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"Blood In, Blood Out": Prosecution Opens in Aryan Brotherhood Trial

How many of you would guess, without more information or having read the title of this post, that these four men are now on trial for their lives?

Four leaders of a highly organized white supremacist prison gang went on trial Tuesday on charges they orchestrated the slayings or attempted slayings of more than 30 inmates during three decades of violence at some of the nation's toughest penitentiaries.

Forty members of the Aryan Brotherhood are charged with gang activity at six federal prisons stretching from California to Illinois and four California state prisons. Sixteen of the defendants could face the death penalty in one of the largest capital punishment cases ever filed in U.S. history.

The public's revulsion of these men may or may not be justified, as the evidence at trial will dictate. But it is exactly cases like these that compel us to acknowledge that everyone is entitled to the best defense possible and to the presumption of innocence, and that if these rights are not accorded to those we consider the lowest among us, they may not be there for us or our loved ones when we need them.

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    Far too many people fail to comprehend and appreciate what our rights mean for all of us. These people repeatedly fall for the false dichotomy that we can either protect our rights or we can have safety (or some other concern), but we can't have both. Any ceding of our rights leads us down a gradual, but slippery, slope that ultimately leads to authoritarian government. For the benefit of us all we must strengthen, not weaken, our rights.

    I wish I could say I was surprised, but I'd be lying. You don't and won't hear much of a peep out of the timothy mcveigh wing of the republican party types around here because they're fighting for the rights of the so-called oppressed majority and the primacy of their twisted view of Christianity. Nah, it doesn't surprise me at all.

    Re: "Blood In, Blood Out": Prosecution Opens in Ar (none / 0) (#3)
    by wg on Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 06:06:11 AM EST
    From the story a picture of the courtroom: They [the defendants] were surrounded by federal marshals and chained to the floor with leg irons obscured from the jury by a high panel. So we continue in this barbaric behavior, chaining US citizens even when they try to defend themselves in the court of law. This, as plainly evident to anyone now but US judges, is in direct contravention of UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners which expressly prohibit the use of restraints on prisoners when appearing before a judicial authority. What is interesting here is that people responsible for implementing this barbaric practice seem to finally recognize that their conduct is wrong and go to great lengths to hide it. Note that "obscured from the jury by a high panel" bit. So as long as when observed from outside it appears they are not chained everything if fine. Perception of complying with international norms instead of complying. Nice going.

    So we continue in this barbaric behavior, chaining US citizens even when they try to defend themselves in the court of law.
    I agree with you that chaining a defendant in a trial can be highly prejudicial, but on the other hand, we are talking about (alleged) members of the Aryan Brotherhood here. This is a perfect example of a real dilemma as far as balancing security measures between insuring that the men aren't unfairly portrayed in front of the jury. I wouldn't want to sit next to any of those guys, "grandpa" looks aside. I spent five years working with the Federal Public Defender's office in Seattle, Washington and worked on several cases that involved AB members. We are talking about an extremely violent bunch here. I'm no huge fan of over-zealous police methods or prosecutorial courtroom tactics purposely designed to influence a jury, but what would you do in a case like this?

    Re: "Blood In, Blood Out": Prosecution Opens in Ar (none / 0) (#5)
    by wg on Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 06:32:52 AM EST
    Put them in a glass encoded defendant box if they are really that dangerous. Even bars (Egyptian practice if I recall correctly) would be better.

    Re: "Blood In, Blood Out": Prosecution Opens in Ar (none / 0) (#6)
    by wg on Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 06:34:17 AM EST
    enclosed

    How many of you would guess, without more information or having read the title of this post, that these four men are now on trial for their lives? How many of us would have guessed, even after reading the title of this post ("Blood In, Blood Out": Prosecution Opens in Aryan Brotherhood Trial"), that these four men are on trial for their lives? And what difference does it make when the story linked to clearly states in the first paragraph that these men are on trial for murder (a usual tipoff that the death penalty may be at stake) and the second paragraph point-blank states "Sixteen of the defendants could face the death penalty in one of the largest capital punishment cases ever filed in U.S. history." Is the complaint here that the fact that these men face the death penalty should have been stated in the headline "Prosecutor Details Start of Aryan Gang War"? If so, why? What purpose would be served by this that is not served within the text of the article? It must be a very slow news day in Colorado if this is worth mentioning as some sort of injustice. But it is exactly cases like these that compel us to acknowledge that everyone is entitled to the best defense possible and to the presumption of innocence, and that if these rights are not accorded to those we consider the lowest among us, they may not be there for us or our loved ones when we need them. Agreed, one-hundred percent, but what right is it that you are alleging has not been accorded to these men, TL? The story you link to states that the prosecutor has detailed the start of an Aryan gang war. How has this violated the rights of the defendants? Is there something in the presumption of innocence which makes it wrong for the prosecution to state the allegations against the defendants? If so, how exactly does the prosecutor make a case? Please explain. They were surrounded by federal marshals and chained to the floor with leg irons obscured from the jury by a high panel. This does raise issues, of course, but it can't be one of sending any messages to the jury if the jury can't see the chains. I do wonder just how violent these men are if this, in addition to their being surrounded by armed guards, is considered necessary. But then I don't know these men or what they are capable of. I suppose the chains might be an attempt to make sure that they would be unable to escape in the middle of some sort of attack on the court, when the guards might be distracted, but that would be purely a guess.

    Look after Matt Hale's string-pulling act that got Ricky Byrdsong and a few other Blacks in the Chicago Area randomly killed a few years back by one of his followers. After his death threats against Judge Joan Lefkow that led only to lunatic remarks by the likes of delay, frist and cornyn which, in turn, evidently, led to SDO'Connor suddenly seeing cause for concern, the fact is that these white supremacist nitwits have people on the outside and are not above making death threats against friends and family and acting on those threats at the drop of a hat. You've got to be careful with Court and Law Enforcement Personnel and their families while considering the rights of the accused. They're not gonna die by being shackled and guarded in confinement.

    Re: "Blood In, Blood Out": Prosecution Opens in Ar (none / 0) (#10)
    by Patrick on Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 09:51:01 AM EST
    The AB is a prison gang. Undoubtedly some of the defendants are currently serving prison sentences for other crimes and as such have given up the right to appear out of custody for the purposes of the trial. I'm OK with glass enclosures or physical restraints, but what is the difference? Restrained is restrained. Leg and belly cuffs are not forms of punishment, nor are they unduly harsh IMO. T-Chris (and others) would have a field day at the expense of law enforcement if there was some perceived lack of security which allowed something to happen in this courtroom like happend in Atlanta. Sometimes the ideas expressed in here, are so confounding it's laughable.

    Re: "Blood In, Blood Out": Prosecution Opens in Ar (none / 0) (#11)
    by Patrick on Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 09:53:08 AM EST
    These are people who sanctioned murders (plural) while in custody for other crimes. It's also proof in my book that the death penaly protects others from harm, including the "Lowest among us" by which I assume TL means her clients who were convicted.

    Posted by Patrick March 15, 2006 10:53 AM
    These are people who sanctioned murders (plural) while in custody for other crimes. It's also proof in my book that the death penaly protects others from harm, including the "Lowest among us" by which I assume TL means her clients who were convicted.
    Clearly, you'd do well not to assume anything given your skills and capacities being what they are and all. I'm gonna go out on a limb and venture a guess she's talking about the overall integrity of the CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM and the need to have all phases of it up to snuff because one weak link will cause the whole thing to break down, but that's just me. There are rules of evidence for all parties concerned. Even the scum of the earth is entitled to a competent defense. They're not supposed to just phone it in or go through the motions because the World hates them any more than a surgeon would give a half-hearted effort on a convicted criminal or do neurosurgery with his left hand for kicks on a convicted murderer. It doesn't work that way and it's not supposed to.

    Re: "Blood In, Blood Out": Prosecution Opens in Ar (none / 0) (#17)
    by wg on Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 12:54:41 PM EST
    As for shackling them up, we are talking about extremem violent criminals here and you worry about hurting their feelings more than public safety? Yes, I do very much for basic reasons of civility. My civility. Citizens aren't animals and under no circumstances can be treated as such by their governments. Never. It offends me greatly that my government is doing it in my name. Again treating citizens as animals is a domestic and international disgrace imo. Often the danger is grossly exaggerated. Take for example the trial of Chou Vang who was accused of killing 6 hunters in some Minnesota woods. When brought to court the first time it was Guantanamo orange, shackled from head to toes and a stunt or explosive belt on his midriff. Paraded in front of TV cameras on his perp walk, which in itself would be unthinkable in any other civil society. Than something happened and the pictures we were seeing from the courtroom were of a model situation. Him sitting in an open defendant box, chatting amiably with his lawyers, talking to relatives who freely approached his box during recessess. With two civil looking guards sitting behind him at a respectful distance. A picture of a modern European courtroom, or that of an American in long forgotten Hollywood movies. Apparently the judge was able to prevail with the court security. So civility is possible after all. Jackbooted, overbearing security has no place in a civilized country. And the degree to which "law enforcement" in this country went "jackbooted" in recent years is deeply troubling. I had an occasion to interact briefly with a chief of police of a small Oregon city (Cornellius) recently. The individual was typical of US law enforcement personel in many respects. Oozing barely restrained desire to intimidate, threatening throughout, and on top of it borderline literate. No even a shred of understanding that he was hired as a public servant not a thug to intimidate the population. But unfortunately that appears to be the dominant "culture" in the security systems in this country these days. That sheriff camp beating to death of late is symptomatic of the culture of the system not accidental imo.

    Re: "Blood In, Blood Out": Prosecution Opens in Ar (none / 0) (#18)
    by jondee on Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 02:04:22 PM EST
    Of course, it purely coincidental that just about every organization that has made race-hatred and separatism a major tenet has found a seemingly hospitable home in a red state. Pure coincidence. "The Reps are no more members of The Aryan Brotherhood than the Dems are members of Al- Queda." Theyre just more open minded and tolerant.

    Re: "Blood In, Blood Out": Prosecution Opens in Ar (none / 0) (#19)
    by Patrick on Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 02:29:53 PM EST
    Clearly, you'd do well not to assume anything given your skills and capacities being what they are and all.
    Charlie, Coming from you that's almost funny. Didn't take long for you to get back to the "real" you. I like how you argue the most obvious points of a topic as if someone disagrees with them and you're the night in shining armor standing alone for justice. Nice, a legend in your own mind. The sad part is sometimes you have a valid point, but it's lost because you've proven yourself to be irrelevant time and time again. You can refute this if you want, and I'm sure you will, but as with some of the "lowest among us," you may deserve protections, but you don't deserve my time.
    Yes, I do very much for basic reasons of civility. My civility. Citizens aren't animals and under no circumstances can be treated as such by their governments.
    Yes we are, and sometimes we do. All people are created equal. We don't all end up that way.
    Often the danger is grossly exaggerated.
    How could you know? Simply because something didn't happen doesn't mean the potential wasn't there. I'll bet you have insurance, for your car, home, health, something. Hopefully, you didn't need it today. Was that money wasted?
    Of course, it purely coincidental that just about every organization that has made race-hatred and separatism a major tenet has found a seemingly hospitable home in a red state.
    Yup California, that perennial red state. Oh wait....

    Re: "Blood In, Blood Out": Prosecution Opens in Ar (none / 0) (#21)
    by Patrick on Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 02:50:16 PM EST
    I suggest you google The Southern Poverty Law Center and see where most of the recognized racist organizations list headquarters and mailing adresses. Oh, wait..
    Well this thread wasn't about all recognized racist organizations. If that was the topic of your post, and not to be related to the case on point, then you were off topic. If your point was related to this thread, then my point is exactly the same and you've proven it yourself. Oh wait, seems to be good advice.

    Re: "Blood In, Blood Out": Prosecution Opens in Ar (none / 0) (#23)
    by Dadler on Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 05:03:46 PM EST
    Patrick, Nice links. The cartogram of the red state/blue state election results, where state size was adjusted for population, was quite interesting (and a tad hallucinagenic to look at). As for the Hate Crime Map, it was also illuminating. Who knew the Klan had chapters just up the road in San Clemente and Newport Beach (two staunchly red communities in a heavily blue state). I think a reverse cartogram for the Hate Crime Map would clear the "bunk" part of your reply to Jondee. If you enlarged states based on hate groups per capita, you'd see a quite different map. Three groups in Montana would translate into a hundred groups with California's population. And Montana would look like friggin' two Alaskas on that map. I guess the larger point we'd agree on is that hatred isn't exclusive to anyone or any region.

    Re: "Blood In, Blood Out": Prosecution Opens in Ar (none / 0) (#24)
    by Patrick on Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 06:27:43 PM EST
    I guess the larger point we'd agree on is that hatred isn't exclusive to anyone or any region.
    dadler, Thank you, well said and concise.

    off topic comment deleted, commenter warned

    Re: "Blood In, Blood Out": Prosecution Opens in Ar (none / 0) (#27)
    by HK on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 03:04:44 AM EST
    If the evidence indeed shows that violent criminals are killing other criminals, I don't see why we should not execute them all.
    Don't quite understand your reasoning here, narius. Judging from your previous posts, surely it would be in keeping with your views if we kept these AB guys in prisons to save the state the bother of executing everyone else? The convicts could all sort themselves out. Or is that idea beneath even you?
    I wouldn't want to sit next to any of those guys, "grandpa" looks aside.
    I accept that you have had some experience of dealing with such men, Labyrinth13, but I have some experience too. I have been in an open visiting room with convicted murderers. These guys did not look like grandpas, but were big with tattoos on their necks. Guards were behind bulletproof glass, which made me wonder what help - if any - they would be if there was trouble. On another ocassion, I was locked in a small visiting cage with a guy convicted of a particularly violent rape and murder. My point is this: there are very few people for whom violence is an uncontrollable part of their everyday normal behaviour. I don't think there are many defendents who would vault from their seats over barriers and start hacking those in a courtroom to death if not shackled to the floor. So, yes, I would sit next to them.
    These are people who sanctioned murders (plural) while in custody for other crimes. It's also proof in my book that the death penaly protects others from harm
    Patrick, if you look at the case of recently executed CA inmate Clarence Ray Allen, you will see that this reasoning clearly does not make sense. Allen was convicted of arranging the death of witnesses while serving a life sentence for another murder. He then went on to spend longer in prison on death row than he had done for the previous conviction until his appeals were exhausted and he was executed (Jan 06). Therefore the death sentence itself did nothing to prevent further murders as he had ample time to arrange more killings should he have so wished. The only way the death sentence would potentially save lives in instances like this is if you took them straight from the courtroom to the execution chamber. To extend Charlie's argument, even the scum of the Earth are entitled to a fair crack of the criminal justice system. Those who already have convictions are particularly easy to label and care must be taken to ensure that ALL convictions are fair and have been judged on the merits of that case only. I don't like one bit what these guys have done (if they are guilty) but you can't take the justice out of the criminal justice system.

    Who is defending white supremacist prison gangs? Who is defending prison gangs of any sort? Just how on earth is "the left" doing this by insisting they get a competent defense? A competent defense that stays awake and doesn't just "phone it in"? Evidently, some on "the right" would prefer they just took a "dive in the first" if they insist on showing up at all. Unlike you, I don't think this is automatically some bad 4th Grade ethnic joke. If the evidence is there, even with a spirited defense, I don't think the Prosecution needs to be the only team on the field for them to be able to score. And by keeping them shackled and/or under close guard, I also don't think the defendants are being denied a fair trial. These guys have demonstrated a chilling ability to get things done both in and out of prison with deadly criminal efficiency. Their communications network is clearly formidable. They have the ability to intimidate and/or kill or do violence to witnesses, guards, lawyers, judges and Court Personnel. Clearly, they're not your average defendants. Precautions need to be taken. For their safety as well. I'm sure they've made a powerful enemy or two along the way.

    Re: "Blood In, Blood Out": Prosecution Opens in Ar (none / 0) (#29)
    by Edger on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 06:26:26 AM EST
    Wow the Left has gotten so nutty that they will defend the constrictual rights of prison skinhead gangs in court. Even yours Jimcee, should you happen to get mixed up with these dummies. Yeah, moonbats are nuts alright...