There were no Black politicians in Alabama when the Scottsboro Boys were convicted of raping two white, female hobos near Scottsboro, Ala., in 1930. Accordingly, there were no Blacks either on the grand jury that indicted them or the petit jury that convicted them. The denial of the right to vote for Blacks in Alabama prompted the Supreme Court to reverse the second convictions in Norris v. Alabama.
Similarly, there were no more than two Black attorneys in Alabama in 1930. All of the Black law schools in the nation combined had fewer law students than the enrollment at Harvard Law School alone. Alabama had no law school for Blacks. George Lewis Ruffin was the first Black lawyer trained in a university law school. He graduated from Harvard Law School.
Most Blacks were allowed to practice law after serving an apprenticeship under a white lawyer or a preceptorship under a white judge. Some Blacks also attended night law schools. Initially, the Scottsboro Boys were represented by white, junior prosecutors. This prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the initial convictions for lack of counsel in Powell v. Alabama.
Since 1930, little has changed in the law or in politics for Blacks. Even though David N. Dinkins became the first Black mayor of New York City in 1989, his election only aggravated the fate of the Black and Latino defendants in the Central Park jogger case. Dinkins joined Mayor Edward I. Koch and Donald Trump in taking shots at the young men. Black preachers were holding prayer vigils at the hospital where Patricia Meili was receiving treatment for the rape.
When Colin Moore, Robert Burns, Joseph Mack and I stepped up the to plate to represent some of these defendants, we knew or should have known that we would be nailed to the cross. Three of us were later disbarred and Joseph Mack was suspended from the practice of law.The atmosphere in this case was reminiscent of the Supreme Court case of Dempsey v. Moore involving the 1999 rebellion in Elaine, Ark.
If a Black lawyer had gone to Scottsboro, Ala., to represent the Scottsboro Boys, he would have been lynched on the courthouse steps. If all of the Black lawyers in New York City had stepped forward in 1989,the boys in the Central Park jogger case would have never been convicted of any crime. Among Blacks, fear remains a constant factor.
Donald Trump’s money and his loose tongue made it impossible for these boys to pick an impartial jury and to receive a fair trial. He poisoned the jury pool. There is a federal bailout plan for poisoned assets. At the very least, the New York Legislature should extend the statute of limitations to allow the Central Park Six to sue the pants off of Trump.
In convicting the Central Park Six, there was a private-public partnership. New York’s judicial system, which a blue-ribbon commission found in 1991 to be “infested with racism,” must take the ultimate blame for these wrongful convictions. First, it allowed for the appointment of Justice Thomas Galligan instead of the random selection of a possible fair-minded judge.
Justice Galligan behaved like a senior prosecutor. He refused to dismiss the indictment after DNA had cleared them. These boys had been unconstitutionally seized and statements were involuntarily and unintelligently secured from them and made in the absence of lawyers. Mapp and Huntley hearings are designed to punish police excesses. Justice Galligan sanctioned a police state.
A prosecutor’s ultimate responsibility under the Code of Professional responsibility is to do justice. A prosecution should not be a shootout at the O.K. Corral. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office knew that the DNA results had exonerated these young men .It could only proceed by employing perjured testimony from expert witnesses with assistance from the trial judge.
By definition, a criminal prosecution in the United States is weighed against the accused. This country has three branches of government. In a criminal trial, the three branches of government are present. The legislature writes the laws. Judges interpret them and prosecutors enforce them. The states pay both the judges and the prosecutors. They share a common bond and have a common mission. The defense attorney and his or her client are at the mercy of state agents.
This problem was magnified in the Central Park jogger case. Judges must bow to politics and the original intent of the U.S. Constitution. When a Black male is accused of raping a white female, the rest is history. For the Black male, it becomes a nation of men and not a nation of laws.In the Central Park jogger case, it became a nation of white men and white women.
New York was replaying the lynching of Ed Johnson in Chattanooga, Tenn., in 1909, except that Johnson was lynched from a bridge and the Central Park Six were lynched in a kangaroo court. Five of them– Kharey Wise, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Kevin Richardson–were convicted in a jury trial in 1990.
With the Central Park jogger case hanging over his head, Stephen Lopez pled guilty to the robbery and assault of John McClouglin and received a sentence of one and a half to four and a half years. This case involved dragnet arrests ending in convictions also of Jermaine Robinson, Antonia Montalvo, Orlando Escober and Michael Briscoe on criminal charges in Central Park unrelated to Patricia Meili.
Councilman Charles Barron will announce his intention to introduce a resolution in the City Council on behalf of the Central Park Six demanding compensation for the wrongful convictions. April 20, 2009, will be the 20th anniversary of the culmination of the arrests in the Central Park jogger case. Councilman Barron will make his announcement on the steps of City Hall at noontime.
Compensation alone will not do justice for all of the wrongfully convicted defendants. There must be a federal civil rights investigation and a similar state investigation with the appointment of a special prosecutor. In the Duke rape case, Sen. Barack Hussein Obama demanded a federal civil rights probe of Durham District Attorney Michael Nifong for withholding exculpatory DNA results from the defendants.
Eventually, Nifong was disbarred from the practice of law, even though none of the defendants in the Duke rape case were ever wrongfully convicted and never served a day in prison. They were never required to register as sex offenders. On the other hand, Linda Fairstein is selling books hand over fist. Even Patricia Meili is exploiting this incident.
Your support and letters are needed in filing a petition for writ of certiorari in Maddox v. Prudenti et al in the U.S. Supreme Court on the questions of two-tone justice in the United States and denial of free speech for Blacks. Also, the invocation of the no-citation rule is threatening the doctrine of stare decisis. Send letters and support to Alton Maddox, 16 Court Street, Ste.1901, Brooklyn, NY 11241.
April 22: UAM Weekly Forum at Elks Plaza, 1068 Harriet Tubman (Fulton Street) near Classon Avenue in Brooklyn at 7:30 p.m. Take the “C” train to Franklin Avenue. Three blocks to Elks Plaza. Admission is free. The focus will be on the April rally on the steps of City Hall acknowledging the 20th anniversary of the “Central Park Six.” No justice! No peace!
April 25-26: UAM’s “Egypt on the Potomac” field trip to Washington, D.C., and the Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore, Md., with a major rally in D.C. on Saturday night with Alton Maddox and Drs. Leonard and Roslyn Jeffries as keynote speakers. May 22-25: UAM’s bus trip to the Gullah Festival in historic, Beaufort, S.C. July 5-August 1: Freedom Retreat for Boys and Girls for children ages 7-15 in the Catskill Mountains. Call UAM at (718) 834-9034 for further information.
See: www.reinstatealtonmaddox.net for “Tiempo v. Like It Is: Public Affairs Program,” “Post-Traumatic Slavery Disorders, Pt. I,” “Plea to Help the Central Park Six” and “Obama Administration and Secret Societies.”