Law and Disorder Radio – Police Entrapment of the NATO 3 – Lawyers You’ll Like: Anne O’Berry – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

Law and Disorder Radio

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Grant of Review in the Supreme Court on ACLU Warrantless Wiretapping Case

CCR Bradley Manning Case Update

Palestinian Prisoner Hunger Strike Update

 

 

Police Entrapment of the NATO 3

Last week, as many listeners may know, more than 100 protesters were arrested at the NATO summit in Chicago. Five activists were charged with terror-related crimes, two were accused of attempted possession of explosives, 3 were accused of conspiracy to commit terrorism, material support for terrorism and possession of explosives. Sarah Gelsomino with the People’s Law Office says three of these activists were set up by government informants who had planted the explosives.

 

Attorney Sarah Gelsomino:

  • The National Lawyers Guild of Chicago learned that at 11:30 at night, a home in the Bridgeport area of Chicago had been raided by the Chicago Police Department.
  • People were concerned because several people had gone missing, and we couldn’t find them.
  • This raid was completely unprofessional from the beginning.
  • Three other apartment units were just neighbors. Police removed them from their apartment, detained them, interrogated them, and then without consent or a warrant, went in and searched their home.
  • The city refused to acknowledge that they had our clients in custody, that they had any arrests, and also refused to acknowledge that that had a raid in that neighborhood.
  • Over the next day or so, 6 of the 9 were released without any charges, after being held for over 30 hours, a good part of that time shackled and handcuffed to a wall.
  • There are two additional people who were also arrested, and those are the two people who haven’t been seen since they were arrested in the raid and who we now believe were working for the police department as a part of this investigation.
  • We believe they infiltrated Occupy Chicago a month ago.
  • As a criminal defense attorney, we have a duty to vigorously defend our clients.
  • Members of Occupy Chicago have been coming forward very concerned about the two people who had been working for the police department – passing information to the police department.
  • The state’s case will never be as strong as it is right now, when they have not yet come forward with any evidence whatsoever; all they’ve made is allegations that have yet to be substantiated.
  • People are very afraid, particularly people in the Occupy movement because they now feel so violated.
  • It is an alarming pattern that states are turning to terrorism charges in these types of cases.

Guest – Sarah Gelsomino joined the People’s Law Office in the fall of 2008. She concentrates her practice on police misconduct, wrongful conviction, representation of political activists and criminal defense cases. During law school, Sarah clerked with the Cook County Public Defenders’ Office and was the recipient of various awards, including the Sonnenschein Scholar Award, which funded Sarah’s pro bono public interest work. She is a current board member of the Chicago chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and is the co-founder of the NLG Chicago Next Gen Committee. Sarah also sits on the Advisory Board of the Irwin W. Steans Center for Community-Based Service Learning at DePaul University.

 Lawyers You’ll Like: Anne O’Berry

As part of our Lawyers You’ll Like series, we’re joined by attorney Anne O’Berry. She’s the Vice President of the Southern Region of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of “The Law Only As an Enemy: The Legitimization of Racial Powerlessness Through the Colonial and Antebellum Criminal Laws of Virginia.” While in law school, she served as Director of the Women in Prison Project at Rikers Island, where she taught incarcerated women how to prevent termination of their parental rights.

Anne clerked for federal judges in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, with whom she co-authored an article on the law as a tool of oppression against slaves and free blacks in pre-Civil War Virginia. She taught civil rights and South African apartheid law at the University of Pennsylvania. She later taught Race and the Law at St. Thomas University Law School in Miami, Florida.

In the last 12 years, Anne has served as counsel at a Florida law firm that specializes in class action litigation, particularly in the areas of securities, consumer and economic fraud, as well as some environmental and privacy rights litigation.

Attorney Anne O’Berry:

  • We did a lot of historical research in terms of racism and the law back in pre-Civil War Virginia.
  • We focused on Virginia because it was a paradigm for slavery in terms of the slave laws that were in place.
  • We wrote an article for publication; it was published in the University of North Carolina law review. “The Law Only As An Enemy: The Legitimization of Racial Powerlessness Through the Colonial and Antebellum Criminal Laws of Virginia.”
  • Depending on your status, if you were a free white person or a slave, you were treated differently by the law.
  • As an overall theme, the race of the victim would affect what your sentence would be.
  • For example, if a black woman was raped, that was not considered a crime. If you were a black person and you stole something, you would be put to death.
  • It was ironic for the slave owner because if their slave was put to death, they would have to be compensated by the state.
  • If the victim was black, the crime was treated less seriously than if the victim was white.
  • I started out working at a firm in New York, a large, prominent, Wall Street-type firm.
  • Among some people I was known as the pro-bono queen.
  • I was there for two and a half years and the first pro-bono case was a death penalty case.
  • The court ruled back then (1990s) that it was okay to execute the mentally disabled.
  • I was so moved by that experience that I gave up my cushy job in New York and went to go do death penalty work full time.
  • I ended up at the Federal Resource Center doing death penalty work in Tallahassee, Florida.
  • I worked for the Battered Women’s Clemency Project in Florida.
  • More recently the Supreme Court did rule that it is unconstitutional to execute people who were juveniles at the time of the offense and unconstitutional to execute people who are mentally disabled.
  • I believe in my lifetime we will see the end of the death penalty in this country.
  • It’s just an amazing system that we have where the courts will say, yes, you’ve got compelling evidence of innocence but we’re not going to hear your case.
  • I would say what got me through was the victories.
  • Presently, I’m working with an attorney, Jim Green, who’s a prominent civil rights attorney in West Palm Beach, kind of a legend down here.
  • I also some volunteer work with El Sol. It’s a day laborer center in Jupiter, Florida.

Guest – Anne O’Berry, National Lawyers Guild Regional Vice President for the Southern Region and a member of the Guild’s South Florida chapter. She obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983 and her law degree from New York University Law School in 1986. While in law school, she served as director of the Women in Prison Project at Rikers Island, where she taught incarcerated women how to prevent termination of their parental rights. She was a member of the law school’s civil rights clinic and an editor on one of the law school’s journals, and authored a law review article on prisoners’ rights. During and after law school, she clerked for federal judges in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, with whom she co-authored an article on the law as a tool of oppression against slaves and free blacks in pre-Civil War Virginia. She has taught civil rights and South African apartheid law at the University of Pennsylvania and Race and the Law at St. Thomas University Law School in Miami, Florida.