Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Desperate Measures...

(On various websites and message boards the following article has been floated as if it is something new and exciting by pro-Mumia devotees. The article is not new. It was written by disgraced attorney Eliot Grossman two years ago. At the time I responded to it and am compelled to respond again. Grossman's article is followed by my response)
-Tony

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: TONY ALLEN RECONSIDERED

by Eliot Lee Grossman, Attorney-at-Law

I was appalled by Tony Allen's recent e-mail diatribe, "Mumia Reconsidered" which a Mumia supporter forwarded to me. Allen's 180-degree transformation from MOVE supporter to home boy in the "Fry Mumia" gang's disinformation campaign, while shocking, is not altogether surprising given that Allen always appeared to be rather flaky in his vaguely leftish political views and a somewhat unstable, albeit idealistic, young man with a pronounced tendency to the fanatical. But more of that later.

The purpose of this article is to deny categorically Allen's fabrication of a conversation he claims I had with him and Pam Africa, but which never took place outside of the apparently suggestible imagination of Tony Allen. Allen claims I told them, the first time I met them, when they stayed with me during the demonstrations outside the Democratic Party convention in Los Angeles a couple of years ago, that I thought all of the "evidence" pointed to Mumia's being guilty. That is a damned lie. I never made such a statement. The preposterousness of Allen's tale should be apparent from the obvious fact that, had I ever made such a statement to Pam Africa (which I did not), she would have wasted no time in reporting it directly to Mumia and it is inconceivable that he would have, thereafter, asked me and my colleagues, Marlene Kamish, Nick Brown, and J. Michael Farrell, to take over his representation.

Moreover, there is no credible evidence which points to Mumia's being guilty, so why would I have made the statement which Allen falsely attributes to me? The only so-called "evidence" which the prosecution itself can point to are the obvious lies and fabrications which passed for evidence at Mumia's trial. Allen knows very well that this so-called "evidence" is worthless. Allen claims that five witnesses saw Mumia shoot Officer Faulkner when the trial transcript makes it very clear that only two witnesses (later shown to have perjured themselves) gave such testimony. These two witnesses, taxi driver and convicted arsonist Robert Chobert and prostitute Cynthia White, were exposed as perjurers by the declarations of private investigator Mike Newman and witness Yvette Williams, which we filed in state and federal court and are available on a number of "Free Mumia" websites.

Newman stated under penalty of perjury that Chobert had recanted his trial testimony to Newman and admitted that he did not even see the shooting. At the time of Mumia's trial, Chobert was on felony probation for having fire-bombed a school and was highly vulnerable to manipulation by the police and/or prosecutors because he was in daily violation of the conditions of his probation by unlawfully driving his taxi on a suspended driver's license. Were his probation to be revoked for that offense he faced over 20 years in state prison. Yvette Williams declared under penalty of perjury that she was in jail with Cynthia White after the Faulkner shooting where White told Williams that she (White) did not see the shooting, although she was in the area "high on drugs" and was picked up by police and bribed and intimidated into falsely identifying Mumia as the shooter. Williams observed White returning from meetings with police detectives bearing various items of contraband, including "white powder" and syringes. Even before we obtained the declarations from Newman and Williams it was apparent that Chobert's and White's trial testimony was unworthy of belief. Both of them were highly vulnerable to police pressure.

Each time Chobert and White were questioned by the police they changed their stories to more closely fit the prosecution's case against Mumia. White's testimony at Mumia's trial directly contradicted her earlier testimony at Billy Cook's trial. At Mumia's trial White testified that the only persons present at the crime scene were Officer Faulkner, Mumia and Cook. But at Cook's trial White testified that there was a passenger in Cook's car who got out of the car after it was stopped by Officer Faulkner. The prosecution deftly and cynically used this lie-by-omission at Mumia's trial to argue that only Mumia could have shot Faulkner because no one else was present who could have. We now know that Freeman not only was present, but, according to the two declarations of Cook, later admitted to Cook that he (Freeman) was involved in a plot to kill Faulkner and had participated in the shooting. The other alleged witnesses to the shooting who testified at trial, Albert Magilton and Michael Scanlon, did not identify Mumia as the person who shot Faulkner (trial transcript, 6/25/82). Allen cites the ballistics evidence to support his newly-found position that Mumia is guilty, but Allen himself knows that this so-called evidence is equally suspect. This is certainly not the first, nor is it likely to be the last case in which the police have tampered with or fabricated ballistics evidence to get a conviction.

No defense expert has ever examined the ballistics evidence in Mumia's case. The pre-trial judge refused to authorize sufficient funds for the defense to retain a ballistics expert to testify at trial. Weinglass' expert refused to examine the ballistics evidence when given an opportunity to do so. Our ballistics experts, although stating in their declarations that the ballistics evidence should be subjected to independent laboratory testing with present-day technology, were never permitted by the courts to have such testing conducted.

The Philadelphia police had more than one opportunity to tamper with the ballistics evidence. Judge Sabo ordered it taken out of the control of the Court Clerk and handed over to a police detective during the 1999 post-conviction proceedings. And it should be remembered that, when the shooting occurred, the envelope into which the medical examiner placed a bullet and bullet fragment removed from Faulkner's head wound arrived at the police ballistics lab without the bullet fragment. It is entirely possible that whoever discarded the bullet fragment also switched the bullet with another. Unless and until defense experts and an independent laboratory are permitted to examine the ballistics evidence with contemporary state-of-the-art technology, none of the prosecution's alleged ballistics evidence can be trusted.

My review of the prosecution's alleged "evidence" in the trial record when I first became involved in Mumia's case as co-author of an amicus brief submitted on behalf of noted scholar-activist Dr. Rodolfo Acuas "For Chicana/Chicano Studies Foundation" convinced me that Mumia was framed-up for a crime he did not commit. It was apparent to me, despite Anthony Jackson's deplorable travesty of a defense at Mumia's trial, that Mumia was innocent. During the pretrial proceedings Mumia repeatedly demanded a line-up. He was convinced that the prosecution's alleged witnesses, despite their vulnerability to police pressure, would have too much human decency to falsely identify him as Faulkner's killer. Who would repeatedly demand to be placed in a line-up, particularly in a capital case, if he or she were guilty? No one. But Mumia demanded a line-up. He did that because he was innocent. That's what I thought the first time I read through the trial transcript and it's what I still think today.

The prosecutor defeated Mumia's line-up motion by telling the judge that he had no witnesses who could identify Mumia as the shooter, but would instead attempt to prove his case by process of elimination, showing that no one else was present who could have done the shooting other than Mumia. After the line-up was denied, the prosecutor put Cynthia White on the witness stand at the preliminary hearing to falsely testify she saw Mumia shoot Faulkner.

Tony Allen also falsely charges me with having subjected him and Pam Africa to a "tirade" against Leonard Weinglass. Typical of his many factual errors is Allen's claim that I was a friend of Weinglass. Weinglass would be the first to deny my ever having any friendship with him. Marlene Kamish and I knew Weinglass because we hired and later fired him as Lead Trial Counsel for the retrial of Manuel Salazar after our legal team, including an attorney from the state appellant defender's office, overturned Manuel's conviction and death sentence in the Illinois Supreme Court on appeal from denial of post-conviction relief. Although Marlene and I had some serious doubts about the manner in which Weinglass was handling Mumia's case when we were still amicus counsel, it was not until after we became Mumia's attorneys and reviewed Weinglass' files that we learned of the suppression of the Beverly confession, Billy Cook's declaration, and Chobert's recantation to Mike Newman, and numerous other matters with which we then had to contend, that we and our co-counsel came to the harsher evaluation which we presented in various of our legal filings. It is neither the purpose of this article nor the responsibility of its author to respond point-by-point to every issue raised by Allen.

Anyone who might be interested in our detailed analysis of the evidence corroborating the Beverly confession will find it in a number of the documents my colleagues and I filed in state and federal court when we were Mumia's attorneys and which are posted on various "Free Mumia" websites, particularly our PCRA petition, our Pennsylvania Supreme Court appeal briefs, and our motion to certify additional issues for appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Anyone who might be interested in our analysis of Mumia's courtroom conduct, before Judge Sabo stopped Mumia from representing himself because he was doing too good a job for the "hanging judge" to permit him to continue, may review our amicus brief for the "For Chicana/Chicano Studies Foundation," also available on various Mumia websites.

There we superimpose on the transcript of Mumia's interchanges with Judge Sabo the transcript from the trial of William Penn, the founder of the State of Pennsylvania, when Penn defended himself on charges of preaching in the street after the government closed down his church. We demonstrate that, far from being disruptive, Mumia, like William Penn, was acting in a principled and proper manner in standing up for his legal rights. Author Terry Bisson was so moved by this portion of the amicus brief that he carried it over verbatim into his book about Mumia, "Ona Move."

And now, back to Mr. Allen. When I first met him in L.A. I had to intervene physically to save Allen from a sound thrashing by a beleaguered rally organizer during the first day of demonstrations outside the Democratic Party Convention. The organizer was providing security for the rally by keeping unauthorized people out of a restricted area near the speakers' platform. Allen was out of control and his increasingly provocative stream of insults directed at the organizer for barring him from the restricted area were on the verge of transforming what was already a physical confrontation into an actual fistfight. I stepped between the two of them and managed to cool the situation down by invoking my authority as attorney and explaining that Allen was Pam Africa's assistant and security person and was supposed to join her in the speaker's area.

After I successfully extracted Allen from his self-produced confrontation with one of the rally organizers (an event which could easily have precipitated nearby police officers into arresting both of them and which, in turn, could have provoked a police riot that would have disrupted the rally at which Jesse Jackson was one of the featured speakers (as did occur the next day when the LAPD raked peaceful demonstrators and legal observers with "less-than-lethal" rubber bullets that barely missed putting out a legal observer's eye) Allen persisted in throwing departing taunts at the organizer, calling him a "cop" and accusing him of "doing the cop's work for them" as I did my best to hustle Allen away.

It is interesting that Allen can come up with no better explanation for his 180-degree turn on the issue of Mumia's innocence than to trot out the same old lies that the "Justice for Faulkner" crowd continue to post on their website and his laundry list of complaints about what he allegedly went through back in the days when he was, despite his present protestations to the contrary, a loyal and sincere MOVE member. That is apparently why Allen, and/or his handlers, have invented the new lies which he attempts to put into my mouth. While it is a quite sophisticated disinformation technique for Allen to use my position as an attorney to attack Mumia (and me) by falsely attributing to me statements I never made, the technique is, frankly, too sophisticated for Allen to have come up with on his own, as are various of the decidedly un-Allen-like turns of phrase in his article and his shameful and insulting red-baiting of myself and others.

However, such tactics and turns of phrase are very much in the style of Allen's new friends, right-wing talk show host and FOP toadie Mike Smerconish who is a frequent public spokesman for the "Fry Mumia" forces, and pseudo-leftist pseudo-journalist Dave Lindorff, who, while posing as a Mumia supporter concerned with the unfairness of Mumia's trial, has produced a book whose central thesis is that Mumia is guilty of killing Officer Faulkner. Allen's brazen regurgitation of long-discredited misrepresentations of the evidence in Mumia's case suggests that, perhaps, in a moment of conscience-induced candor he is signaling that even he does not believe the lies whose circulation appears to be the price of admission into his new circle of friends. While his lending of himself to the latest disinformation campaign against Mumia is a depressing turn of events, Tony Allen should be the subject of nothing more than our pity for having succumbed to the pressures of this rightward-moving historical period and the instability and weakness in his own character. I am quite sure that Mumia is too noble to bear Mr. Allen any ill will and has only pity and compassion for him. We should have the same pity and compassion for Allen.

A Response to Eliot Grossman
by Tony Allen sept27th2002 [at] yahoo.com

“They were careless people..they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back to their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and than let other people clean up the mess they had made...” F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

I guess, at one time, it might have meant something to be attacked at such lengths by the “Mumia Movement.” I am afraid for the pro-Jamal partisans, that their time has come and gone, that the movement, suffering from the inevitable diminishing returns of a faux cause is on the road to nowhere.

I must, however, clear up a couple of issues before I can move forward onto more pressing and important business. To make it clear for everyone, I must point out that I subscribe to the following statements without reservation:

* The death penalty is, itself, a crime and, in essence, makes the bureaucracy of the state a mechanism of death. This so-called instrument of “justice” is rather a moral and very real blight on any nation that claims to be either democratic or a force for human rights. I oppose its use and implementation against any person, no matter the gravity of their crimes.

* I care very little for most of the voices and ideologues who are on the right bank of the American political scene. I am not friends with, nor have I ever met the likes of Michael Smerconish (after writing this article I was on Smerconish's show) and, although I do know Dave Lindorff, neither one of us consider ourselves to be friends. Our correspondence generally amounts to him attempting to convince me of Jamal’s innocence and me rejecting his arguments.

* I am beholden to no police or governmental agency, do not receive payment from anyone for my work, and challenge anyone to produce proof aside from my obvious disdain for murderers and their corrupt and cynical defenders, that I am under anyone’s oppressive thumb.

So now onto the fun stuff... It is funny to me that the movement to “free Mumia” sends out Grossman to be the one to rebuke my charges. Funny because Grossman, along with his cohort Marlene Kamish, managed to cause more damage to Jamal’s cause, caused more dissension within the ranks, managed to further tarnish Jamal’s already tainted image, and otherwise rain more ruin upon Jamal’s prospects for freedom than I or anyone else ever could (or would even want to for that matter).

You see, Grossman is a fraud and not just a small time con-artist, but a fraud of epic proportions, as well as a relentless and practiced liar so addicted to deceit that he can’t even tame his demons even when he has to know that his parade of nonsense is about to be rained on. Grossman would tell people that he played a central role in the case of a man named Manuel Salazar (he didn’t). He would tell people of his experience with death penalty litigation (he has none, aside from Jamal’s case, unless, of course, you count an un-used amicus brief he authored).

Grossman would tell people what a terrible attorney Leonard Weinglass was and that if only Jamal would go with him and Kamish that freedom was just a few steps away (Weinglass who was Jamal’s most successful advocate is gone, Mumia is still on death row, and the scheme-team of Grossman/Kamish is off the case, need I say more?)

And of course Grossman will deny his statement about Jamal’s guilt, but what can one expect from a man that has never met a lie (or liar in the case of Arnold Beverly) that he did not like or shamelessly wouldn’t put to use?

What should be understood is that after nearly a decade around the Jamal movement, I am in no need of fictional anecdotes in order to make my point. Grossman knows what he said, just as well as he knows that Mumia shot Faulkner, and that, after all, is my point.

I suppose that nearly everyone involved with radical politics has heard the phrase “speaking truth to power.” Noam Chomsky, back when he still made sense and had something to offer, once made the lucid observation that those in power “already know the truth.” This axiom holds true within the Jamal movement, as well.

Those “high-up” within the Jamal movement know quite well that the evidence against Jamal is solid. They know that everything points to Jamal being the only possible shooter of Faulkner. Yet, in a grotesque display of cynicism, they pretend otherwise. This gets to the point of why I think Grossman said what he did about Jamal. He wanted Pam Africa to know that he knew enough of the evidence to know that Jamal was very likely guilty and that he didn’t give a damn.

He wanted Africa, the leader of the movement to know that he was willing to do his solemn duty as a man of “the far-left” to fight to free his dread locked hero. Here was an aging Marxist attempting to do his part to turnabout the failures in Jamal’s case; this was coupled with a manipulative and deeply cynical cult member who was more than willing to exploit Grossman’s enthusiasm for ideologically driven deception.

It was a match made in the bowels of hell and one that would eventually fracture the Jamal movement. In Grossman’s statement, a defense of his use of Arnold Beverly as a witness is conspicuously absent. In its place, Grossman sends readers off to various “free mumia” websites so that they can read his various amicus briefs and other appeals. So why doesn’t Grossman bother defending his actions in regards to Beverly?

Because he cannot.

The Beverly confession has been thoroughly exposed as fraudulent and Grossman knows it, as would anyone else who would bother to independently investigate the case. Grossman does, however, bring up investigator Mike Newman who makes the claim that Robert Chobert admitted that he did not even see the shooting. Yet, during the PCRA hearings, which occurred after the Newman/Chobert conversation allegedly had happened, Chobert had this to say under oath about his 1981 testimony:

Prosecutor- Was that testimony based on your observations of what you saw on the morning of December 9th, 1981?

Chobert- Yes, it was.

Prosecutor- And was that without influence from any source, your testimony?

Chobert-. No.

Prosecutor- It was without influence or it was influenced?

Chobert-No, I told the truth that day.

And what was it that Chobert said during Jamal’s 1981 trial, what was the “truth” that he was speaking of?

The following exchange occurred as Jamal was questioning Chobert:

Mumia-...And you saw me in the back of the wagon, didn’t you?

Chobert- Yes, I did.

Mumia-What made you certain it was the same man?

Chobert-Because I saw you buddy. I saw you shoot him. (the “him” in this case is referring to Officer Faulkner).

It appears the only perjurer here is Grossman. Eliot than proceeds to further malign the deceased Cynthia White, who had testified in court back in 1981 that she had “no doubt” that Jamal was the shooter. In order to support his claim that White is a “perjurer,” Grossman offers yet another affidavit from Investigator Newman, this time from Yvette Williams, a former cell-mate of Cynthia White. Williams claims in her affidavit that White admitted to her that she had been threatened and was to be paid off by the police for her testimony. Of course, White is dead so it is impossible to say whether her testimony was in fact coerced by the police, but what is a fact is that even without White’s testimony the case against Jamal stands firm.

Grossman than, almost as an afterthought, skirts right over the testimony of Albert Magilton and Michael Scanlan dismissing them for not being able to, in his words “identify” Jamal as the shooter. So what did Magilton and Scanlan have to say about the case? Scanlan did testify in 1981 that he was not able to identify the shooter of Faulkner, but what he did say was nearly as damning for Jamal. According to Scanlan, he observed a “...black guy come running across the street towards the Officer and the guy he was hitting. Then the guy running across the street pulled out a pistol and started shooting at the Officer. He had the gun pointed at the Officer. He fired while he was running at the Officer once, and the Officer fell down. Then he stood over the Officer and fired three or four more shots point blank at the Officer on the ground.” He would go on to say that “I could see that one hit (Faulkner) in the face...because his body jerked. Scanlan testified that the shooter was about 5ft 10inches tall and weighed between 160-170 pounds and wore a black hat, dark pants, and a bright colored sweater.

The only person that Scanlan could have described was Mumia Abu-Jamal. Perhaps this is why Grossman quickly dodges Scanlan’s testimony. Albert Magilton also observed Jamal running across the street towards the scene of the crime just moments before Faulkner was shot, which corroborates the testimony of the other prosecution witnesses. None of whom, by the way, ever reported seeing the man Grossman claims shot Faulkner, Arnold Beverly, as did none of the defense witnesses.

When discussing the ballistics evidence against Jamal, Grossman scurries down the proverbial rabbit hole of make believe and conspiracy theory in order to make the case for Jamal’s innocence. It is a matter of record that Jamal was found slumped on the ground, his .38 caliber revolver sitting close to his body and out of its holster, with five spent casings housed within the weapon. It is also a matter of record that Faulkner’s killer fired five bullets. And with Jamal’s own ballistics expert testifying during the PCRA appeals that the bullet that killed Faulkner was a .38 and not a .44 as the defense had contended, there is little room for doubt as to what the ballistics evidence proves.

With regard to Jamal’s courtroom conduct, Grossman quite patronizingly would send people to “various Mumia websites” in order for them to read his “analysis” of Jamal’s courtroom antics. I would argue that it would be more instructive for people to actually go back and review the trial transcripts that are available at danielfaulkner.com and judge for themselves whether Jamal was within his rights to act in the manner that he did.

One does not need to be spoon-fed, pseudo-legal, dribble about William Penn to know whether or not Jamal got a fair shake in Sabo’s courtroom. In leaving out any and all facts that might pose a problem to his thesis and, by clinging desperately to an obvious fantasy, Grossman and those who support his “absolute innocence” theory concerning Jamal not only are toying with reality, they have also managed to all but squeeze the life out of the movement to “free Mumia.”

People like David Lindorff, whose writings are in actuality quite supportive of Jamal, are pushed aside and castigated as if they were some kind of mediaeval heretic for not properly touting the party line. Michael Moore, who wrote kind words about Jamal, but also admitted what everyone else pretty much already knows, that Mumia shot Faulkner, is hunted down by Jamal supporters and repeatedly castigated until he “apologizes” for making a factual statement.

How this helps Jamal’s cause I will never know, but to the fanatically faithful, any deviation or dissension from the party platform is cause for alarm and a special kind of hatred.

There is one aspect of Eliot’s critique of my article that he did get right. I did say in my piece that he and Weinglass were at one time “friends,” this was a mis-statement on my part and an assumption that should have never made its way into print.

That said, given the level of toxicity spewed Weinglass’s way by Grossman, I was left with the thought that such rabidity of feelings could only be spurned by a relationship gone bad. I was wrong and admit it. I wonder if Grossman is able to admit his mistakes, I doubt it.

I like how Eliot boils down my 180 degree turn on the issue of Jamal and my leaving MOVE to just being a mere issue of complaints. In actuality, I left MOVE because they murdered a man and I left the Mumia movement because it aims to free a man who also is a murderer. Like I said before about Grossman, these kind of things don’t matter to him, but they do to me.

Finally, and most assiduously, Grossman questions my motives and asserts that I have a “weakness in character.” Yet, Eliot is a shady individual and a proven fraud who does not have the ability to acknowledge integrity in others principally because he lacks courage to summon it within himself. For Grossman, an easy applause and pandering email posts filled with half-truths are good enough to sustain his withered soul. Pity indeed.

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