> Judge approves $4.5 million settlement for former Black Panther
> April 28, 2000
> LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -- With his lawyer declaring that 3 decades of
> injustice had come to an end, a federal judge on Friday approved a
> $4.5 million settlement for former Black Panther leader Elder "Geronimo"
> who spent 25 years in prison for a murder he says he didn't commit.
> Attorney Johnnie Cochran, who represented Pratt at his 1972 murder trial
> and helped him win his freedom a quarter century later after a judge
> found that key evidence was withheld by prosecutors, said the case proved
> that "you can fight city hall and the federal government and win."
> A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice said the deal must still be
> approved by the Los Angeles City Council and includes no admission of
> wrongdoing by the federal government. A spokesman for Mayor Richard
> Riordan could not be reached for comment on the agreement.
> "We have an agreement in principle, but the details have not been
> finalized and there has been no admission of liability by the U.S.," said
> Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller. Cochran said the terms of
> the settlement call for the city to pay Pratt, 53, who now uses the name
> Geronimo ji-Jaga, $2.75 million and the federal government to pay $1.7
> "This puts to rest a matter that has gone on for more than three decades,"
> Cochran said, referring to Pratt's imprisonment, release and subsequent
> civil rights lawsuit against those he held responsible.
> "Both the city of Los Angeles and the government stepped up to the plate
> and did the right thing," said Cochran, who is best known for winning an
> acquittal on murder charges for former football star O.J. Simpson at the
> so-called "Trial of the Century."
> He said that the Pratt case demonstrated that "you have to look at every
> (governmental) agency. No agency should be considered above the
> Pratt, 53, a Vietnam War veteran, was convicted in 1972 of the December,
> 1968, murder of school teacher Caroline Olsen in a Santa Monica park
> in a robbery that netted just $18.
> He claimed during his trial and thereafter that he was innocent and was
> framed by Los Angeles police officers and FBI agents. He argued that the
> FBI had him under surveillance and knew through illegal wiretaps that he
> was in Oakland, California, attending Black Panther Party meetings when
> Olsen was slain.
> In Pratt's sixth appeal of his conviction, Orange County Superior Court
> Judge Everett W. Dickey overturned his conviction, ruling that prosecutors
> at his 1972 murder trial had concealed evidence that could have led to
> an acquittal.
> Pratt has moved to Morgan City, Louisiana, his hometown, where he is
> working with a community coalition to convert the abandoned school he
> once attended into a youth center.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Jun 02 2000 - 19:11:56 CUT