facebook linkedin twitter

Justices Decline to Revisit Case Involving 60s Black Militant

April 6, 2020 by Dan McCue
Justices Decline to Revisit Case Involving 60s Black Militant
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.

A+
a-

In The News

Health

Voting

Supreme Court

Biden's High Court Pledge Shows Growing Power of Black Women

As he struggled to survive the 2020 Democratic primary, Joe Biden made a striking pledge before voting began in heavily... Read More

As he struggled to survive the 2020 Democratic primary, Joe Biden made a striking pledge before voting began in heavily African American, must-win South Carolina: His first Supreme Court appointment would be a Black woman. On Thursday, with his poll numbers reaching new lows and his... Read More

January 27, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Breyer’s Supreme Court Departure Gets Mixed Reaction on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON — Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Stephen G. Breyer officially announced his retirement from the court Thursday. After... Read More

WASHINGTON — Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Stephen G. Breyer officially announced his retirement from the court Thursday. After his colleagues told media outlets on Wednesday the announcement was coming, Democrats generally praised Breyer for his liberal stances protecting abortion, voting rights, the Affordable Care... Read More

January 27, 2022
by Dan McCue
Biden Celebrates Breyer, Affirms Vow to Name Black Woman to Supreme Court

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday affirmed his campaign pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the U.S.... Read More

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday affirmed his campaign pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying that while he does not yet know who his eventual nominee will be, such a choice was “long overdue." He also took time... Read More

January 27, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Two Top Candidates for Supreme Court Emerge

WASHINGTON – Justice Stephen Breyer’s announcement Wednesday that he plans to retire this year puts two female judges on the... Read More

WASHINGTON – Justice Stephen Breyer’s announcement Wednesday that he plans to retire this year puts two female judges on the short list to replace him at the Supreme Court. One of them is Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District... Read More

Dems See High Court Pick as Chance to Revive 2022 Prospects

Democrats stung by a series of election year failures to deliver legislative wins for their most loyal voters hope they will be... Read More

Democrats stung by a series of election year failures to deliver legislative wins for their most loyal voters hope they will be buoyed by the prospect of President Joe Biden naming the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Justice Stephen Breyer's pending retirement, confirmed by... Read More

January 26, 2022
by Dan McCue
Justice Stephen Breyer to Retire From Supreme Court

WASHINGTON — Justice Stephen Breyer, a pragmatic liberal who has served on the Supreme Court for nearly 28 years, is... Read More

WASHINGTON — Justice Stephen Breyer, a pragmatic liberal who has served on the Supreme Court for nearly 28 years, is expected to inform the White House today that he plans to step down at the end of this term. Pete Williams of NBC News was the... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top