Friday, January 23, 2009

Court Update - "Big Surprise": Shotgun Bought on Internet is No Match

Update from SF 8 hearing of January 23
In a brief court hearing on Friday, January 23, attorneys for the San Francisco 8 once again tried to pry discovery (potential evidence) from the prosecution.

California State Prosecutors revealed that federal wiretaps of the defendants were reviewed by a US Attorney’s “taint team” which deemed them non-discoverable (not to be made available to the defense) because they lack relevance. This was immediately challenged by defense attorneys who argued that the federal government cannot be expected to determine the relevance of their own surveillance given the history of COINTELPRO (the FBI’s counter intelligence program) which targeted the Black Panther Party and these very defendants for the last 40 years. In light of this history and the fact that this very prosecution was started by the federal government after 2000, several defense attorneys argued, you can’t say that the Federal Government and the FBI have no interest in this case, and those same agencies cannot determine the relevance or lack of relevance of these wiretaps.

John Philipsborn, who represents Hank Jones, made it very clear that there is substantial evidence of close FBI surveillance of several of these defendants along with many other people associated with the Black Panther Party. It is more than reasonable, he argued, that the defense team determine the relevance of the wiretaps, not just a federal “taint team.”

Judge Moscone agreed to review an affidavit from this “taint team” and rule on these wiretaps.

Chuck Bourdon, who represents Francisco Torres, once again argued that all fingerprint evidence be turned over by the prosecution. These requests were originally made at the beginning of these hearings and still have not been fully complied with.

Close to 200 pages of additional materials are being deemed “non-discoverable” by the California prosecutors on behalf of New York prosecutors. These documents date back to the 1970s and the New York 3 case – which was tried twice and resulted in the convictions of Herman Bell, Jalil Muntaqim and Nuh Washington (now deceased). The events connected to that New York case are being re-raised in one of the conspiracy counts against Herman Bell, Jalil Muntaqim and Francisco Torres. Not only is the prosecution raising more than 30-year old legal issues that have already been tried, but they are clearly trying to limit raising issues of COINTELPRO, the use of torture, and the government conspiracy to destroy the Black liberation movement.

Before the hearing ended, prosecutors revealed that the highly touted shotgun that was purchased through the Internet and sent to the FBI labs last October for testing as the “missing murder weapon” has now been found to NOT match any other weapons evidence in this case. That weapon, much like the highly touted DNA swabs taken in June of 2006 and only last year determined to not match any of the defendants, only served as the prosecutor’s “new evidence” argument to the media, and turns out to be yet another lie.

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