[sixties-l] Re: SLA Case: Sara Olson Hearing

From: Jeffrey Blankfort (jab@tucradio.org)
Date: 12/01/00

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    Press Release Re: 
    Statement of the Sara Olson Defense Fund Committee 
    November 30, 2000 
    Earlier this month The Sara Olson Defense Fund Committee  became 
    the focus of
     the Los Angeles District attorney's office. 
     A motion that was filed as public document in Sara^s case went up 
    on the defense committee's WEB site, www.saraolsondefense.com.  More
    a week and a half later the defense fund committee learned that the
    motion had 
    been sealed the day after it was filed because addresses and phone
    of defense witnesses were included in the document. The names were then
     removed as soon as possible. 
     The committee was accused of endangering the lives of two police 
    officers (one of whom is retired) by
    the publication of a defense motion for 
    discovery and sanctions on the web site after it had been
    filed with the court. Sara and her attorneys,
    who have no responsibility for the WEB 
    site, were accused of refusing to take the numbers and 
    addresses down. 
     Neither the Los Angeles district attorney's office nor the 
    representatives of the officers ever contacted
    the committee to inform it that the motion had been sealed, 
    what's more to request that the
    information in question be removed.  Instead, they requested
     sanctions against Sara's attorney's and an
    increase in Sara's bail from one million to two million 
    dollars. The committee removed the
    information in question in less than one business
     day. "The L.A. District Attorney's failure to contact
    the committee was the direct cause of the amount of 
    time it took to remove the information in
     The main focus of the November 17th hearing was suppose to be 
    the acquisition by the defense of necessary discovery evidence from the 
     D.A.'s office. This evidence is needed by the defense's expert 
    witness in order for Sara to receive a fair trial. This same 
    evidence was requested by Ms. Jordan and Mr. Hanlon, Sara's 
    former attorneys,  back in November of 1999. 
    To date it is the committee's understanding that the defense 
    has yet to receive it. Also on the calendar was a motion dealing with
    chain of evidence. It is necessary for  the police and the
    prosecution to establish that the evidence in question has 
    been stored properly and has not been altered
    in any way from its original condition. The defense 
    must be informed of any alterations or changes in
    the evidence. If the police and the prosecution have failed to properly
    maintain the evidence it means
    that the defense experts may not get an accurate idea of what might have 
    occurred. In that instance the use of that evidence would not 
    be fair to the defense. 
    Instead, the issue of the web site became a smokescreen for the
    prosecution and the focus of the hearing.
    In the courtroom, LAPD officer Hall, who was in uniform and carrying 
    a gun, was allowed to come forward and begin to present a written 
     rhetorical statement. This statement was not made under oath.  
    Tony Serra, one of Sara^s lead attorneys, made vigorous objections 
    to officer Hall being allowed to make a statement not under oath.  
    When officer Hall was allowed to go ahead with his statement, Mr. Serra 
    made it impossible for Hall to read his entire statement by accusing 
    him of slander and perjury.  The judge then told officer Hall to 
    state how he was affected by his name being listed on the website. Hall 
    stated that "he and his family would live in terror as long as they
    at that address." He also pointed out that there were extra armed
    in the courtroom that day because of this terror, to protect him, 
    apparently, from committee members. 
    Committee members and family present at the hearing were totally amazed. 
    Tony Serra had already stood up and taken full responsibility for the 
    addresses and  phone numbers being placed in the motion.
     Judge James Ideman did acknowledge that he could not prove 
    Sara had any control over the web site. Nor could he place sanctions 
    on Sara or her attorneys.  He proceeded to warn Sara and her attorneys 
    that they were playing a dangerous game. He stated more than once that
    looked like SLA tactics to him and he called the web site a terrorist 
    web site. He advised the prosecution that perhaps they could use this 
    to strengthen their case against Sara. The press was present while 
    the judge blatantly played the role of prosecutor. Family and friends
    sat by observing, helpless to defend themselves against these slanderous
     The hearing then proceeded to deal with the other motions. The judge 
    refused to consider extending the trial but did agree to appoint a 
    discovery master who would mediate and expedite the discovery
    dispute. The defense had made a request for a discovery master over 
    a year ago when it was clear the prosecution was withholding evidence. 
    The judge was very dismissive and said, "ready or not we will
    start January 8th" and that he was going on vacation for three 
    weeks. Judge James Ideman also refused to allow discovery regarding 
    the possible collusion between the prosecution and James Bryan, the
    former LAPD police officer that had a 25-year lapse in memory.  
    After 25 years of failing to recognize Sara in his official reports 
    or under oath in front of the original grand jury in 1976,  he has 
    stated that he suddenly remembered in 1999 that she looked at him 
    with such loathing in her eyes that he would
    never forget her. 
    The judge then hinted to the Prosecution that they should think 
    twice before bringing this witness forward as his action in suing 
    Sara in a civil suit opens up his entire mental health history of which 
    there is, apparently, plenty. 
     The Defense Fund Committee is made up of friends and supporters of
    Our goal is to raise funds,to network and build support while 
     keeping people informed of the proceedings in Sara^s case. We are 
    parents, social activists, and workers struggling to do what is right. 
    We see this case as one that is unfair and we believe that Sara is being 
    scapegoated. If the prosecution had stuck to the original indictment, 
    this would have been over long ago because they have no evidence in 
    the alleged bombing attempts. It is only because they have added 22
    related to the SLA^many for which no one was ever indicted, and which
    nothing to do with Sara since she was never a member of the SLA^ making 
    this one of the biggest conspiracy cases ever brought  against an
    It has gone on for a year and one-half,  costing millions of California
    dollars(estimate from attorneys:$3-5 million dollars)
    and ruined lives. 
     The Sara Olson Defense Fund Committee does not publish any motion or 
    article  with any kind of malicious intent to terrorize or instill fear
     anyone^s life, despite Judge Ideman's and the prosecution's contentions 
    to the contrary. Rather, it is the committee's intent to disseminate 
     accurate information about Sara and her case.  All motions that are
    posted on our Web site, www.saraolsondefense.com, are public documents
    which have been filed with the court.  The judge admitted as much on
    November 17 in court. 
    We will continue to operate the web site in support of Sara,
    www.saraolsondefense.com. We publish all
    of the defense motions which are not 
    under seal as well as various articles and letters of support. 
    We continue to ask for your support. 
    The Sara Olson Defense Fund Committee

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