Black People : Court: Panelist secretly blocked ex-Panther's parole

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by jamesfrmphilly, Sep 2, 2011.

  1. jamesfrmphilly

    jamesfrmphilly going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    ATLANTA (AP) -- A former Black Panther convicted of murdering a California park ranger is getting another shot at freedom after a federal appeals court found that a parole official improperly worked to keep him behind bars by secretly handing over information to Justice Department officials.

    The Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision last week found that then-U.S. Parole Commissioner Deborah Spagnoli "impermissibly tainted" the board's decision to delay Veronza Bowers' release when she wrote a memo to government attorneys about the case. Her actions, the three-judge panel said, violated the commission's mandate as an independent arbiter.

    Spagnoli, who resigned from the commission in 2007, said Thursday she was unaware of the ruling and refused to discuss the case.

    The panel's decision stopped short of releasing Bowers, who was convicted of the 1973 killing of Kenneth Patrick at Point Reyes National Seashore in California. But the court ordered a new hearing to determine if Bowers could be released, noting that corrections officials have called him a "model prisoner."
    Bowers was sentenced to life in prison in April 1974 and at the time was eligible for parole after 30 years. The U.S. Parole Commission held a hearing on his case in December 2004, when an examiner found that Bowers was not likely to commit future crimes and had "been an outstanding inmate" for the previous 15 years. The panel decided to grant him mandatory parole in February 2005.

    But days before he was to be released, a commission staff member organized a new hearing that included Patrick's widow, Tomie Patrick Lee. The panel met again in May and deadlocked in a 2-2 vote on whether to release Bowers, which by law should have allowed him to leave prison.

    That's when Spagnoli sent the memo to the office of then-U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who made the unprecedented decision to intervene, the ruling said. The memo, which wasn't discovered until 2007, outlined arguments for an appeal that could be used by government attorneys if Bowers was granted parole, the opinion said. Gonzales asked the commission in June 2005 to review its decision, and days later the panel voted to temporarily delay Bowers' release. Commissioners went a step further in October 2005, voting 4-0 to keep Bowers in prison indefinitely, citing a failed escape attempt he launched with another inmate in 1979 and fears he could commit another crime.

    After the decision, the court said, Spagnoli sent a one-word email to a Justice Department attorney: "Victory."

    http://www.thegrio.com/news/court-panelist-secretly-blocked-convicts-parole.php
     
  2. OldSoul

    OldSoul Permanent Black Man PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Thank you for posting this, jamesfrmphilly. It demonstrates what we mean when we say COINTELPRO still exists. It's individuals within the system, doing blatantly illegal and unethical actions that are covered up and when exposed, are not punished, that hurt us in many ways, especially when our Brothers and Sisters choose not to believe its happening.
     
  3. Shikamaru

    Shikamaru Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Did he really do it ...
    ... or did the DOJ do another jobby on him similar to Geranimo Ji Jaga?
     
  4. OldSoul

    OldSoul Permanent Black Man PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Some background...

    Veronza was convicted in the murder of a U.S. Park Ranger on the word of two government informers, both of whom received reduced sentences for other crimes by the Federal prosecutor's office. There were no eye-witnesses and no evidence independent of these informants to link him to the crime. At his trial, Veronza offered alibi testimony which was not credited by the jury. Nor was testimony of two relatives of the informants who insisted that they were lying. The informants had all charges against them in this case dropped and one was given $10,000 by the government according to the prosecutor's post-sentencing report. Veronza has consistently proclaimed his innocence of the crime he never committed — even at the expense of having his appeals for parole denied — for which an admission of guilt and contrition is virtually required — he insists on maintaining his innocence.

    The Black Panther Party was targeted by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI in its infamous Cointelpro Operation which, during its years of operation from 1956 to 1971, surveilled, infiltrated, manipulated and tried to provoke criminal activities by entirely lawful civil rights and peace demonstrators exercising their First Amendment rights to oppose government policies. Hoover referred to the BPP as "the greatest threat to the internal security of this country" and authorized surveillance of many black and antiwar leaders including Martin Luther King.

    June 21, 2005, was the day Veronza Bowers was to be released from federal prison on mandatory parole after more than 31 years of incarceration. This date was based on a vote of the five-member U.S. Parole Commission in Washington, D.C., the highest governing body in our nation's parole system. At the very last moment, Veronza's release was cancelled.

    This action was based on a petition filed by U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales requesting that the National Appeals Board "reconsider" their decision granting him parole. The USPC has, thereby, "retarded" Veronza's release "for a period not to exceed 60 days". This order for reconsideration by the Attorney General was made at the behest of a law enforcement group called the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). Our legal team strongly feels that this unprecedented action on the part of the USPC is totally illegal and based on no credible evidence whatsoever. It violates the Commission's own guidelines and procedural regulations. The rule of law that should guide the Commission in this case has clearly been undermined by political pressure exerted at the highest levels of the current administration.

    The truth of the matter is that Veronza has served his full sentence under law plus 16 months of illegal detention. He has been a model prisoner with the highest possible Bureau of Prison rating and recommended for parole several times, only to have his release rescinded, literally, at the last minute.
     
  5. jamesfrmphilly

    jamesfrmphilly going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    it is wrong to ask the people to obey the law when the po po don't obey the law themselves……….
     
  6. Shikamaru

    Shikamaru Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    That's called the rule of men ....

    ... in contradistinction to the rule of law.

    Do as I say, not as I do.

    This isn't the police in this case, but it is executive officials.
     
  7. jamesfrmphilly

    jamesfrmphilly going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    they are all a part of the prison-industrial complex to me……….
     
  8. Shikamaru

    Shikamaru Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    True, but precision has its place. In this case, it is the US Parole Commissioner and the parole board.
     
  9. chuck

    chuck Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Some things we forgot: Some things they remember...
     
  10. chuck

    chuck Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    The agenda: No new Malcolms or George Jacksons shall rise in their midst...FYI...
     
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