Justices Decline to Revisit Case Involving 60s Black Militant

April 6, 2020 by Dan McCue
H. Rap. Brown, who now goes by the name Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, watches during the sentencing portion of his trial in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ric Feld, File)

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court did not add any new cases to its docket Monday morning, declining, among other things, to revisit the murder conviction of the 1960s black militant formerly known as H. Rap Brown.

A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he rose to fame in the 1960s as a chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and during a short-lived alliance between the committee and the Black Panther Party, he served as their minister of justice.

Among his proclamations at the time was “violence is as American as cherry pie.”

The 76-year-old Brown converted to Islam following his 1960s heyday, taking the name Jamil Al-Amin and became an active religious leader in the Atlanta area.

In 2002, he was convicted of murder in the death of Fulton County sheriff’s Deputy Ricky Kinchen and the wounding of Kinchen’s partner, Deputy Aldranon English. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Character witnesses during the sentencing portion of his trial included former Atlanta mayor, U.N. ambassador and civil rights leader Andrew Young, who had met Brown in the 1980s.

“He was — and is — a very peaceful man,” Young said. “I saw no trace of any of the reported anger.”

Prosecutors sought the death penalty, but jurors chose life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Al-Amin has long argued the prosecutor of his case violated his right not to testify by directly questioning him during closing arguments in a sort of mock cross-examination.

During closing arguments, the prosecutor displayed a chart titled “Questions for the defendant” and asked “pointed questions” meant to focus the jury’s attention on the fact that Al-Amin didn’t testify, his lawyers argued.

Al-Amin also had court permission to remain seated during the trial for religious reasons, including not standing when the jury entered. The prosecutor implored the jury, “Don’t stand for him.”

The defense objected to the prosecutor’s actions, and the trial judge gave the jury instructions meant to neutralize any harm caused by the prosecutor’s statements.

In September 2017, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg found that Brown’s constitutional right not to testify was in fact violated by the prosecutor’s questioning.

She also found that the trial court’s attempt to mitigate the prosecutor’s violation was insufficient and may have actually been harmful.

But at the end of the day, she wrote, “there is ‘weighty’ evidence supporting his conviction.”

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta later affirmed Totenberg’s ruling.

As is their custom, the Justices of the Supreme Court did not explain why they turned down Al-Amin’s case.

Supreme Court

Supreme Court Blocks Curbside Voting in Alabama
2020 Elections
Supreme Court Blocks Curbside Voting in Alabama

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision Thursday blocked a lower court ruling allowing curbside voting in Alabama and waiving some absentee ballot requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. Conservative justices granted Alabama’s request to stay a federal judge’s order that would... Read More

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Release of Full Mueller Report
Supreme Court
Supreme Court to Hear Case on Release of Full Mueller Report
July 2, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court announced on Thursday that it would decide whether Congress may see currently redacted parts of the report prepared by Special Counsel Robert Mueller during his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. As is their custom, the justices did not... Read More

High Court Strikes Down Ban on Taxpayer Funding for Religious Schools
Education
High Court Strikes Down Ban on Taxpayer Funding for Religious Schools
June 30, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court struck down a ban on taxpayer funding for religious schools on Tuesday, saying such institutions can't be prevented from participating in programs that use public funds to support private education. The 5-4 ruling upheld a Montana scholarship program that allows state... Read More

Justices Hold Booking.com Can Trademark Its Name
Business
Justices Hold Booking.com Can Trademark Its Name
June 30, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON — A nearly unanimous Supreme Court said Tuesday that the travel website Booking.com can trademark its name, a ruling of high significance to other companies using a generic word followed by ".com." as a name. Lower courts had sided with Booking.com, but the Trump administration... Read More

Supreme Court Affirms Trump's Right to Say 'You're Fired' to Consumer Regulator
Supreme Court
Supreme Court Affirms Trump's Right to Say 'You're Fired' to Consumer Regulator
June 29, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed President Donald Trump's ability to fire the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Monday, but left undisturbed the rest of the statute that created the agency in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis. Writing for the... Read More

Supreme Court Upholds Prostitution Pledge for AIDS Funding
Supreme Court
Supreme Court Upholds Prostitution Pledge for AIDS Funding
June 29, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court upheld a provision of federal law Monday that requires foreign affiliates of U.S.-based health organizations to denounce prostitution as a condition of receiving taxpayer money to fight AIDS around the world.  Writing for the majority in the 5-3 ruling, Justice Brett... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top