Historic Trial Starts October 1!
(NOTE: postponed to April 8, 2002)
BariNews Update No. 1 (posted August 23, 2001)
Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney's historic civil rights lawsuit against the FBI and Oakland Police will go to trial October 1, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken confirmed at a hearing July 27.
Judge Wilken denied all motions from both sides, including our "Motion for Justice" filed July 2. She also denied the Oakland city attorney's motion to have the case against the Oakland Police dismissed due to a technical omission from the allegations in the suit. The judge said the time to make that point was ten years ago, right after the suit was filed, and she told the plaintiffs to amend the case documents to insert the missing lines. This resulted in filing the new Eighth Amended Complaint, which is newly posted on this Judi Bari Website
FBI attorney Joe Sher had suggested delaying the trial until next January or February. But Bari-Cherney lead attorney Dennis Cunningham objected to any delay unless the judge would reinstate the case against Special Agent in Charge Richard W. Held, the COINTELPRO veteran who headed the FBI's San Francisco Field Office at the time of the May 24, 1990 car bombing which nearly killed Judi. Judge Wilken denied the delay and refused to reconsider her 1997 dismissal of Held from the case.
The trial will last six weeks, Mondays through Thursdays, from 8:30 AM to 1:30 PM. There will be a six-person jury plus two alternates. Each side will be allotted half of the total hours available for case presentation.
At a hearing on Friday, August 31, Judge Wilken will hear motions in limine from both sides to determine the scope of the case, which in turn will determine what lines of evidence are relevant, and what will be barred as irrelevant. The Plaintiffs' Corrected Motions In Limine document has been newly added to this Judi Bari Website.
On Friday, September 21, there will be a final pretrial conference.
As lead attorney Dennis Cunningham declared on the 11th anniversary of the bombing, "It's a good time to go to trial against the FBI!" The bombing case comes to trial just as the FBI faces intense national scrutiny. The upcoming trial is sure to draw national attention to continuing FBI rights abuses against activists like American Indian Movement political prisoner Leonard Peltier and many others, cases which have so far been absent from the drumbeat for reform in Washington.
The federal civil rights suit was filed over 10 years ago, but trial has been delayed by a series of aggressive defense motions followed by lengthy appeals. Dennis said approximately 30 pre-trial motions have been made since the case began.
FBI and OPD officials arrested Judi and Darryl within hours after a motion-triggered pipe bomb exploded under the driver's seat of Judi's car in 1990. After two months of false FBI and police claims to the media that they had evidence that Judi was knowingly carrying the bomb, the district attorney refused to file charges due to lack of evidence.
The case was closed, but Judi said that, based on FBI files turned over to her through the lawsuit, the FBI never made any effort to find the bomber, but instead used a phony bombing investigation as a cover for investigating nearly 650 people in the radical environmental movement whose only crime was to receive a phone call from Judi or Darryl. The bomber remains at large.
Judi died of breast cancer in 1997, but her estate and Darryl have continued to litigate the suit, seeking to clear their names and that of Earth First! from the false charges made against them and to expose the FBI's tactics against lawful political movements that threaten the status quo.
Noted historian Prof. Howard Zinn has agreed to serve as an expert witness in the case. In April, he sent a letter which has been filed with the court and placed on this Judi Bari website.
Howard Zinn wrote "It is my considered opinion, knowing of the car bomb explosion which injured Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney in 1990, and knowing of their speedy subsequent arrest on sensational criminal charges, that the apparent 'frame-up' of the two as supposed bombers as reflected in the evidence ... is consistent with the history of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That history, for many years before 1990, and continuing after that, shows that the FBI has repeatedly attempted to harass, injure, even cause the death of individuals in order to disrupt the activities of organizations critical of government and the Establishment.
"That history indicates that in the pursuit of this disruption, the FBI has again and again violated the constitutional rights of Americans, including their right to freedom of speech and freedom of association. It indicates that the FBI would have been ready, willing and able to pervert the Constitution, and their own law enforcement responsibility under it, in the ways the plaintiffs allege, in the attempt to discredit and "neutralize" a movement like Earth First! and other allied forces working to preserve and protect the environment." Click here to read the whole statement.
Please read the new motions freshly added to the Legal Documents section. For a while, you'll also find links to them on the News and Features page and the home page.
If you're in the Bay Area, don't forget to attend the Friday August 31 hearing on the motions in limine beginning at 10 a.m. in Judge Wilken's courtroom at the Oakland Federal Building, 13th and Clay Streets, Oakland, California.
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Viva Judi Bari!!!
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REDWOOD SUMMER JUSTICE PROJECT
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