- Jenkins Trial Update: Mistrial Declared, State Prohibited from Retrial
- FBI Swooping Down on Activists, Citing DNC/RNC Security
- Two Important Supreme Court Rulings on Your Rights
JENKINS TRIAL UPDATE: WITNESSING A RARE AND AMAZING EVENT
In a move that surprised most everyone in the courtroom, Judge Charles Porter declared a mistrial on the third day of testimony in the cafe robbery trial of Philander Jenkins and issued an order prohibiting the state from retrying him on the charges. We're told such rulings are exceedingly rare.
If you're a regular reader of this newsletter, you'll know that Philander was initially beaten up by Minneapolis police officer Jeffrey Jindra and had his jaw shattered during a house raid that occurred about five minutes after he arrived to visit friends at the house. He then spent 10 days at the Hennepin County jail WITHOUT HEALTH CARE before his mother was able to raise the bail funds to get him out. He was immediately rushed into surgery and had plates inserted to repair his badly broken jaw. Ever since that incident, police and prosecutors have tried to pile one set of baseless charges after another on him. Each time his skillful attorneys, Jill Clark and Jill Waite, have dug deep and unraveled the lies and inconsistencies at the root of these cases. Sadly, though, Philander has been stuck in jail while all of these legal travails have wound their way through the court system and he has experienced one incident after another of brutality and harassment, including being beaten and sexually assaulted at the Hennepin County jail. This young man has suffered egregious harm at the hands of the system to prevent him from getting justice for what the MPD did to him in the first place.
In this most recent trial, and true to form, "the Jills" had discovered many inconsistencies--witnesses, including the victims, identified another person who was much taller, had very dark skin (Philander is lighter skinned), and an afro (Philander had a nearly shaved head at the time of the incident) as the robber. Moreover, the robber held the gun in his left hand. Forensic experts will tell you that people hold guns in their dominant hands. Philander is right-handed. Two witnesses also noted that the robber had a "lazy eye" (drooping eyelid)--and Philander has large, almost perky eyes.
A youth testified that he saw the robber drive around the neighborhood repeatedly in a dark Mercedes. Police had stopped and questioned three men driving a dark Mercedes and these men had significant sums of money on them. Mind you, this particular police report was never provided to the defense by the prosecutor as required under the rules of discovery and ordered by the judge--the Jills happened to stumble on it on their own. Despite police stopping this car, they took only one of the three men from the car in front of the witnesses, who said he wasn't the one who robbed the cafe. No word on the identity of the other two men. Interestingly, the youth who testified about seeing the car looked up during his testimony on Monday and said, completely unprompted, that the man he saw didn't look anything like the guy sitting at the defense table (referring to Philander).
It also came out during trial that the robber initially entered the cafe, went to a drink cooler and opened it to remove a drink. He walked over to the counter, set the bottle down, and then put some change on the counter. He then grabbed the woman behind the counter, yanked her head back by her hair and held a gun to her head and forced her to go back to the drink cooler to remove a silver pitcher where the money was kept. The gun was in his left hand the entire time. When the woman struggled to open the cooler, the robber grabbed the handle and flung it open. The robber then pistol-whipped the woman's husband before leaving. The couple called police, who arrived quickly but, amazingly, never fingerprinted the cooler or other areas touched by the robber.
Instead, a few days after the robbery, police claim to have gotten ahold of the drink bottle taken by the robber. The bottle was brought into the police station in a plain brown paper bag and was never checked into the property room, meaning there was no chain of custody. It was taken to the MPD crime lab and supposedly tested for fingerprints. The bottle had four prints but, for unknown reasons, only one was supposedly identified. Police claimed that small fragment of fingerprint matched one of Philander Jenkins fingers. Also amazingly, they never photographed the print prior to covering it with tape--leading to the inescapable conclusion that the print very likely was planted there. Interestingly, while Philander was in jail awaiting trial, jail staff came by and insisted he be fingerprinted, telling him there was some kind of problem with the prints they had on file. Despite all the inconsistencies, the partial fingerprint on the bottle was the only "evidence" that linked Philander to the robbery. None of this was testified to in court, though, because Judge Porter declared the mistrial before the fingerprint expert could testify. We also never got to hear from alibi witnesses who could prove that Philander was miles from the cafe during the time of the robbery.
What led Judge Porter to declare the mistrial was testimony from Sgt. Nancy Murphy with the MPD. She testified that she went after Philander for the robbery after "reading other police reports about him" and after finding out that he had once lived a block away from the cafe. She made it sound like he had lived there recently--he had lived in that neighborhood over decade ago and the cafe didn't even exist then. But the real offense is that she talked about the other police reports. It is improper for a police officer to testify about documents in other cases and a trained, experienced police officer should know better. This was clearly meant to taint the jury. The Jills sprang to their feet and asked for a discussion in chambers. Judge Porter sent the jury to lunch.
After lunch, it came out in court that this same Sgt. Murphy had recently arrested the youth that testified about seeing the dark Mercedes circling the neighborhood, on a curfew violation, and used that as an excuse to pump him for information on what he was going to testify to when he came to court. She went so far as to show him pictures of the car, etc. Murphy was also present when the prosecution prepped the young man for his testimony in court, which was highly improper since Murphy was also scheduled as a witness. Judge Porter had previously issued a sequestration order to prevent witnesses from sharing testimony or being prepped by the prosecution in a group (which could lead to them tailoring their testimony based on what other witnesses were saying). Clearly, this was a violation of that order. It also came out in court that Sgt. Murphy had worked previously at the 4th precinct--the same precinct where Jeffrey Jindra is assigned.
Hearing all of this, Judge Porter rightly declared a mistrial, calling Sgt. Murphy's actions "unacceptable and unprecedented." He stated he couldn't show they had occurred deliberately but couldn't show they weren't deliberate, either. He also ruled the state could not prosecute again Philander on these same charges, stating "She [Murphy] should not have been present in [the young man's] preparations to testify. I'm still upset with Murphy's actions in this case."
Props to Judge Charles Porter for doing the right thing and standing up for the integrity of the courts. Shame on the county attorney's office, prosecutor Anita Jehl and the MPD for callously using the terrible pain and suffering of the victims of this horrible crime to try to nail an innocent man to cover up police brutality and corruption. It is our fervent hope that the victims will get some measure of justice by having the real perpetrators put behind bars and that there will be some action taken against the prosecution and MPD for their roles in this sordid matter.
Two Down, One to Go
Philander faces one more set of baseless charges related to a house invasion and burglary incident that occurred on August 14, 2003. However, there are ample alibi witnesses and other proof that he had nothing to do with this incident. The victim even stated that Philander wasn't there. We are hoping these charges can be dispensed with quickly and Philander can finally move on with his life.
Philander Jenkins' situation is a case study in how young African American men become ensnared in the criminal justice system, sometimes for years. He is fortunate to have two doggedly determined lawyers working on his behalf. Without them, this situation could have turned out very differently. Thanks to them, he is on the brink of getting his life back.
DEADLINE TOMORROW! FOR RESTORATIVE JUSTICE INITIATIVE 2004
Modeled after last year's Stand Down event, Hennepin County will offer ways for people to resolve outstanding traffic charges and warrants through community service during a special one-day event. However, to participate in this event, you need to register and the deadline is tomorrow (see below).
Restorative Justice Initiative 2004
Resolve Traffic Charges and Traffic Warrants By Service to the Community
September 11, 2004
Court Starts at 8:30 am; Community Service Work until 4 PM
Sabathani Community Center 310 East 38th Street, Minneapolis
The Fourth Judicial District Court has partnered with the faith community, non-profits, and neighborhood organizations to give individuals the opportunity to resolve outstanding traffic charges that occurred in Hennepin County while giving back to the community in which they live.
On September 11, 2004, participants who choose to resolve their outstanding traffic charges will be able to do community service work that same day instead of paying the traffic fines they owe. Resource people will be available to tell you how to obtain or reinstate your driver's license, get a birth certificate, etc. The goal is for residents to leave the initiative with the knowledge necessary to make positive changes in their lives, while restoring the neighborhoods they live in and fulfilling obligations to the criminal justice system.
An application process is required. Applications are available between July 19th - July 30th.
Applications are available at the locations below:
Minneapolis American Indian Center - 1530 Franklin Avenue
Franklin Safety Center - 1201 Franklin Avenue South
Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches:Division of Indian Works - 1001 East Lake Street
Hennepin County District Court:General Information Desk - 300 South Sixth Street
Hennepin County District Court: Brookdale Division 6125 Shingle Creek Parkway, Brooklyn Center
Hennepin County District Court: Southdale Division 7009 York Avenue South, Edina
Hennepin County District Court: Ridgedale Division 12601 Ridgedale Drive, Ridgedale
African American Men Project - 1313 Penn Avenue
Church of Scientology 1011 Nicollet Mall
Community Action for Suburban Hennepin (CASH) 33 10th Avenue So Ste 150, Hopkins
North Point Health and Wellness Center (Pilot City) 1315 Penn Ave No
Sabathani Community Center - 310 East 38th Street
Urban League:North Side - 2100 Plymouth Avenue
Urban League:South Side 407 East 38th St
Village Social Services - 710 West Broadway
Completed applications must be submitted to the Court Information Desk at the Hennepin County Government Center by 4:30pm on July 30th.
**A note of caution: If you have outstanding felony warrants, do not participate in this event. Last year, CUAPB president Bryce Williams, who is also a commissioner with the African American Men's Project, was one of the key planners of the event. At one meeting, the judges and police department representatives involved in the planning talked about ways to "trick" people with felony warrants into coming into a separate room in the building and then arresting them. Bryce was able to talk them out of it then but we don't know what plans are this year.
FBI SWOOPING DOWN ON ACTIVISTS CITING DNC/RNC SECURITY
The following was posted on InfoShop News and concerns FBI house raids of activists across the Midwest. To follow this breaking story, go to http://www.infoshop.org/inews/
The second piece was posted on a national police brutality listserve. It shows why no activist should EVER answer questions from the FBI.
Latest update and statement from Kansas Mutual Aid Legal Collective 7/26/04 3:30pm Central
In the last few days anarchists and dissidents in the Midwestern states of Colorado, Missouri, and Kansas have come under pressure from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local agencies.
Anarchists in Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka, Kirksville, Columbia, Denver, and St. Louis have been contacted directly, or through relatives, co-workers, neighbors, and friends by various branch offices of the FBI and asked questions about the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, as well as the Presidential Debates, and the Elections.
For the past several days, we here at KMA have gotten constant phone calls from anarchists across the Midwest informing us of various levels of intimidation, harassment, and questioning.
Today several anarchists in the region were served with a federal grand jury subpoena. During a grand jury, defendants don't have access to a lawyer while inside the courtroom. Defendants can invoke the 5th Amendment but must answer all other questions. The Grand Jury has historically been used to divide and terrorize dissidents. For more information of the Grand Jury's historically repressive role: Tikkun.org - The Grand Jury: The Modern Inquisition
If there is anyone who knows a lawyer that can practice federal law who would give advice, please contact KMA at the email address below.
Now there is an urgent need for for legal defense funds. We are asking anyone able to give anything to please do so.
The state has raised the stakes to stiffle dissent. In the coming weeks we will most likely put the call out for rallies, actions, and other public displays of support.
Although the pressure has increased, we will not back down. More than any other time, our work is necessary. More than any other time, we need your support. This isn't a joke.
Kansas Mutual Aid email@example.com
Send Legal Funds to: Kansas Mutual Aid c/o ARISE P.O. Box 442438 Lawrence, KS, 66044
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 15:32:10 -0700 (PDT)
I was one of the people who the FBI visited at my home in Denver, Co. I arrived at my home to find the FBI questioning my friends and roomates in the front yard.
Upon arrival I was grabbed by the arm then pulled from off the street onto the sidewalk where they searched my person without any cause. When I asked what this was about, an FBI agent stated that he was looking for guns. They then had me stand still while they finished harassing my friends and roomates and during this time they ran my ID and took my pocket knife. They then asked me if, and where, I worked, if I go to school, and if I owned the house I lived in or if I rented it. Then another agent came over where I informed him to leave if they didn't have a warrant at which point the agent lied and said that my roomate had said it was ok for them to stay. Obviously, he didn't.
Then I tried to get them to leave, but they insisted that I answer questions before they tell me why they were there. Figuring that they already have my ID, I answered their questions. They asked about my relationship with the Anarchist Black Cross; if I knew anyone in the group or if I had ever been in the group. He asked if they had a meeting at our house. He asked if I was planning anything illegal for the DNC, RNC, and/or election day. He asked if I knew anyone who was going out to Boston or New York. Of course I told the truth and answered NO to all his questions.
By this point they had ran my friends ID's and two of them had bench warrants for previous charges that were not related to this incident. The FBI and the two DPD (SWAT) officers then called a local DPD squad car to take the two people with bench warrants away. They were bailed out that night and released early the following morning. Both of them seem to be doing alright.
We were then informed that the house down the street was also being harrassed but that they were less aggressive at the other home in finding out information. I collected some of the agents' names who were present. One agent who refused to give his name is suspected of being neither with the FBI nor the DPD, but another government agency. They left shortly after the names were collected.
After informing all my neighbors what had just happened (they were obviously curious why 4-6 FBI agents and two DPD officers armed to the teeth were in our hood) my roomates informed me that they went into the house when they got there in order to follow persons (who lived at my house) getting their ID's, because they said that they might be getting weapons.
My roomates also said that when they came to the door they had a stack of papers and some of them had pictures on them, but neither the info nor the pictures on the papers were seen clear enough to tell what they were.
As I said both friends are out of jail. Our statements and info that we collected were given to the local ACLU and we've been in contact with others around the country who have been experiencing the same thing.
I made a mistake in giving them my ID and answering their questions and not being persistent in telling them that they were not welcome. My roomates also made the same mistake as well as the mistake of not making it loud and clear that at no point the FBI could come into our home without a warrant. By no means was their very presense on our block consentual, but we didn't make that clear enough. Please learn from our mistakes, know your rights, refuse to give ID, and refuse entrance of police and FBI to not only your home but of all your legal "property."
We are working with the ACLU who got an article in the Rocky Mountain News today (7-24-04).
If this happens to you make sure you contact the ACLU, your local Indymedia, as well as your friends and comrades who will support you.
To me this was a scare tactic. A show of force to intimidate us, and to silence us. Although dealing with the feds can be scary and intimidating don't let them get to you-don't let them scare you into not going out to the DNC and RNC and fighting for freedom.
TWO IMPORTANT SUPREME COURT RULINGS
The US Supreme Court recently issued two important rulings concerning people's rights in dealing with police. To our way of thinking, they got one ruling right and the other one very wrong. Either way, it is important to know about these rulings.
Twice -- The First Time Without Miranda -- is Usually Improper
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Police cannot extract information from suspects and only then inform them of their right to remain silent, the Supreme Court ruled Monday in outlawing an interrogation tactic often used by investigators.
In a 5-4 ruling, the court determined the two-step interrogation process ``effectively threatens to thwart'' protections against coerced confessions afforded by the familiar Miranda warning, which begins, ``You have the right to remain silent.''
Writing for the majority, Justice David H. Souter said the tactics in a Missouri case ``by any objective measure reveal a police strategy adapted to undermine the Miranda warnings.'' Souter said some such interrogations could be allowed if police could show they were not trying to circumvent Miranda.
The decision was among four involving Miranda warnings that the court decided this session, with two coming down in favor of law enforcement and the other two, including the double-interview case, going against police.
In a second decision Monday, the court sided with police in the case of a Colorado man who told an officer not to bother reading him his rights.
Stephen Saltzburg, a law professor at George Washington University, said that since the Supreme Court issued its landmark Miranda v. Arizona ruling in 1966, the justices have often stopped short of making the warnings an absolute right. They have allowed police some room for error and provided for admissibility of some evidence when warnings are not given.
``Miranda has been, since it was decided, one of those cases where the court has been schizophrenic,'' Saltzburg said. ``The court goes back and forth.''
In January, the court ruled police may not try to wrest confessions from criminal suspects already indicted without first telling them they have a right to see a lawyer. This month, the court refused to require special treatment for young people under police questioning.
The Supreme Court ruling on two-step interrogation methods arose in the case of murder suspect Patrice Seibert.
Seibert was convicted of plotting to set a 1997 fire that killed a teenager who had been staying at the family home in Rolla, Mo., a rural town in the Ozark Mountains. Police said she arranged to have her home burned to cover up the death of her 12-year-old son, who had cerebral palsy. Seibert had been worried she would be charged with neglect in her son's death.
According to the ruling, Seibert was questioned for about 40 minutes at 3 a.m. a few days after the fire without first being given her Miranda warning. At the end of the interrogation, she admitted the fire was set to cover up the death.
After a 20-minute break, police read the Miranda warning, then turned on a tape recorder and confronted her about the statements she had just made.
Seibert was convicted of second-degree murder, but she successfully appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court to have the statements suppressed in court. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld that ruling.
``The message for officers is you have to read rights first, before questioning,'' said Amy Bartholow, Seibert's public defender. ``Criminal defendants will have more rights in the interrogation room.''
Such two-stage questioning often works because suspects may be more willing to talk before they're told they have a right to remain silent. The Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Justice David H. Souter for himself and three other liberal justices, noted a growing and worrisome trend toward the technique in many national police training manuals and classes.
Still, the court left the door open for police to use some confessions obtained after double interviews. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the determining fifth justice, wrote that police could use pre-Miranda confessions only by proving the interrogation was not done ``in a calculated way to undermine the Miranda warning.''
In a dissent, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said that would make it difficult for lower courts to determine if officers had gone too far. She was joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
Future courts deciding on admissibility of such statements, she wrote, ``will be forced to conduct the kind of difficult, state-of-mind inquiry that we normally take pains to avoid.''
The second case decided Monday involved Samuel Patane. Colorado Springs, Colo. police came to his house to question him about a domestic case and told him he had a right to remain silent, but he said he already knew his rights. He then directed them to a gun in his bedroom and was charged with illegal possession of a firearm.
The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the gun could not be used as evidence against Patane because its discovery was the result of a statement made without a Miranda warning.
Thomas and two other justices said a failure to give a suspect Miranda warnings did not make such evidence inadmissible in court. O'Connor and Kennedy, while not going that far, said that the government presented a strong case for allowing evidence in the Patane case.
The cases are United States v. Patane, 02-1183, and Missouri v. Seibert, 02-1371.
Supreme Court: If a cop asks your name, you have to tell
June 21, 2004
[NOTE: Minnesota does NOT have a law on the books that requires you to give your name if a cop asks for it. The only exception is if you are pulled over for a traffic stop--in that case you're required to present your driver's license. If you are stopped on the street and questioned by police, your best bet is to ask if you are free to go and if the officer says "yes," leave at your earliest opportunity WITHOUT giving your name or answering any questions. If for some reason you choose to give your name, give your exact legal name. It is a crime to give police a false name.]
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court ruled Monday that people do not have a constitutional right to refuse to tell police their names.
The 5-4 decision frees the government to arrest and punish people who won't cooperate by revealing their identity.
The decision was a defeat for privacy rights advocates who argued that the government could use this power to force people who have done nothing wrong to submit to fingerprinting or divulge more personal information.
Police, meanwhile, had argued that identification requests are a routine part of detective work, including efforts to get information about terrorists.
The justices upheld a Nevada cattle rancher's misdemeanor conviction. He was arrested after he told a deputy that he didn't have to reveal his name or show an ID during an encounter on a rural road in 2000.
Larry "Dudley'' Hiibel was prosecuted, based on his silence and fined $250. The Nevada Supreme Court sided with police on a 4-3 vote.
Justices agreed in a unique ruling that addresses just what's in a name.
The ruling was a follow up to a 1968 decision that said police may briefly detain someone on reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing, without the stronger standard of probable cause, to get more information. Justices said that during such brief detentions, known as Terry stops after the 1968 ruling, people must answer questions about their identities.
Justices had been asked to rule that forcing someone to give police their name violated a person's Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches and the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, said that it violated neither.
"Obtaining a suspect's name in the course of a Terry stop serves important government interests,'' Kennedy wrote.
The ruling left the door open for what Kennedy said would be an unusual case in which revealing a name would be incriminating. But he said generally, disclosing an identity is "so insignificant in the scheme of things.''
Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said America is different 36 years after the Terry decision. "In a modern era, when the police get your identification, they are getting an extraordinary look at your private life.''
He said the ruling for Nevada "opens the door to what could become a routine fishing expedition among government databases,'' after police stop innocent people.
The police encounter with Hiibel happened after someone called police to report arguing between Hiibel and his daughter in a truck. An officer asked him 11 times for his identification or his name.
Over and over again Hiibel refused, at one point saying, "If you've got something, take me to jail'' and "I don't want to talk. I've done nothing. I've broken no laws.''
In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens said that Hiibel "acted well within his rights when he opted to stand mute.'' Also disagreeing with the decision were Justices David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.
Justices were told that 20 states have similar laws to the Nevada statute upheld by the high court: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
The case is Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of the state of Nevada, 03-5554.
Communities United Against Police Brutality
2104 Stevens Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)