12/31/2003 Newsletter


  • CUAPB Special Report: Philander Jenkins Court Watch, Day 2


Yesterday was day two in the Philander Jenkins trial. We continue our daily coverage of this trial with this report:

Yesterday's hearing was yet another opportunity to watch Judge Chu's split personality in action. The morning started out with Philander's attorney, Jill Clark, asking to have her motions placed into the court record, while the jury was waiting out in the hall.

In particular, the exchange concerned whether or not the defense could present their theory that the charges against Philander were lodged to cover up police brutality. Ms. Clark rightfully pointed out that Philander has a right to make a full defense and a right to explain his own conduct.

Prosecutor Anita Jehl argued that Philander's "alleged mistreatment" is not relevant and that it would spin the trial off into a "collateral issue" when the "central issue" is whether or not Philander had drugs. She even tried to imply (again) that there was no evidence that Philander's jaw was broken by the cops (oh, puleeeze!).

Judge Chu to Ms. Clark: Is it your theory that Officer Jindra planted the gun or drugs?
Clark: There is a Blue Code across the country that if you injure someone, you'd better charge them to cover it.
Chu: You're saying the charges/evidence is fabricated?
Clark: Right.
Jehl: The court should not accept this Blue Code theory--it just isn't the evidence presented. "This is very inflammatory." "I see this spinning off into this brutality case and this is not what this case is about."
Clark: The state wants to keep it to a tiny, tiny picture. It has everything to do with this case. They charged Jenkins and left the others alone. How is that not relevant to whether this witness [Jindra] has a reason to lie? This is the story of many young Black men. The concept that there's no evidence--that's what trials are about. My client gets to tell his story. There are overlapping facts in every case. His medical claim is closely related.
Chu: I'll allow limited cross of Officer Jindra regarding the allegations. The evidence is "marginally relevant." "This will not turn into a police brutality case." You can ask Jindra about how he handled Jenkins, but nothing medical. "That's all you get to do." The issues in this case are guns and drugs. There will be no reference to the Notice of Claim. [She's referring to Philander's filing of a claim against Jindra/MPD for his broken jaw.]
Clark: His knowledge would lead him to lie. Once Jindra assaulted, he had to cover himself.
Chu: You can ask Jindra about the possibilities of discipline, civil and criminal actions, but keep your cross short and to the point.

During this whole exchange, Judge Chu had a stony face toward Ms. Clark but as soon as the jury walked in at 9:35 a.m., a smile swept across her face and she transformed into Suzy Sunshine. Her tone of voice became light and friendly.

Another interesting phenomenon to watch is Judge Chu coaching potential jurors until they give the "right answer" about whether they could be unbiased. The man who said he could he would always believe a cop's testimony is a case in point. When Ms. Clark moved to strike him for cause (because of his bias), Judge Chu said she wanted to ask him a few questions. She then proceeded to TELL him that he would have to weigh all sides equally. She then refused to strike him for bias.

Judge Chu continues her obsession with the jury's schedule. She again asked about how long the trial would take and stated, "some of these jurors are college students and we don't want to inconvenience them." Ms. Clark pointed out that her client is facing possibly 60 months of "inconvenience."

Trial continues today at 9:00 a.m. Serious evidentiary issues will be taken up first thing in the morning. We can't tell you just yet what we know about these issues but believe me, it will be HOT! If you can get to the court this morning, it will be well worth your time to see the fireworks first-hand: Hennepin County Government Center, courtroom 753.

We'll continue daily coverage with a report later about today's proceedings.

Communities United Against Police Brutality
2104 Stevens Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)

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