Crime Attorney Who Claimed He Was ‘Personally Threatened’ by County D.A. Removed from Case for Refusing to Represent Client without an Apology. He Called the Courthouse a ‘Cesspool of White Privilege.’
Princess Diana's wedding dress goes on display in London
LONDON (AP) — The dress Princess Diana wore at her 1981 wedding to Prince Charles went on public display Thursday at the late princess's former home in London. The taffeta-ruffled white dress designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, with its 25 foot (8 meter) sequin-encrusted train, helped seal the fairytale image of the wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and the heir to the British throne. Reality soon intruded. The couple separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996, with both acknowledging extramarital affairs. Diana died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 at the age of 36.
A Pennsylvania judge ordered a Black defense attorney to be removed from a case after the lawyer said he would not represent his client in a bench trial until the county district attorney apologized, resigned, or recused himself from cases involving his clients, Pittsburgh-based news outlet the Tribune-Review.
Asby Law&Crime, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. (D) last month sparked outrage after he reportedly forbade all of the deputy prosecutors in his office from offering plea deals to the clients of attorney Milton Raiford, who criticized the prosecutor’s office as being “systematically racist” during a court appearance.
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Five days after Raiford’s diatribe against the system, Zappalastating that cases involving Raiford’s clients “may proceed on the information as filed, whether by general plea, nonjury or jury trial,” but said that effective immediately, “no plea offers are to be made.”
Zappala’s decision was condemned by legal experts as depriving Raiford of his livelihood and his clients of their right to counsel. Local politicians also condemned Zappala, with several calling for the DA’s resignation or removal.
According to the Tribune-Review’s report, Raiford on Wednesday morning appeared before Common Pleas Judge Anthony M. Mariani, but refused to allow the proceedings to move forward until Zappala was no longer involved in the case, or at least met with him to discuss the situation personally.
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Supreme Court is deciding how to interpret the state's third-degree murder statute in a police killing case that is expected to have repercussions for the four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd. The state's highest court heard oral arguments Wednesday in the case of Mohamed Noor, a former Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond. Damond, a dual U.S.-Australian citizen engaged to a Minneapolis man, had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault behind her home. Noor was convicted in 2019 of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Holding copies of the Bible and the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, Raiford reportedly spent several minutes discussing theology, racism, and the criminal justice system, reiterating that the latter was “systemically racist,” and claiming that Zappala had “personally threatened me.”
“Those of you who sit up there have to come in contact with your own brokenness and weakness and have respect for those who come before you who are broken and weak themselves,” Raiford reportedly said. “This building is a cesspool of white privilege.”
Raiford, who is a pastor, added that Zappala “hadn’t repented” for his actions.
Judge Mariani reportedly told Raiford, however, that he would not “referee” the conflict between Raiford and Zappala’s office. The judge repeatedly implored him to defend his client, Vanessa Williams, whose bench trial on charges of aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence was slated to begin, but each time Raiford refused, per the Tribune-Review.
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SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California couple could face a murder charge over a road rage shooting that killed a 6-year-old boy last month on a freeway, authorities said. Marcus Anthony Eriz, 24, and Wynne Lee, 23, were expected to be arraigned Tuesday in the death of Aiden Leos, who was shot as his mother drove him to kindergarten on April 21 in Orange County, southeast of Los Angeles. According to accounts from the mother and witnesses who stopped to help her, another car cut her off and she responded with a hand gesture and the car slipped in behind her and someone inside fired a shot through the rear of her car.
“You’re asking me to stand by an oath you violate every day,” Raiford said to Mariani. He also said he could not continue with the proceedings as long as “an agent of Stephen Zappala” was prosecuting the case, adding, “I’m trying to help get you guys cleaned up.”
During one exchange, Raiford reportedly refused to reconsider his position, telling Mariani, “I’m not going to play that game. I’m not going to dance for you.”
After noting that Raiford was a “good attorney and advocate,” Mariani finally concluded that Raiford had to be removed from the case, saying no lawyer or judge should “have the right to stop the system cold.”
When Raiford said he was “doing what God has commissioned” him to do, Mariani accused him of grandstanding for his own benefit.
“You, sir, are reneging on your obligation and promise to Ms. Williams,” Mariani said, per the Tribune-Review. “You’re using this as a way to advance your other interests.”
[image via WPXI-TV screengrab]
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Jails emptied in the pandemic. Should they stay that way? .
It wasn’t long after Matthew Reed shoplifted a $63 set of sheets from a Target in upstate New York that the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a standstill. Instead of serving a jail sentence, he stayed at home, his case deferred more than a year, as courts closed and jails nationwide dramatically reduced their populations to stop the spread of COVID-19. But the numbers have begun creeping up again as courts are back in session and the world begins returning to a modified version of normal. It’s worrying criminal justice reformers who argue that the past year proved there is no need to keep so many people locked up in the U.S.