The Nebraska Supreme Court has refused to explain why it rejected a claim of innocence by Mondo we Langa, former David Rice. The court simply said “overruled” on Jan. 14, denying Mondo an explanation what was wrong with his innocence plea. Mondo and co-defendant Edward Poindexter were convicted in April 1971 for the murder of an Omaha policeman after a controversial trial that sent the two Black Panther leaders to prison for life.
In September 2014, the Nebraska Supreme Court denied Mondo we Langa’s request for post-conviction relief without issuing a written decision. Timothy Ashford, Mondo’s attorney, then responded by asking for a written opinion on three key points. The issues which Mondo sought a written explanation from the court were COINTELPRO tampering with his case, the ruling by Judge James Gleason that Mondo did not make an adequate claim of innocence, and a constitutional challenge to the composition of the Nebraska Board of Pardons.
A claim of innocence is a necessary requirement for Mondo we Langa’s appeal. The Douglas County judge ruled that Mondo failed to claim actual innocence in his post-conviction appeal despite a numbered paragraph making what seems to be a pretty clear claim of innocence.
Ashford wrote: “Defendant Rice [Mondo] is entitled to a new trial because he did not commit the crime charged and he is not guilty of the crime leading to the death of Officer Minard in 1970, and further, the defendant’s presumption of innocence was lost as a result of the errors alleged herein.”
Gleason did not explain what was deficient with the pleading and now the Nebraska Supreme Court has also twice refused to elaborate. Mondo is left to guess what was wrong with his denial of guilt, a bitter irony to a prisoner that has steadfastly maintained his innocence for forty-four years.