson v. Green, which was the case that established the right to sue directly under the Eighth Amendment for damages for cruel and unusual punishment.

I represented a black man who died in a Terre Haute, Indiana, federal prison. He was the fourth man to die in the prison hospital within an eight-month period. This man was suffering from a terrible asthma attack; the doctor refused to come, even though he lived on the prison property. After several hours of him fighting for breath, the doctor said, “Give him some Thorazine.” That’s contraindicated for someone who’s having trouble breathing, and he died.

We brought a case for cruel and unusual punishment—basically a denial of medical care. The government said, “You can’t bring a case directly under the Eighth Amendment; it doesn’t provide for a private cause of action.” That case established that right. It was 7-2.

Q: What was it like arguing before the Supreme Court?

A: It’s very intimidating in a way, but I believed very strongly in the case and I had a very strong factual situation. I’m told that Thurgood Marshall kind of poked the judge sitting next to him and said, “Look at this guy; he really believes in his case.”

Then the most interesting thing: Right in the middle of my argument, they bang the gavel and say, “It’s lunchtime.” So they get up and leave. Which is good, in a way, because then I had a whole lunch period to plan the rest of my argument. But it was so shocking. As soon it’s 12 o’clock, no matter what, they just bang the gavel and they get up and leave.

Q: Which justices dissented?

A: Then-Chief Justice Warren Burger and Justice [William] Rehnquist. I recall that Justice Burger was very negative.

Q: Was it an intimidating experience?

A: The lead-up is intimidating: “I’m going to argue in front of the Supreme Court; they’re going to ask me a lot of questions. Am I going to do a good job?” But for me, I’m always very nervous whenever I go into court, no matter what. And I’ve been doing it for all these years. But as soon as I get in there and I lose myself in the struggle and I find a way to express my belief in my client and the issues in the case, nerves dissipate. I was fired up.

Q: Any other cases that really stand out?

A: A case that I’ve done on behalf of a prisoner in Indiana who was on death row and 30 days away from being executed. After many years of fighting for him, and winning once and losing once in the Indiana Supreme Court … they agreed to take the death penalty off the table, and he’ll be eligible for release in two years. He was a young black man who was accused of being involved in a bank robbery in which a police officer was killed.

Q: You also worked for two decades, starting in 1975, on behalf of the Puerto Rican independence movement.

A: I represented Puerto Rican political prisoners in U.S. courts and helped to obtain their freedom and clemency from President Jimmy Carter. I also represented Puerto Rican activists from Chicago and New York who were accused of being terrorists who were involved in clandestine work on behalf of independence. I have also testified before the U.N. decolonization committee and in other international tribunals in support of Puerto Rican independence.

Q: What changes have you seen in our society over the years?

A: One of the things that I’ve been involved with in the last 10 years is representing people accused of being terrorists.

I’ve been representing Palestinian-Americans who have been accused of giving money to people in the occupied territories and charged with providing what they call material support for terrorism. [In] one of the cases I had in Chicago, two Palestinian men, who were from Chicago, were accused of RICO [racketeering and corruption] for being part of an organization in Palestine. [Prosecutors were] saying that was a racketeering-influenced organization. Of course, the jury didn’t buy that; after a long trial, they acquitted them of everything but minor charges.

I’ve seen the courts used, in my view, to repress political activity; to over-punish people. I’ve been involved with a lot of work around the rights of prisoners and challenging high-security units. We brought lawsuits challenging keeping people locked up, basically being evaluated as threats to the institution and then being put in these units for indefinite periods of time—for two, three, four, five years in segregation. No way to get out, and no due process for getting in.

I’ve done some work for animal rights people who have been involved in releasing minks and other animals that are in these fur farms and being treated very badly. And, of course, now they’re accused of terrorism. There’s a statute called the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act which makes it a crime, a terrorist crime, to free animals or do any kind of protest about the treatment of animals that interferes with these industrial animal farms.

They have been using RICO in political situations when it was supposed to be used only against organized crime, and that’s what they’ve used with terrorism too. They’ve expanded that use to use it against people who don’t fit the definition of terrorism. Just this year, I represented, with two other lawyers, these young men. My client was just 21 years old; he had come from Florida to be part of the anti-NATO demonstrations because the NATO summit was in Chicago this summer, and they were part of demonstrating and actually causing some kind of vandalism. They were found by these two undercover Chicago police who were encouraging them to take further steps beyond just minor vandalism and talking to them about making Molotov cocktails. Before they did anything—they never were able to do anything—they arrested them and charged them with terrorism.

This was the first time, under Illinois law, they used the terrorism statute since it was passed after 9/11. [They] charged these young guys with providing material support for terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism, and possession of an incendiary device with the intent to commit terrorism. We had a long trial in the state court in Chicago and they were convicted of lesser charges. But the terrorism charges were rejected by the jury, which basically said, “We don’t think this is terrorism. These are just young guys who went over the line but certainly aren’t terrorists.”

[In another] case, two young men are accused of freeing minks in Illinois and Iowa, and they’re charged with this Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. It may be against the law, and maybe they can indict them, but why call it terrorism? I’ve found that, if you have a jury and you start talking about terrorism, either they’re going to see it and say, “Well, it’s really not terrorism,” like they said with those NATO kids, or they’re going to be influenced by that and not be able to really fairly look at the evidence. It’s a very prejudicial kind of charge.

I’ve done a lot of work representing people who are subpoenaed to grand juries, and wrote a long law review article in 1984 that’s still being quoted by people who are opposing grand juries about how the power of the grand jury is being abused by the federal government—being usurped by federal prosecutors when the grand jury is supposed to be an independent institution.

Q: Are you seeing a lot of repercussions from what’s going on with ISIS?

A: The FBI is concerned that there are people who have gone from the U.S. over to fight with that group and other groups in Syria. The FBI is very active in terms of investigating and surveilling the Arab and Muslim communities in Chicago and in New York as well.

I’m involved in a case right now in Detroit where a Palestinian woman, who’s 67 years old—lived in this country for 20 years—was arrested because they said 10 years ago when she filled out her naturalization papers, they asked her if she was ever arrested, convicted or imprisoned, and she filled out “no, no, no.” It turns out 45 years ago, in 1969 when she was a 22-year-old student, she was allegedly involved in resistance to the new occupation when the Israelis went into Gaza and the West Bank in 1967. She was put into a military tribunal that they set up, she was horrifically tortured, and she was found guilty of being involved in resistance activities against the Israel occupation.

She’s been in this country 20 years. The reason, I believe, they brought these charges is because she’s very active in the Palestinian community in Chicago and part of the Arab American Action Network. We’re saying it’s politically motivated.

Q: You are a past legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York.

A: It was started [in 1966] by lawyers who were involved in the civil rights movement in the South. One of the founders was William Kunstler, who was a well-known civil rights lawyer; [also] Arthur Kinoy and others. They set up this office in New York, and over the years it’s expanded to be involved in international human rights, women’s rights, labor rights, all kinds of different work on behalf of people who are fighting for justice in the courts.

From 1991 to 1996 I was fortunate enough to be the legal director of that institution. We had about 10 lawyers and we had a lot of cooperating lawyers who would donate their services to work on a civil rights case with the center. It’s still going strong; it was very involved in challenging the people who were put in Guantanamo and got some good opinions from the Supreme Court about that.

I was involved in several cases when I was there. One that I was proud of was getting an injunction against preventing homeless people, who were getting harassed and beaten up in Penn Station. The police would see them as homeless and jump on them and throw them out. The court said they had a right to be there and to stop any type of abuse and harassment.

Q: What do you like the best and least about your job?

A: I like fighting for people’s rights and exposing injustice. Having to be creative about how to present people’s cases to juries, basically. The thing I like least is being in front of judges who are not open-minded and are basically so pro-prosecution or pro-government that they won’t listen to reasonable arguments.

Q: What has changed in the legal arena since 1969?

A: The law has become more restrictive and the judiciary has become more conservative. Of course, I came at the time of the Warren court. After Attica, there was a period of time in which courts were trying to give prisoners constitutional rights and protect their conditions and treatment. [Recently] we’ve seen a more conservative court, both in the federal district court level and, of course, in the Supreme Court. Also, I think we’ve seen a rollback on certain basic civil rights that were being protected when I first started practicing. Even in the criminal defense field, it’s much harder to defend people, and the law has restricted some of the rights of people who are accused of crimes. We have the influx of mandatory minimums and three-strikes laws. When Attica happened, there were 200,000 people in state and federal prisons—that was in 1971, 1972. Today we have like 2.5 million.

This idea that we could somehow deal with crime by locking up more people for longer periods of time, that was the ethic that kind of took over—particularly the war on drugs and this idea that we needed to be harsher and [offer] less rehabilitation in prisons.

Q: Do you see this trend continuing?

A: The pendulum is starting to swing slowly back the other way—I think because of the financial problems that we’re experiencing. I don’t think there’s a strong sentiment among legislatures or judges that, “Oh, we’ve locked up too many people and we’re being too harsh.” But we’re spending too much money on prisons … and that’s what I think is causing the pendulum to slowly move back.

The federal sentencing guidelines are not mandatory anymore—judges can look at them but they don’t have to follow them in federal court. That’s a good development. There are rulings by federal judges about keeping people locked up indefinitely in isolation units; they’re starting to say that mentally ill people shouldn’t be kept isolated. So there’s a beginning of some liberalizing or progressive movement, but it’s slow. The pendulum has swung so far the other way, it’s going to take a while to swing back. But I’m optimistic.

International Human Rights Day and Police Abuse in the US

On International Human Rights Day, Consider the U.N.‘s Statements on the American Justice System

We usually think of “human rights abuses” as something that occur abroad. But recent U.N. proceedings have strong words for the U.S.’s domestic and international activities.
                              
BY Flint Taylor
Originally posted at In These Times
It is well past time for U.S. and local governmental officials to heed the recent findings of the U.N. Committee Against Torture and the urgings of the High Commissioner
.
Today is International Human Rights Day, first declared in 1950 by the United Nations in order to “bring to the attention ‘of the peoples of the world’ the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.” It’s a fitting day, then, to consider the recent proceedings before and findings of the United Nations Committee Against Torture, (CAT). Released before the gruesome Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation practices yesterday, the committee had strong words for the U.S.’s domestic and international human rights record.
In mid-November, representatives of the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials Project and We Charge Genocide, the parents of Michael Brown, and other activists journeyed to Geneva, Switzerland and presented evidence concerning law enforcement violence and torture in Chicago, across the United States, and at Guantanamo, to the experts of the CAT. When representatives of the United States Government presented its defense to the documented charges, many in the audience , led by the We Charge Genocide delegation, stood and unfurled signs in silent protest. On November 20th, the CAT issued its findings on these and other related human rights issues.
Chicago
With regard to the ongoing Chicago police torture scandal, which the CAT first cited in its 2006 findings, and the ongoing police violence against African Americans and Latinos in Chicago, the CAT first addressed the need for specific legislation making torture by law enforcement officers a federal crime, referencing the Law Enforcement Torture Prevention Act, which has been introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Danny Davis on two separate occasions and would make police torture a federal crime without a statute of limitations.
In the report, the Committee specifically addresses the Chicago police torture scandal, stating that
with regard to the acts of torture committed by CPD Commander Jon Burge and others under his command between 1972 and 1991, the Committee notes … that a federal rights investigation did not develop sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that prosecutable constitutional violations occurred. However, … despite the fact that Jon Burge was convicted for perjury and obstruction of justice, no Chicago police officer has been convicted for these acts of torture for reasons including the statute of limitations expiring. … [S]everal victims were ultimately exonerated of the underlying crimes, [but] the vast majority of those tortured—most of them African Americans—have received no compensation for the extensive injuries suffered.
The Committee renewed its call for torture prosecutions and gave a strong endorsement to the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials Project’s campaign for financial, psychological, medical, and educational reparations for the survivors of Burge-related torture by calling on the government to provide for the “redress for CPD torture survivors by supporting the passage of the Ordinance entitled Reparations for the Chicago Police Torture Survivors.” Reparations such as those sought in Chicago are called for by General Comment 3 to Article 14 of the UN Convention Against Torture.
The CAT also stated, in response to a report presented by We Charge Genocide, that it was “particularly concerned at the reported current police violence in Chicago, especially against African-American and Latino young people who are allegedly being consistently profiled, harassed and subjected to excessive force by Chicago Police,” and with the “frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals.”
Use of Tasers
The Committee also examined law enforcement’s use of Tasers on unarmed citizens, stating that it was “appalled at the number of reported deaths after the use of electrical discharge weapons” and singling out the recent cases of Israel “Reefa” Hernández Llach in Miami Beach, Florida, and Dominique Franklin Jr. in Sauk Village, Illinois.
It also urged that tasers be used “exclusively in extreme and limited situations —where there is a real and immediate threat to life or risk of serious injury—as a substitute for lethal weapons and by trained law enforcement personnel only,” that tasers be prohibited from use on children and pregnant women, that they be subjected to “principles of necessity and proportionality” and that they be “inadmissible in the equipment of custodial staff in prisons or any other place of deprivation of liberty.” The Committee urged the U.S. “to provide more stringent instructions to law enforcement personnel entitled to use electric discharge weapons, and to strictly monitor and supervise their use through mandatory reporting and review of each use.”
Prisons, the Death Penalty, and Juvenile Justice
The CAT also addressed the death penalty and numerous systemic human rights violations within the prisons and jails of the U.S. adult and juvenile justice system. The Committee condemned the torturous suffering that has accompanied numerous executions across the country, referencing the use of untested lethal drug cocktails, and called for a moratorium on the death penalty and commutation of death sentences  “with a view to abolish” the measure.
It also condemned sexual and other related prison violence, particularly against LGBTQ and mentally disturbed prisoners, the proliferation of deaths in custody, the shackling of pregnant prisoners, and the use super max prisons and other forms of extended solitary confinement. The committee recommended the prohibition of both solitary confinement for juveniles and the placement of juveniles in adult prisons, the abolishment of life without parole sentences for juveniles regardless of the crime for which they were convicted, and argued for a commitment to seeking alternatives to prison.
Guantanamo and the Use of Torture
Writing before the release of the government report on C.I.A. detention and interrogation after 9/11, the Committee expressed “its deep concern” that the U.S. government “continues to hold a number of individuals without charge at Guantanamo Bay detention facilities” as “enemy belligerents” whom the U.S. claims it is “entitled to hold” “until the end of the hostilities.” The CAT then reiterated that, in its view, this “indefinite detention constitutes … a violation” of the U.N. Convention Against Torture. It cited as evidence that out of the 148 men still held at Guantanamo, only 33 have been designated for potential prosecution, in violation of international fair trial standards, and further articulated its concern that “federal courts have rejected a significant number of habeas corpus petitions.”
Regarding the conditions at Guantanamo, the Committee “remained concerned about the secrecy surrounding conditions of confinement,” and noted “the studies received on the cumulative effect that the conditions of detention and treatment in Guantanamo have had on the psychological health of detainees.” It cited the nine deaths in Guantanamo during the period under its review, including seven suicides, repeated suicide attempts and the “recurrent mass hunger strike protests by detainees over indefinite detention and conditions of detention.” Additionally, it condemned the force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strikes, sometimes reportedly administered in an unnecessarily brutal and painful manner, which “constitutes ill-treatment in violation of the Convention.”
The Committee called on the U.S. government to
  • Cease the use of indefinite detention without charge or trial for individuals suspected of terrorism-related activities;
  • Ensure that detainees held at Guantanamo who are designated for potential prosecution be charged and tried in ordinary federal civilian courts;
  • Immediately release any other detainees who are not to be charged or tried;
  • Provide access to detainees and their counsel to all evidence used to justify the detention;
  • Investigate allegations of detainee abuse, including torture and ill-treatment, appropriately prosecute those responsible, and ensure effective redress for victims;
  • Improve the detainees’ situation so as to persuade them to cease the hunger strike;
  • Put an end to force-feeding of detainees on hunger strikes as long as they are able to make informed decisions;
  • Invite the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to visit Guantanamo Bay detention facilities, with full access to the detainees, including private meetings with them, in conformity with the terms of reference for fact-finding missions by the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council;
  • Declassify torture evidence, in particular Guantanamo detainees’ accounts of torture; and
  • Ensure that all victims of torture are able to access a remedy and obtain redress, wherever acts of torture occurred and regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator or the victim.
And, most significantly, the CAT reiterated its earlier recommendation that the U.S. “should close the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay.”
The Committee also decried the lack of prosecutions for, and transparency about, numerous apparent criminal acts, including homicides and enforced disappearances, committed by C.I.A. operatives, the U.S. military, and other U.S. agents at foreign locations including in Afghanistan, and as part of the U.S. Government’s rendition program—a call that was echoed today by U.N. officials in the wake of the C.I.A. torture report. It condemned the continued use of sleep and sensory deprivation, including blindfolds, goggles, and earmuffs, as interrogation techniques. It also called for an absolute bar to torture in all forms and circumstances, including where terrorism is alleged, and for the “declassification and prompt public release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s report on the C.I.A.’s secret detention and interrogation program with minimal redactions.”
The Michael Brown case
Despite a compelling closed-door presentation by Michael Brown’s parents, the C.A.T. did not expressly mention the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in its report. When queried about this omission, a Committee member stated that the C.A.T. “has to respect the decision” of authorities not to prosecute Officer Darren Wilson.
However, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad, in response to the Ferguson Grand Jury’s decision, issued a statement which articulated a “deep concern” about U.S. racism and its connection to law enforcement violence:
I am deeply concerned at the disproportionate number of young African Americans who die in encounters with police officers, as well as the disproportionate number of African Americans in U.S. prisons and the disproportionate number of African Americans on Death Row. It is clear that, at least among some sectors of the population, there is a deep and festering lack of confidence in the fairness of the justice and law enforcement systems. I urge the U.S. authorities to conduct in-depth examinations into how race-related issues are affecting law enforcement and the administration of justice, both at the federal and state levels.
On this, the 64th annual International Human Rights Day, it is well past time for U.S. and local governmental officials to heed the recent findings of the U.N. Committee Against Torture and the urgings of the High Commissioner by implementing the systemic changes that the Committee has recommended in its Report. To continue to ignore the problems that the CAT has identified and the remedies it suggests will doom people of color here and abroad to further racist law enforcement violence and the continuation of a fundamentally unjust criminal justice system.

 

Motion to Dismiss Filed on Behalf of Animal Rights Activists

Today, attorneys representing animal rights activists Kevin Johnson and Tyler Lang filed a motion to dismiss the indictment charging them with violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA).  The motion asserts that the AETA is unconstitutional.

Kevin Johnson is represented by Michael Deutsch of People’s Law Office with co-counsel National Lawyers Guild member Lillian McCartin and Rachel Meerpool of Center for Constitutional Rights.  Tyler Lang is represented by Geoffry Meyer of the Federal Defender Program.

Kevin and Tyler are both animal rights activists and were indicted in July.  The government alleges that last year they released mink from a fur farm in rural Illinois and conspired to release fox from another fur farm.  The government claims that this non-violent act of releasing animals constitutes “terrorism.”  They each face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The AETA, which we have written about before, was passed by Congress and signed into law in 2006, amending and expanding the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA).  The act makes “damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise” or “intentionally plac[ing] a person in fear of death or serious bodily injury” federal crimes of terrorism.

The motion filed today argues that the AETA is unconstitutional because it makes no distinction between loss caused by criminal acts and loss caused by boycotts and other constitutionally-protected activity, and that, in any event, punishing non-violent activity as “terrorism” is an unconstitutional denial of due process.

Our work representing Kevin Johnson is part of our continued commitment to combating state repression and defending activists who are labeled “terrorists” based on their political beliefs.

For more information on the case:
Read the Motion to Dismiss and Indictment
Read more about our work fighting political repression and representing activists
Read about our representation of Scott DeMuth, who was charged under the AEPA.
“Freeing Animals is Not ‘Terrorism’” by CCR
Read CCR’s case page: US v. Johnson

Rasmea Odeh Trial to Begin Tuesday

Michael Deutsch (left) and Rasmea Odeh (right)

Palestinian-American community activist Rasmea Odeh is scheduled to go to trial in Detroit on Tuesday, November 4.  Odeh, represented by Michael Deutsch of People’s Law Office and attorney Jim Fennerty is being charged in Federal Court for failing to disclose a prior conviction in her immigration application to the United States.

The prior conviction was in Israel and related to a 1969 bombing at a supermarket in Jerusalem.  Odeh had been arrested, interrogated and tortured by the Israeli military.  As a result of the torture, she confessed to involvement with the bombing.

She served 10 years in prison in Israel and after she was released, she traveled to Geneva where she testified about the torture she suffered at the hands of the Israeli Defense Forces.  Odeh then lived in Lebanon and Jordan before immigrating to the United States in 1994.

Since living in the United States, Odeh has been an active member of the Palestinian-American community and became the deputy director of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN).  AAAN is a Chicago-based non-profit that provides services, organizes anti-discrimination campaigns and Palestinian solidarity work.

This Palestinian solidarity work has made AAAN the target of government surveillance.  In 2010 the AAAN was investigated by the FBI and the FBI raided the home of Hatem Abudayyeh, AAAN’s executive director.  As part of this investigation, the FBI wanted more information on Rasmea’s background and sent a request to the Israeli government to pull her file.

Rasmea’s case exemplifies the willingness of the federal government to use criminal legal system against the Palestinian-American community.  People’s Law Office is proud to represent Rasmea and to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine.

Follow People’s Law Office on Twitter and Facebook for updates on the trial.

For more information about Rasmea’s case:
Listen to attorney Michael Deutsch and co-counsel Jim Fennerty speak about Rasmea’s case on Worldview on WBEZ

Tortured and Raped by Israel, Persecuted by the United States by Dahr Jamail in Truthout

Judge deals major blow to Rasmea Odeh’s defense by Charlotte Silver on Electronic Intifada

Federal Judge Won’t Delay Trial for Arab Activist in Detroit Free Press

 

To learn more about the work of People’s Law Office defending those targeted by the government, read the Political Repression page on this site

Governor of Puerto Rico Visits Oscar Lopez in Prison

Terre Haute, Indiana
Alejandro García Padilla/ Governor of Puerto Rico
October 8, 2014
The morning was colder than anticipated: 48 degrees Fahrenheit. I arrived the night before in Indianapolis, Indiana, from where we left, driving for an hour and a half, to the Holiday Inn in Terre Haute. That morning we met to have breakfast with Puerto Rican Congressman Luis Gutiérrez. Then we left for Terre Haute Federal Prison. Arriving, the cold hit us again. We walked to the entrance. There we identified ourselves and waited a few minutes to enter.
 
That prison was built in 1938 and later adapted for current requirements. It’s made of dark brick. It looks well maintained, clear and clean on the inside. Photos of the building as it looked in 1938 adorn the lobby. While I looked at them, the guard called me to go in. We passed the first and second gates. Then we walked through an internal yard that leads to the main building. Walking out to this yard, it was still cold. I thought of all the souls gathered there since 1938. How many deserved it. How many didn’t. How many who deserved it never got there. How many who deserve it now aren’t there.
 
We arrived at the main building. Another gate. A hallway, another door, and then another gate. Then a waiting room with some one hundred chairs. Comfortable. Like an airport. Placed in line across from each other. They’re assigned by number. We sit down. At the other end, a family with a prisoner.
 
Soon, from a door at the other end, out came the man I came to see. A short man, showing his years. He looked at me and smiled. He’s the same as he looks in the photo published with the column this newspaper publishes on Saturdays. He went to the guard and then walked over to us. Luis hugged him and they greeted each other with affection, like people who have known each other for more than 40 years. Then I greeted him. I gave him a big hug, and he returned it. I told him about the solidarity of his people and the affection all of us in Puerto Rico have for him. We hugged strongly again. We sat down. 
 
For almost three hours we talked about his childhood in San Sebastián. About his life in Chicago. About people in Chicago at the time. About his friends. About people in Puerto Rico at the time. About people in Puerto Rico now. We talked about Vietnam, where he was declared a hero. We talked about why he joined the independence movement. We talked about the current problems in Puerto Rico and about the most important thing to resolve them: solidarity.
 
Oscar López Rivera has been in prison for 33 years. He hasn’t been accused of committing any violent act. He hasn’t been connected to any violent act. He was accused of conspiring. The line that divides “conspiring” from “thinking” is very fine. I don’t think Oscar would be a danger for the future of our country, of our community, or of our family. His sentence, far too excessive, violates the most elemental principles of humanity, sensitivity and justice. Oscar López Rivera owes no debt to society, and if he ever did, he paid it a long time ago. He hasn’t done us any harm. 
 
Who has harmed us are corrupt politicians or those who mortgaged the future, our present, borrowing without caring who had to pay. But they’re not in Terre Haute. What has harmed us are the advertisements of the Republican ultra right of the U.S. press, sponsoring a local political party. But they’re not in Terre Haute. What has harmed us are those who only worry about votes, or about their counterpart in the media, ratings. But they don’t even know where Terre Haute is. Who harms us are the parents who aren’t concerned about their children’s education. But they aren’t even interested in knowing about what Terre Haute is.
 
After about three hours, I asked him what message, if any, he wanted me to take to you. He thought for a moment. He said he was grateful for what has been done for his release. Then he spoke of hope and of solidarity. Yes. This man who has been in prison for 33 years. Who is already 71 years old. He still has heart and spirit to talk about solidarity and hope. What a lesson for so many people!
 
The time arrived for me to leave. I had to go back to Indianapolis to catch my flight. I wanted to talk longer with him. I gave him a big hug. I told him that we would keep working for his release. I asked God to bless him. He thanked me. I thanked him. 
 
Leaving, it was still 48 degrees Fahrenheit. But for me, now it was a warm morning.
 
I hope to greet that compatriot again, in Puerto Rico. 

Public Statement from Brian Church of NATO 3

The following is a public statement from Brian “Jacob” Church of the NATO 3.  Jacob is serving his sentence at Pinckneyville Correctional Center.

brianjacobchurch

You can write to Jacob at:
Brian Church
M44717
P.O. Box 999
Pinckneyville, IL 62274

 

To my dearest friends and comrades,

I want to thank you all for your never ending love and support for the three of us as we continue to resist this system of state oppression.  The last two years have been a long, hard fought struggle, but finally, with trial done and sentences handed out, we’re on the home stretch.

I’m pretty sure I can say for all three of us that had it not been for the international showing of solidarity for our struggle, we would have been in a different, and much worse, situation.  For me, this support has helped me both physically and mentally.  You all have been most inspiring and uplifting, with constant reminders to stay strong and keep my head up.  It has helped me stay focused and to remember why I resist in the first place.  Please know that even if I may not have written back, that every letter and book I have received has been read and appreciated.

I also wanted to give special thanks to our really great team of attorneys and paralegals working around the clock, through thick and thin, even through the pains of childbirth, just to make sure we were able to have a fair and proper defense.  Your counsel and advice, your opinions (professional and otherwise) and the ability to fight like lions in the courtroom, matched with your dedication to seeing Justice served, has been priceless.  This is probably a good thing because we probably couldn’t have paid anything anyhow, as Tom likes to point out.

Lastly, I want to thank the NATO 3/NATO 5 support committee.  Your weekly visits, media outreach and fundraising has been so important to our defense and spirits.  You have worked for over two years to support us, putting your personal lives on hold and you never had to do any of it.

Every single one of you have my absolute respect for what you’ve done and that’s what helps to make this struggle so worth so much to me.

As it stands right now, I should be released in November 2014.  I cannot wait to see how much things have changed.  Two and a half years may not seem like a lot out there, but we feel every day of it in here.

Much love,
Brian Church

 

 

The Legal Work Defending Independentistas in the U.S.

The National Lawyer’s Guild Work Defending Independentistas in the U.S.

By Michael Deutsch, with assistance of Jan Susler
Originally appeared on claridad.com

As a young lawyer relatively new to politics and prisons, my work with the Attica Brothers and with Rafael Cancel Miranda and the other Nationalist political prisoners in the early 1970’s, changed my life forever. In the case of the Puerto Rican political prisoners, their courageous commitment to the self-determination and independence of their country, and their warmth and humanity, despite the hardships of two decades in prison, greatly influenced the course of my own work as a lawyer over the next decades. It was the example of these extraordinary fighters, along with many other political prisoners with whom I have worked, that has fueled my continuing dedication to work for justice. To all past and present political prisoners I owe a deep debt of gratitude.

The National Lawyers Guild, which will be celebrating its annual convention in Puerto Rico this October, has a long history defending Puerto Rican militants and activists. Much of the beginnings of this work can be traced to Guild lawyers from the People’s Law Office (PLO) in Chicago meeting Rafael Cancel Miranda in the early 1970’s while he was a prisoner at Marion Federal Prison. It was through those prison visits with Rafael that many of us first learned of the history of the struggle against U.S. colonialism over Puerto Rico and the heroes of this resistance.

Through Rafael, Guild lawyers from the PLO learned of the four other Puerto Rican Nationalists also incarcerated in U.S. prisons since the 1950’s, – Lolita Lebron, Irvin Flores, Andres Figueroa Cordero, and Oscar Collazo. Lawyers from the PLO visited each of the prisoners – Lolita at Alderson, West Virginia; and Irvin, Oscar and Andres in Leavenworth, Kansas – and developed a lawsuit challenging some of their conditions of confinement, restricted visits, denial of access to Claridad – the independence movement weekly newspaper – and their continued incarceration. While the Nationalist Prisoners did not recognize the right of the U.S. to hold them as criminals, and refused to directly ask the U.S. courts for their freedom, their family members and independence leaders assumed the role of plaintiffs in the lawsuit and petitioned for their freedom.

Guild lawyers joining with lawyers from Puerto Rico filed the case in Washington D.C. in 1976, as part of a revitalized international political campaign to “Free the Five.“ The case was assigned to the famous Watergate Judge, John Sirica, who severed the cases and transferred them to four separate federal district courts, near the respective prisons where the Nationalists were held. By this time Andres was suffering from colon cancer and was incarcerated in the Federal Medical Prison in Springfield, Missouri.

The Nationalists prisoners decided that the lawyers should pursue the case on behalf of Andres, and within a year, fueled by a strong political campaign, Andres was given a medical clemency and released. At the same time, Guild lawyers from Chicago prepared a petition to the United Nations Human Rights Commission calling for the freedom of the Nationalists, and also appeared on their behalf before the United Nations Decolonization Committee, whose 1978 resolution called for their freedom.

In September of 1979, an international campaign, with the support of broad sectors of the people of Puerto Rico including the former governor, Hernandez Colon and the Catholic Bishop Antulio Parilla, successfully pressured President Carter to grant the unconditional freedom of the remaining four. Guild lawyers, with lawyers from Puerto Rico and family members, went to the prisons where they were held, and escorted them first to Chicago and New York where they were greeted by large crowds, and then home to Puerto Rico where thousands received them at the airport.

Grand Jury Work

Even before the release of the Nationalists, Guild lawyers were involved in representing independentistas subpoenaed to federal grand juries in New York and Chicago investigating the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional (FALN), a U.S. based clandestine Puerto Rican group which emerged in 1974 and which carried out bombings and other militant actions calling for the freedom of the Nationalists and the end to U.S. colonialism.

Lureida Torres from Puerto Rico, and later Maria Cueto, the executive director of the U.S. Episcopal Church Hispanic Affairs Commission, and her assistant Raisa Nemekin, and three brothers Julio, Luis and Andres Rosado, were subpoenaed in New York. In Chicago, several leaders of the Puerto Rican community, Jose Lopez, Myrna Salgado, Steven Guerra and Roberto Caldero were subpoenaed, as well as two Mexicano activists, Ricardo Romero and Pedro Archuleta from the Southwest. Guild lawyers represented all of them. Through creative lawyering, including challenging the use of secret illegal electronic surveillance, the lawyers were able to delay their inevitable political detention, thus reducing the time they were imprisoned for civil contempt for their refusal to testify before the grand jury. The grand jury resisters took a position of non-collaboration with the repressive use of the grand jury, and hundreds of people mobilized to support them. Later two independence activists, Carlos Noya and Federico Cintron, were subpoenaed to a New York grand jury. Defended by lawyers from Puerto Rico and the Guild, they also refused to collaborate and were imprisoned for civil contempt.

Several years later, in an unprecedented act of political repression, five of the grand jury resisters, Julio Rosado, Riccardo Romero, Andres Rosado, Maria Cueto and Steven Guerra, after their release from civil contempt, were indicted in Brooklyn for criminal contempt based on their prior refusal to testify, and put on trial. Facing a possible sentence of up to life in prison, they were represented by Guild lawyers. They were convicted after a hard-fought political trial, during which the government argued that they were aiding terrorism by not testifying. The government asked for a 15 year sentence, showing the judge pictures of victims from FALN bombings. Each one of the five was sentenced to 3 years in prison.

In 1983, Guild lawyers were also involved in the case of Alberto de Jesus, a young man who had left Puerto Rico to avoid a grand jury investigating the Puerto Rican clandestine movement. He was arrested in Green Bay, Wisconsin, for using a false social security card. Living in Wisconsin, Alberto had earned the respect and admiration of many human rights activists and people from the religious community, who traveled to Milwaukee to support him at his sentencing.

Part of Guild work around the grand jury and the Puerto Rican independence movement included public education since many people in the United States were not aware of the colonial case of Puerto Rico and the grand jury’s use against the independence movement.

THE FALN AND SEDITIOUS CONSPIRACY

In 1979, William Guillermo Morales was arrested after an explosion in an apartment in Queens, accused of membership in the FALN, and charged with possession of explosives. He was first put on trial in federal court in Brooklyn. Represented by Guild lawyers, he proclaimed he was a Prisoner of War fighting against the crime of colonialism, and demanded to be transferred to an international forum. This was the first time that a Puerto Rican asserted international law as a defense in the U.S. courts. The court denied Morales’ claim, but his Guild lawyers argued that he was indeed a prisoner of war and that the real crime was the U.S. colonial control over Puerto Rico. Morales was sentenced to 10 years. Immediately following his conviction, he was put on trial in New York State court for similar charges and given an additional 55 years.

Guild lawyers would again be involved in defending Morales after his convictions. After a daring escape from a New York prison hospital, he was later arrested in Mexico, where he was tortured and imprisoned. Guild lawyers worked with progressive Mexican counsel and helped to oppose U.S. efforts to extradite him to the United States. A successful political campaign to fight the extradition allowed Morales to go to Cuba, where he was granted political asylum.

In April of 1980, 11 Puerto Ricans were arrested in Evanston, Illinois and accused of being part of the FALN. They were first tried in state court and sentenced to terms of 8 to 30 years. The U.S. then indicted them for seditious conspiracy, the same charge lodged against Albizu Campos and other Nationalist Party members in the 1930’s and in the 1950’s. Like Morales, the accused FALN prisoners, Carlos Alberto Torres, Carmen Valentin, Dylcia Pagan, Alicia Rodriguez, Lucy Rodriguez, Elizam Escobar, Ricardo Jimenez, Luis Rosa, Adolfo Matos, and Alfredo Mendez also asserted their right to be treated as POWs. Assisted by Guild lawyers who acted as legal advisors, since the accused refused to participate in what they considered an illegal trial, the accused filed an extensive document supporting their claim under international law. The lawyers also filed a petition with the U.N. Human Rights Commission and raised their case in international fora in Malta, Barcelona and Cuba. The federal prosecution resulted in grossly disproportionate sentences ranging from 55 to 90 years, with the judge lamenting that he could not give them the death penalty.

During the Illinois state court proceedings, Alicia Rodriguez was gagged and beaten for speaking out about the illegal nature of their criminal prosecution. A Guild lawyer who condemned this brutal, demeaning treatment was held in contempt, and immediately taken into custody until bail was obtained from the Appellate Court. The judge also threatened to throw another lawyer out the window of his chambers.

One of those arrested in Evanston, Maria Haydee Torres, was taken to New York and tried for a bombing at the Mobil Oil Building in Manhattan. She was physically brutalized in the course of being forced to participate in a line-up, witnessed by a Guild lawyer, refused to participate in her trial, and sat in a holding center with her legal consultant, a Guild lawyer, listening to her trial over special speakers. She was given a life sentence.

The following year, Oscar Lopez Rivera was arrested and charged with the same seditious conspiracy. While he assumed the same POW position, Oscar, advised by Guild lawyers, confronted one of those arrested in Evanston, Alfredo Mendez, who the FBI, through isolation and promises of leniency, had made into a government witness.

In July of 1983, there were four more arrests of accused FALN members in Chicago – Alejandrina Torres, Edwin Cortes, Alberto Rodriguez and Jose Rodriguez, also charged with seditious conspiracy. The government, based on information provided by Mendez, located safe houses in private apartments rented under false names, and placed secret cameras and filmed bomb-making activities. Guild lawyers convinced the judge to suppress this evidence as illegally obtained without any legal statutory authorization. The government took an interlocutory appeal, and the appeals court found that, regardless of the absence of any authorizing law, the government had the inherent authority in fighting terrorism to enter a private dwelling and place cameras there. At trial, one of the defendants, represented by Guild lawyers, presented a legal defense, while the three others, with Guild lawyers acting as legal consultants, took the POW position. All were convicted. Jose Rodriguez who presented a legal defense was given probation, and the three others were sentenced to 35 years.

The Guild lawyers who represented the POWS were criticized by many members of the bar, including other Guild lawyers. Many asked, “Why didn’t the lawyers convince the accused to make a legal defense?” And “by not presenting a traditional legal defense weren’t these lawyers abdicating their responsibility as lawyers?” Despite this criticism, the lawyers for the POWs believed that they were acting in the highest tradition of radical lawyers, following the political direction of their clients and using the courtroom to put forth the legal/political position of their clients. Nonetheless, these Guild lawyers not only had to endure the negative opinions of their colleagues, but also suffered attacks on their competency and reputation. Creative lawyering, however, had established the international law framework to help build a campaign for their release.

The negative fall-out against the lawyers was nothing compared to the treatment that the political prisoners suffered in U.S. prisons. They were placed in special sensory deprivation isolation units, including the Alderson Cardinal Unit, Lexington Woman’s High Security Unit, U.S. Prison at Marion and ADX Florence, Colorado. They were subjected to discriminatory and humiliating treatment, sensory deprivation isolation, and arbitrarily denied visits, literature and mail; in other words, denied contact with their political movement, family and supporters. Guild lawyers were involved in campaigns to end the torturous treatment. In the case of the Lexington unity Guild lawyers, along with other attorneys, brought a lawsuit challenging the treatment of similarly situated political prisoners and with the support of a public campaign eventually closed down the Lexington unit.

LOS MACHETEROS CASE IN CONNECTICUT

On August 30, 1985, hundreds of FBI agents raided numerous homes and workplaces in Puerto Rico, arresting and transporting out of the country to Connecticut accused members ofLos Macheteros, (Sugarcane Cutters), a highly successful Puerto Rico based clandestine group, charging them with involvement with the expropriation of 7 million dollars from a Wells Fargo depot in Hartford. Working with lawyers from Puerto Rico, Guild lawyers from New York, Connecticut, Boston and Chicago organized a joint legal defense team. Discovery revealed that in the course of months of secret investigation of the independence movement, the FBI had illegally recorded hundreds of personal conversations and had seized thousands of political books, pamphlets and personal diaries. Evoking claims of terrorism, the government used a new “preventive detention” law to deny bail to many of those arrested. While some were detained as long as three years, Guild lawyers were successful in challenging the indefinite pre-trial detention of those arrested, ultimately obtaining the release of all the accused on bail. The lawyers were also able to have much of the electronic surveillance suppressed. Guild lawyers formed part of the defense team that represented those accused at trial, and also help to negotiate substantially reduced sentences for those who did not go to trial. Guild lawyers also represented on appeal those who had been convicted at trial.

During the court proceedings in the Machetero case in Connecticut, another case againstindependentistas was taking place in Chicago. In 1986, several community organizers were charged with conspiracy to free Oscar Lopez from Leavenworth federal prison, resulting from an FBI sting operation designed to ensnare community people active in the campaign for the release of the FALN prisoners. Guild lawyers represented the accused at trial and on appeal. Oscar Lopez was sentenced to an additional 15 years and transferred to super max prisons for the next 12 years, and his codefendants Jamie Delgado and Dora Garcia were sentenced to 4 and 3 years respectively.

The case was emblematic of the FBI’s continuing attack on Chicago’s Puerto Rican community. The FBI raided the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and Pedro Albizu Campos Alternative High School, with agents searching the community institutions for hours. The raid was part of continuing efforts by the U.S. government to frighten community members by labeling the Center and school as “terrorist” institutions. Guild lawyers stood in solidarity with the Puerto Rican community condemning these repressive actions.

In yet another case in Chicago, professor Jose Solis Jordan was tried in 1999 for planting two pipe bombs outside a military recruiting center. Represented by Guild lawyers, the defense centered on the FBI’s use of an informant/provocateur to infiltrate the Puerto Rican community and ensnare people active in the campaign for the release of the political prisoners. Solis was convicted and sentenced to 4 years in prison.

THE CAMPAIGN TO FREE THE FALN PRISONERS

In 1993, Guild lawyers working closely with the Puerto Rican community in the U.S. and the Puerto Rico based human rights campaign filed a petition for executive clemency on behalf of the FALN and some of the Machetero prisoners and began to garner support for their release in Puerto Rico, the U.S. and internationally. In 1999, President Clinton offered to commute their sentences, declaring that “the prisoners were serving extremely lengthy sentences–in some cases 90 years–which were out of proportion to their crimes.” The president said he was moved by the support from “various Members of Congress, a number of religious organizations, labor organizations, human rights groups, and Hispanic civic and community groups” along with “widespread support across the political spectrum within Puerto Rico,” and thousands of letters requesting their release. He also indicated he was moved by “worldwide support on humanitarian grounds from numerous quarters,” pointing specifically to former President Jimmy Carter, Nobel Prize Laureate South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Coretta Scott King.

As the prisoners consulted about whether to accept the offered commutations, which did not include all of them, and which provided for parole-type conditions upon release, the right wing set about to try to sabotage the release of the prisoners. Several committees in both houses of the legislature convened hearings, and both houses overwhelmingly approved a joint resolution condemning Clinton’s offer, accusing him of “making deplorable concessions to terrorists and placing in danger the national security in conceding clemency to Puerto Rican ‘terrorists.’”

A month later, after more than 100,000 Puerto Ricans marched to show support, the prisoners’ agreed that those eligible for immediate release would accept the offer, while Oscar López Rivera, who would not have been eligible for release for another 10 years, would remain in prison in solidarity with those not included in the offer.

On September 10, 1999, eleven women and men became former political prisoners, emerging from prison to be received with a hero’s welcome, in Chicago, where two returned to their families and communities, in San Juan, were nine went to live. With the love and support of the Puerto Rican people, they all integrated into civil society, and have since lived productive, law-abiding lives, just as the previous generation of Puerto Rican political prisoners.

In 2010, Carlos Alberto Torres, represented by a Guild lawyer, was released on parole after having served 30 years in prison. Haydée Torres was also released after serving 30 years. Today Oscar López Rivera, represented by a Guild lawyer, is the only remaining prisoner from the Chicago FALN cases. After 32 years behind bars, the call for his release enjoys even more support than that garnered in 1999, including numerous NLG resolutions.

Today, Guild lawyers are instrumental in organizing and advising the international campaign to free Oscar Lopez Rivera. They have been at the forefront in helping to obtain the support of many sectors of society throughout the world. They continue to testify annually before the U.N. Decolonization Committee, representing the NLG International Committee, and have lent their advice and expertise to assist lawyers representing new grand jury resisters and two fugitive Macheteros, Norberto and Avelino Gonzalez Claudio, arrested and imprisoned over the last several years. Also Guild lawyers were involved in helping to expose the 2005 FBI assassination of Machetero leader Filberto Ojeda Rios.

In all of this work, the National Lawyers Guild and Guild lawyers have stood in solidarity with the Puerto Rican people in their fight against political repression and their struggle for independence and self-determination.

Thanks to Sylvia Solá, Guillermo Rebollo Gil, María Cristina y Lowell Fiet for the translation.

NOTES:

1 This article does not cover the work of the Puerto Rico Legal Project, whose legal support for the independence movement will be discussed in a separate article.

2 The author apologizes for any Guild work on behalf of the independence movement which was unintentionally left out.

3 The Guild Lawyers involved included Michael Deutsch, Mara Siegel and Dennis Cunningham. The lawyers from Puerto Rico included Emilio Soler Mari, Luis “Willie” Abreu and John Passalacqua.

4 Instrumental in the coordination of this campaign was Nelson Canals.

5 Among the Guild lawyers involved in the representation of grand jury witnesses were Elizabeth M. Fink, Margaret Ratner-Kunstler, Susan B. Tipograph, Martin Stolar and Doris Peterson from New York; Jose Antonio “Abi” Lugo from Puerto Rico; Michael Deutsch, Dennis Cunningham, Mara Siegel, and Kingsley Clarke from Chicago.

6 Non-collaboration with U.S. federal grand juries has been a continuing principal of the independence movement. The FBI conceded that the refusal of independentistas to testify before grand juries had stymied their investigation into the FALN.

7 See e.g. Deutsch, The Improper Use of the Federal Grand Jury: An Instrument for the Internment of Political Activists, 75 Journal of Criminal Law and criminology, 1159 (Winter 1984): Berkan, The Federal Grand Jury: An Introduction to the Institution, Its Historical Role, Its Current Use and the Problems Faced by the Target Witness, 17 Revista Juridica Del La Universidad Interamericana 103 (1984)

8 William was represented by Michael Deutsch and Elizabeth M. Fink.

9 In state court William was represented by Susan B. Tipograph. After Morales’ escape, Attorney Tipograph was the subject of intensive FBI surveillance and harassment.

10 Among the Guild lawyers who acted as legal advisers were Michael Deutsch, Mara Siegel, Edward Voci, Kinglsey Clarke and Dennis Cunningham.

11 The lawyer, Mara Siegel, had her contempt sentence reversed by the Appellate Court, but was later reinstated by the Illinois Supreme Court.

12 Involved with the suppression challenge were Guild lawyers, David Thomas and Michael Deutsch. In addition, Melinda Power and Dennis Cunningham acted as legal advisors.

13 Jan Susler, Elizabeth Fink, Michael Deutsch, Mary O’Melveny, and Adjoa Aiyertoro from the ACLU, National Prison Project comprised the legal team

14 Among the Guild lawyers involved were William Kunstler, Leonard Weinglass, Ronald Kuby, and Richard Harvey from New York; Linda Backiel then from Philadelphia; Michael Avery from Boston; John Schoenhorn, Richard Reeve, Diane Polan, John Williams and Margaret Levy from Connecticut; Michael Deutsch from Chicago; and Juan Ramon Acevedo and Rafael Anglada from Puerto Rico.

15 The Guild lawyers included Carol Brook, Jeffrey Haas, and Jan Susler.

16 Solis was represented by Linda Backiel and Jed Stone.

17 In 1995, Guild lawyers also assisted independence leader Juan Mari Bras, in his effort to renounce his U.S. citizenship and affirm his right to his Puerto Rican nationality, and to reject the U.S. citizenship that was imposed on Puerto Ricans against their will by an act of the U.S. Congress. After months of delay, pressure by the independence movement assisted by Guild lawyers forced the U.S. government to accept Mari Bras’ renunciation.