A brief and problematic hearing took place [yesterday] in the case of the San Francisco 8. Most of the time was taken up with discussions in chambers in which defense attorneys for Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim objected to their clients being barred from court. Attoneys argued that both men have a right to be present at all hearings - just as Richard Brown was present due to being out on bail. In open court they made it clear that they, as representatives of their clients, could not address any matters of substance without their clients. Judge Moscone made the excuse that the smaller courtroom was less secure - Herman and Jalil have to date always been in chains and handcuffs when in court anyway. The judge agreed that future hearings would be held in the larger and more secure courtroom (sic).
The start of the preliminary hearing is likely to be put over until September 8th due to scheduling conflicts and some of the defense attorneys requesting more time to prepare. Instead there will be further motions addressed on April 21st and possibly the scheduling of some examinations later that week of prosecution witnesses that are in poor health.
The next hearing is scheduled for Monday, April 21st at 9:30 am in Department 23 - 850 Bryant Street, SF. A demonstration will be held at 8 am demanding that the charges be dropped.
California Appelate Court refused to hear Petition
The California Appelate Court refused to hear a Petition for Writ of Mandate to dismiss "conspiracy to murder" charges against three of the eight defendants in the San Francisco 8 trial. The motion argued that the Superior Court's intention to take evidence at the preliminary hearing on this count denies the men their rights "to Due Process of Law and Equal Protection of the Law in violation of the Penal Code and the California and federal constitutions." The defense is asking that the petition be decided before the preliminary hearing. Attorneys will file the Petition with the California Supreme Court because of the refusal of the Appelate Court.
Conspiracy charges were dropped against five of the eight defendants February 7th in the San Francisco 8 case because the statute of limitations on conspiracy is three years in California.
Judge Philip Moscone originally denied defense motions to dismiss the conspiracy count against the three remaining San Francisco 8 defendants - Herman Bell, Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom), and Francisco Torres - on February 28.
The reason the three were not able to benefit from the statute of limitations expiring in three years is because for "out-of-state" defendants the statute of limitations is tolled (held in abeyance) for the period they were "unavailable."
Simply because the men were not in California is not enough reason to deny them their rights, the Petition argues. They were all in custody and their whereabouts have been known to local, state, and federal prosecutors. "Involuntarily removed by law enforcement," they were readily available to return to California to face charges had they been brought.
The prosecution claims that because the three men were not in California the statute of limitations does not apply. "This is a ridiculous argument," according to defense attorney Stuart Hanlon, "as these men were forcefully removed from the state against their will by being imprisoned. All three were consistently available to California State prosecutors."
For more info on the SF8, see www.freethesf8.org.