Friday, December 3, 2010

Canceled: Evidentiary hearing for Cisco

In a brief court appearance December 3 for Francisco (Cisco) Torres, Judge Moscone granted the defense motion for an evidentiary hearing WHICH HAS SINCE BEEN CANCELED. The defense had planned to call retired San Francisco police officer Henry Fikkers to testify about wiretaps he has claimed to know about.

The police, FBI, and prosecution have claimed all along that there were no wiretaps relevant to the case, an assertion which seems absurd on its face given the well documented use of taps on the left and on the Black Panther Party in particular during the time period of the case (1968-1973). However, many of those wiretaps were illegal and courts have thrown out charges in other cases based on their use, so it is no surprise that the state wishes to hide their possible existence in the San Francisco 8 case.

Even though she has joined the ancestors, our sister Marilyn Buck is still extending her aid in our struggle for justice -- it was her unbowed assertion of solidarity with the Black Liberation Movement and the very public celebration of her life at memorials across the country that set off officer Fikkers vile rant that exposed the wiretaps.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Report from court November 18 - Delay and phantom evidence

In a brief appearance in court today on the last remaining charge in the San Francisco 8 case, Judge Moscone set December 3 to hear arguments as to whether there will be an evidentiary hearing on possible wiretap evidence. The defense filed a motion for the hearing after a retired San Francisco police officer let slip his having heard of such evidence, which had previously been denied by the prosecution. Although supporters in the courtroom were fewer than before, there was still a visible presence reaffirming to all parties that we are not going away.

If the judge grants the motion, the evidentiary hearing will be held December 15. Note that this will be limited to the existence (or not) of wiretaps; it is not the long-delayed Preliminary Hearing to determine whether there will even be a trial. The continued delays and the piecemeal revelations of lost, hidden, destroyed, and phantom evidence only strengthen the defense motion to drop the "charges" due to prejudicial delay. Actually, the "charges" have now dwindled to a single charge against a single remaining defendant, Francisco "Cisco" Torres.

In addition to hearing arguments on the motion for an evidentiary hearing, the judge will also use December 3 to schedule future court dates.

Come to court December 3 at 9:30 a.m., Department 23. Representing our continuing support is crucial, even at these "routine" court appearances

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Report from court October 13

The October 13 court appearance for San Francisco 8 defendant Francisco (Cisco) Torres merely scheduled the next arguments on the defense motion to hold an evidentiary hearing. These arguments will be heard November 18th at 9:30 a.m. in Department 20, 850 Bryant St.

At the previous court date, Cisco's attorney, Chuck Bourdon, with attorney Rai Sue Sussman, filed a motion for an evidentiary hearing to be held before the Preliminary Hearing on the one remaining murder charge against Cisco, the only remaining defendant. The evidentiary hearing is to examine the existence of wiretap evidence from 1971 which may have been "lost," hidden, or destroyed. While the prosecution has denied that such wiretap evidence exists, a retired San Francisco police officer has claimed knowledge of wiretaps in a vile rant against the late Marilyn Buck while threatening to disrupt her upcoming memorials, November 7th in Oakland and November 13th in New York City.

The prosecution is acting as if such missing evidence is insignificant and opposes even a limited evidentiary hearing.

There was again a substantial turnout of supporters in the courtroom and hallways. Cisco sent his appreciation.

Come to court November 18th at 9:30 a.m., Department 20, 850 Bryant St - for arguments on whether there will be an evidentiary hearing. Representing our continuing support is crucial, even at these "routine" court appearances.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Wiretaps in SF8 case after all? Report on court Sep 17, 2010

A brief court appearance on September 17 for the last of the San Francisco 8 defendants, Francisco (Cisco) Torres, turned out to be not so routine.

Cisco's attorney, Chuck Bourdon, with attorney Rai Sue Sussman, filed a motion for an evidentiary hearing to be held before the ever-receding Preliminary Hearing on the one remaining charge (murder). The evidentiary hearing for which they are calling is to examine the existence of possible wiretap evidence from 1971 which may have been "lost," hidden, or destroyed. While the prosecution has denied that such wiretap evidence exists, a retired San Francisco police officer has claimed knowledge of them (in a vile rant against the memory of the late Marilyn Buck, along with a threat to disrupt her upcoming memorial).

There was a large and moving show of solidarity from supporters in the courtroom and hallways. Cisco sent his appreciation. Representing our continuing support is crucial, even at these "routine" court appearances – and sometimes we are witness to something completely unexpected.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Waiting for more discovery in last SF8 case

Numerous supporters of the San Francisco 8 came to the San Francisco courthouse at the beginning of the month (July 1) even though the only issue to be decided was the scheduling of future court dates. This was an important show of support for Francisco Torres, the last of the SF 8 still facing charges, since the prosecution may have hoped that the summer doldrums and long gaps between court appearances would erode solidarity.

The judge set September 17 for the next status appearance and for establishing the briefing schedule for the motion to dismiss the remaining charges.

Defense attorney Chuck Bourdon explained that the FBI has still not provided all the evidence in the discovery process, claiming that they are still looking for it. In the meantime it only becomes more apparent that the long delays in the thirty-nine-year old case are prejudicial to the cause of justice.

So mark your calendars: September 17 at 850 Bryant Street, San Francisco.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Strong support for SF 8 - Cisco Torres hearing

Francisco Torres at the rallyA spirited demonstration Monday morning (April 19, 2010) included many members of the community, five of the San Francisco 8, leading members of the Black clergy, San Francisco supervisors Eric Mar and John Avalos, and the beat of the Brass Liberation Orchestra. The crowd demanded that the charges be dropped against Francisco Torres, the last remaining defendant in the case.

The Brass Liberation Orchestra plays for the SF 8
The actual court hearing was packed with supporters but was extremely brief. It merely set a drop-dead compliance date of May 28 for the prosecution to either come up with additional discovery or admit that evidence referred to in previous documents is missing or destroyed. This stipulation will underscore the prejudicial delay that has been argued since the beginning of this 39–year old case based on torture and rooted in the government’s COINTELPRO attack on the Black Panther Party.

The rally in front of the court house

Friday, April 2, 2010

Come to court Monday April 19 8:00 a.m.

Enough is enough! It's time to drop the charges on Francisco Torres and the SF8!

Attorney General Jerry Brown and the state of California have spent more than 2 million dollars to prosecute a 39-year-old case based on torture. The charges have already been dropped on 5 defendants and 2 more got probation – all because of lack of evidence. Now it's time for the case to be finished – all charges must be dropped on Francisco Torres as well.

Let's show Jerry Brown and the prosecution that we won't stop until the last charges are dropped!

For more information:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Pressure builds to dismiss charges against Francisco Torres

Francisco Torres, joined by a full courtroom of supporters, noted that it has been over three years since eight former Panthers and activists were charged with a 39-year old case. Today's court appearance (February 18) was brief as the defense continues to demand the turning over of evidence showing that various government agencies are either holding back information or have lost valuable evidence that supports Cisco's innocence.

The SF Board of Supervisors recently voted unanimously to demand that the city be reimbursed by the State of California which is prosecuting the case. To date this prosecution has cost San Francisco over $2 million.

The strong show of support in the courtroom makes clear that despite significant delays, the community continues to stand firm in the demand that the charges against Francisco Torres be dropped.

Friday, January 15, 2010

SF Supervisors call for $2M reimbursement from state

[Seeking reimbursement from the State of California for funds expended by county]

Resolution urging state and local officials to obtain reimbursement for funds expended by the City and County of San Francisco to provide legal representation in homicide case instituted by the Attorney General.

WHEREAS, in 2007, the California Attorney General filed charges against eight men --- Herman Bell, Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Henry Jones, Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom), Richard O’Neal, Harold Taylor and Francisco Torres --- involving a homicide case which occurred in 1971. Charges had been previously dismissed in 1975 against several of the accused individuals. Although the San Francisco District Attorney’s office, after reviewing the evidence in the case, declined to prosecute the case, the California Attorney General decided on its own to prosecute the case in the San Francisco courts, 26 years after the incident that gave rise to the charges; and,
WHEREAS, due to the extraordinary complex nature of the case, the length of delay in the prosecution of the matter, and the need for extensive investigation and trial preparation, the San Francisco Superior Court appointed attorneys and approved funding to pay necessary support staff and other ancillary expenses to represent seven of the eight individuals charged; the Public Defender represented one individual, but was unable to provide representation for the seven other defendants due to the state’s conflict of interest rules; the Public Defender was also assisted by an appointed attorney to assist the Deputy Public Defender assigned to the case.
WHEREAS, at the time that said funding was approved, it was anticipated by the parties, as well as the Deputy Attorney General, that the county would seek reimbursement of county funds from the State of California; and,
WHEREAS, both the Public Defender’s office and the Superior Court agreed to keep track of all expenses related to the representation provided in this case so that all necessary documentation could be provided in order to seek state reimbursement of such costs; and,
WHEREAS, in 2007, Public Defender Jeff Adachi met with former State Senator Carole Migden to ensure that state reimbursement would be sought in this case; Senator Migden agreed to seek such funding when the case was concluded; and,
WHEREAS, in 2009, the Attorney General offered plea bargains to two of the individuals charged in the case; charges against five individuals were dismissed; and,
WHEREAS, the case has now concluded against seven of the eight individuals charged; the two cases which resulted in pleas were resolved for reduced charges and no additional jail or prison time; and,
WHEREAS, the City and County of San Francisco has expended an estimated $2 million dollars in legal costs to provide legal representation in this matter to the individuals charged in this matter; and,
WHEREAS, the costs of providing the legal defense in this case has exhausted county funding for indigent defense; that in 2008, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved supplemental funding in the amount of $ 1,938,846 to cover costs related to the defense of this case;
WHEREAS, due to the city’s budget deficits, funding for the Public Defender and indigent defense has suffered as a result of the amount of the expenditures required for this case;
WHEREAS, the City and County of San Francisco is entitled to reimbursement from the State of California for the funds expended to represent the individuals charged in this case because the State Attorney General unilaterally decided to pursue charges against them, making this case a “state-mandated” expenditure; and, now, therefore be it
RESOLVED, The Board of Supervisors urges Senator Mark Leno, Senator Leland Yee and Assemblymembers Fiona Ma and Tom Ammiano to assist the Mayor’s office in seeking reimbursement for funds expended in this case by the City and County of San Francisco;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, The Board of Supervisors calls on Attorney General Jerry Brown to join the reimbursement request for the legal expenses incurred in this case.

Supervisors Mar, Campos and Mirkarimi

Thursday, January 7, 2010

More discovery, more prejudicial delay for Francisco Torres' case

In the last remaining San Francisco 8 case, that of Francisco (Cisco) Torres, the defense team revealed that the prosecution produced an additional 400 pages of discovery on New Year's Eve 2009. That discovery includes internal police memoranda which point to the existence of documents that have not yet been produced, identified, or noted to be lost or destroyed.

The additional delay provides an opportunity to discover more facts, documents, and evidence of the mishandling of evidence by the San Francisco police and the FBI, according to Cisco's attorney, Chuck Bourdon. This additional evidence will strengthen the defense argument that the case must be dismissed for unjustified prosecutorial delay which has prejudiced Cisco's right to a fair trial.