Almost everyone likes to blame their lawyer if things don’t go their way. However a lawyer is never supposed to disobey a judge, and if a lawyer objects too much it can irritate a judge which could harm their client’s case. A very few like Lynne Stewart do defy the judge and pay the price. She is still facing a long jail term.
Tony Jackson, Mumia Abu Jamal’s lawyer, was only doing what almost every other lawyer would have done, he obeyed a judge’s order, when the judge made it clear Jackson would get extended jail time is he didn’t comply. Mumia relentlessly condemned Jackson for refusing his demand that he quit. Again it wasn’t Jackson’s assigned job to respond to insults or character or detail misstatements hurled at him by Mumia supporters and most lawyers would have also tried to ignore what his client hurled at his lawyer as long as it was verbal not physical.
Lynne Stewart is sick with cancer, and frequently appearing in court and meeting with supporters is very exhausting for her. One lawyer spoke out when he knew his client who had just died (not the man on death row) committed the murder, and after a number of appeal procedures the court agreed he had a right to do so. Another lawyer spoke out when his client who was guilty had died and a man serving a life sentence was innocent, and the court ruled he shouldn’t have violated attorney client privileges, and he was disbarred.
It’s strange, lawyers don’t defend each other the way teachers and truck drivers do. Anthony Jackson (then) Esq. couldn’t even sue the judge when the trial was over for violating his rights without possibly hastening Mumia’s death sentence since the first appeal’s lawyer, as was custom, tried to blame Tony Jackson for Mumia’s conviction.
Now incredibly over 25 years later J. Patrick O’Connor is again blaming my friend, and then lawyer, Tony Jackson, who I now I feel I betrayed, by me not publicly coming to his defense instead of trying to privately offering my condolences, which I was unable to do, because he was hiding from angry Mumia supporters who were joining Mumia in putting most of the blame on him. When he was disbarred, for illegally using prescription pain killers some Mumia supporters said “See he was debarred, that proves he was a bad lawyer”. Freed from being a lawyer, somehow he still couldn’t sue Judge Sabo and the Court System for violating his right’s, nor Mumia supporters for illegal harassment.
In my mind I look at myself as one of the drivers in, I think Texas, who swerved around an injured man lying in the street instead of stopping to help him.
Lawyers Unite! Throw Off Your Chains, Defend Tony’s Reputation and Defend Linn Steward, You Are Dammed If You Cooperate With a Ridiculous Demand From a Judge and Dammed if You Don’t!
The enclosed article has much more details then this cover letter.
When a Lawyer Became Everyone’s Scapegoat
Lawyers Can at Times be Victims and not Just the Clients They Serve
An unreported (or vastly underreported) victim in the Mumia abu-Jamal saga, that still isn’t being told (even though Mumia is off of death row) is the total destruction of his first lawyers legal career, and the extreme disruption of that lawyer’s personal life. Many watched, but none of his friends publicly came out in his defense.
Tony Jackson was condemned by Mumia for not resigning, like Mumia demanded and Tony was threaten by the judge into twice returning to Mumia’s defense, then accused by Mumia’s first appeals lawyer as being responsible for the conviction. Like a good soldier he tried to pretend he was responsible so as not to hasten Mumia’s execution.
Try to imagine, someone going around abusing you and it’s your job to try not to notice (even to agree with the abusers that you did wrong). Sometimes being a lawyer is anything other than fun. Sometimes employees, or a wife, think it’s their role to accept the blame, but with lawyers taking the blame is so institutionalized that after Tony was disbarred, no one even expected him to sue the Judge and Court for enslaving him. Recently Pam Africa, a computer literate member of Move which frowns on technology, urged the latest writer on Mumia, J. Patrick O’Connor , to realize that Jackson was a victim too, but O’Connor went on to blame Tony anyway.
Anthony E. Jackson once had a reputation as a fighting lawyer, similar to Perry Mason. He loved to object and object, and he also was radical, out for the underdog and the helpless. Everything about the Mumia trial destroyed his image, and his life became discombobulated. In the end he was disbarred for abusing pain killers and some Mumia supporters bragged that being disbarred was proof that he was incompetent lawyer.
He had no prior death penalty cases which was a real handicap. But J. Whyatt Montensire of the NAACP and others thought Tony’s fighting spirit would fit well with Mumia’s. I even have a friend John, a retired courier, who frequently delivered packages to the Jackson’s law office, and feels he created the whole mess by suggesting Tony be Mumia’s lawyer.
The trial was a mess, some important documents Mumia kept in his cell, others Jackson had. Mumia demanded that he quit, which he did. Judge Sabo threatened him with extended prison time if he didn’t go back to defending Mumia which happened twice. For a short part of the trial Jackson was going through the motions that Judge Sabo told him to, and nothing else, since Mumia kept telling him not to.
Mumia’s first appeals lawyer wanted to put the blame on Tony, and the more Tony could force himself to agree that he was incompetent, the more it might help Mumia. Doing this was, I am sure, painful for Jackson, and it was ruining his career. Tony was being blamed from almost every direction. Billy, Mumia’s brother, in his 2001 affidavit claimed Jackson spent hours (the grapevine said all night) at Mumia’s mother’s apartment talking to Billy and his mother without asking Billy to testify.
Now the latest book by J. Patrick O’Connor, “The Framing of Mumia abu-Jamal” admonished Jackson for not grilling the two prosecution witnesses (whose testimony significantly differed in Billy’s trial for assaulting an officer). Mumia’s brother was convicted of punching an officer and given a suspended sentence. A suspended sentence for punishing a cop neither side wants to explain.
O’Connor called the chapter “The framing of Billy”, totally left out that the punishment, for supposedly punching a cop, was a suspended sentence. The police grilled Billy for two days threatening to also charge him with murder unless he signed their statement. The fact that Billy’s conviction was suspended had to mean Billy cooperated to some extent.
My guess is that Billy was responsible for the first shot, which would explain Mumia claiming to not see anything. If not, then there had to be an implied, or even stated, agreement between Billy, Mumia and the prosecutor that Billy would not be also charged with murder if Mumia and Billy would not talk about a certain detail. So now Jackson gets admonished for whatever was going on as not doing his job. This accusation, at this late date if Tony is paying attention, really rubs it in.
Put yourself in Tony’s shoes trying to defend a client who hates you and wants you to quit, while the prosecutor worked out a deal with Mumia not to prosecute Mumia’s brother in exchange for Mumia not bringing up certain details during his trial. I am not asserting that any words had to be directly exchange between Mumia and any prosecutor for the understanding by both to leave Billy out of the mix
Quite a few people are in jail because they won’t talk about someone else. Prosecutors and the police sometimes seem to enjoy pretending they believe a tainted witness committed the crime to make them talk. In the entire society, the herd mentality is not far away where punishing one member of a family, gang family, or race will suffice if you don’t know or don’t care to know who did it.
There are several cases where relatives, friends and or cooperating witnesses were involved in a saga, and the court refused to allow new information, calling the new information to “incredible”. A Texas case where a lawyer for a now dead client said his client was guilty and the brother on death row had no knowledge of the murder, the Supreme Court didn’t stay the execution. In a Pennsylvania case either Kevin, or Ronald Brinkley, seemed to be involved in a murder. The prosecutor chose Kevin since Ronald at 14 was too young to be tried as an adult. But after Ronald became 21 and thus was out of the juvenile punishment system, he was begging to be charged with the crime, and new witnesses came forward and agreed. Pam Africa (of Move) tying the two cases together, and watching Ronald continuing to confess, without getting in any trouble, might encourage Mumia’s brother Billy to be more talkative, if he finds out about Ronald. Perhaps some new organization could be formed tying in not only Mumia and Kevin Brinkley but the other cases where new evidence was ruled to be incredible because it was convoluted evidence instead of a new person being accused from out of the clear blue, being charged with the crime.
I suspect that in a hypothetical case where one man was convicted of kidnapping, rape and murder and another just of kidnapping, and DNA from under the edge of a being torn down building proved the convicted killer fled the scene long before the murder. And urinated where he said he did, DNA evidence might suddenly be deemed incredible as well.
Lawyers have it rough. If they act like Perry Mason on TV they make judges and prosecutors mad, who punish the defendant more because they are mad at the lawyer, or even more frequently any future clients of the lawyer. If they become good friends with the judge and prosecutor, fantastic deals can often be arraigned usually without any improper words between the judge, prosecutor and lawyers. But if they failed the client, it becomes the lawyer’s fault to an astute client, since his lawyer didn’t object in several different important places where he could have, limited the appeal issues.
Early Move used to consider defense lawyers the most evil part of the perverted system, for covering up the fact it was all a joke. They fought with their lawyers until my landlord Kalvin Kahn was assigned to a Move case. But in follow up cases he sparred with Move clients as well. Kalvin was both a gentle and a fighting lawyer and I badly needed one. And I pushed so hard that I got Kalvin as a landlord instead.
I was arrested in the 1978 police sweep following the Move eviction. I felt I was a hero and that I should have been given a medal not a suspended sentence. Actually the real hero was Wallis Mohammad of the Black Muslims. He came with several followers and yelled “Get your woman and children off the street”. The childrens’ bicycles were quickly removed even though some of the little Black kids as young as 6 or 7 kept returning without their bicycles. Removing the bicycles before the police on horseback charged made all the difference. That a few more kids would have been on the street except for my presence and that of the other Quakers was irrelevant.
Tony my lawyer said I had too choices, either, accept the suspended sentence, or else demand a jury trial and never, never give in and agree to a judge trial. But my Aunt Stasia’s endless trips from Washington DC to be a character witness only to have the trial hearing postponed took its toll. When I got Innis, as my lawyer, I agreed to receive a suspended sentence again, but when we went to court Innis said, “That judge was unavailable, but Debona was good too”. My aunt said, “Listen to your lawyer”. And I felt overwhelmed and depressed and stopped fighting it. Judge Debona was Judge Sabo’s cousin. I didn’t know the details but knew all the nice-nice Innis was giving the Judge Debona wasn’t reaching Debona at all. When the judge said “6 to 23 months for obstructing justice”, Innis turned to my brother and said “What Happened”. My brother got together with new photos, and with a lot of headlines, I was released by a new judge after serving one more week.
Tony Jackson was a fighting lawyer, the kind of lawyer who isn’t considered a good lawyer because judges and prosecution lawyers give a few cases to gentle lawyers, like Innis, or Kairys and Rudovsky to make the trouble-makers look less competent. The gentler lawyers love huge money damages from the state rather than getting prosecutors or judges or accusing witnesses in trouble for incompetence or worse.
It’s called “justice” and “trial by jury”, but is really a giant plea-bargaining dancing and bluffing game. Some people get badly hurt for very little reason. I only know this because of the original Move’s efforts to prove that civilization was a cruel joke, something that the now watered down Move, and more tamed Move, might not even understand what I am talking about. To the many of us (who in our own way) try to make this rough world a little nicer, let’s add trying to do something about Tony’s plight, and the scapegoating and example making of lawyers, in general including Linn Steward, to what needs to be changed. If anyone came to Tony’s defense right away, it would rune his role of being Mumia’s unwanted advocate. But Mumia is off of death row and the reasons for particularly other lawyers to keep ignoring what happened makes less and less sense. Doctors and teachers tend to defend each other. When a lawyer with clandestine information dies unexpectedly other lawyer’s might help pay for a private investigator. The minute Mumia was off of death row they could have rushed to defend Tony.
Somewhat similer saga,
Excellent layout to Mumia’s and his brother’s affidavits concerning his arrest,
Richard Kane RichardKanePA