---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 2002 14:29:56 -0800
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Jamil's trial in Montgomery
From: "Linda Dehnad" <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 09 Oct 2002
Subject: [SNCC] Jamil's trial in Montgomery
On Tuesday, Oct. 1, Jamil was arraigned on new charges in Montgomery
Alabama, and Scott B. and I were among the fifteen or so visitors in the
Althought I felt greatly relieved as I sat in the Montgomery
courtroom, watched Jamil's demeanor and felt the warmth of the spectators,
I held a serious skepticism in my heart, realizing that the government's
struggle to take Jamil off the streets and put him in jail, to have him
under their thumb, was decades-long. They mean business, I reminded myself,
that all the courtroom smiles couldn't mask.
There were about fifteen of us who came to see him, and we all
were smiling. I felt relief mainly because I was glad to see Jamil enter
the courtroom looking calm and sure of himself, albeit shackled and cuffed.
He smiled as he acknowledged each of us. We were sitting in two rows behind
him, almost within arm's reach. His smile and alert eyes alleviated my
anxiety. The judge who was jovial and friendly, and respectful of Jamil and
the lawyers, reinforced the soothing light-heartedness in the courtroom.
The D.A., a younger Black man, bent over backwards to show us his own
seeming support for Jamil. My innate skepticism caused alarm bells to ring,
reminding me that this is an adversarial process, not a meeting of folks
trying to reach consensus. "Be alert," I reminded myself.
Jamil is facing 1) a weapons charge, and 2) the charge of firing
at a Federal officer. He is alleged to have had a weapon that was classed
as illegal because of its caliber, model and make. He is alleged to have
fired on Federal officers in pursuit of their duties. The maximum sentence
stipulated for these crimes is ten years in jail and a fine of $250,000.00.
Two lawyers are representing him: Mr. Martin, from Atlanta, and J.L.
Chestnutt, a locally respected Black lawyer from Selma. I'm told he's very
accessible and I'll try to talk with him to see how we can make ourselves
I've heard two explanations for this trial, one less rosy than the
other. The first is based on the premise that the appeal in Atlanta is
almost certain to successfully overturn the murder conviction, freeing
Jamil from his life sentence. The government, therefore, is bringing these
new charges against him because they want to keep him in prison. They don't
want to lose him when the appeal succeeds in freeing him. The other is a
more sober interpretation: that the government wants to be doubly sure
they'll have him on something, SHOULD the previous conviction be overturned
on appeal. Much less certainty about the success of the appeal.
Jamil's wife acknowledged that he's been doing very well under the
circumstances, in twenty-four hour lockdown in the Federal Prison in
Atlanta, given only an hour-a-day's relief to walk around in an enclosed
courtyard, during which time he remains shackled and cuffed. Shackled, too,
in the shower. His wife, Karima, says he's very adaptable, and the peaceful
look on his face in court Tuesday reflects a calm soul.
Scott B's words, which follow, fill in more details and add another
There was an aura of self, and self-confidence, that was sensed by all
those present in the small courtroom, number 4-B, when Jamil looked up and
held eye contact with those who greeted him with nods, whispered words, and
gestures of encouragement. Jamil was very calm, but gave warmth through his
smile and nod of his head. We all felt we were having a private
conversation with him. His manner of greeting was more than a gesture; it
was a salute. During the swearing-in portion of the hearing, his stance and
manner were remarkable. The marshal who guarded him seemed relaxed, and
visibly moved by his bearing.
All of us, being unaware of the "no visitors except family, lawyers and
clergy" policy about to be imposed, looked forward to visiting him while he
is here in Alabama, awaiting the December trial, knowing the visits would
be more than merely exchanging words, but instead, collecting wisdom.
I'll write more later,
Linda (Moses Dehnad) Smith
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