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Criminal Prosecution and Accountability
A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN ANNOUNCES MAJOR LAWSUIT AGAINST NATION’S LARGEST BANKS FOR DECEPTIVE & FRAUDULENT USE OF ELECTRONIC MORTGAGE REGISTRY
Complaint Charges Use Of MERS By Bank Of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, And Wells Fargo Resulted In Fraudulent Foreclosure Filings
Servicers And MERS Filed Improper Foreclosure Actions Where Authority To Sue Was Questionable
Schneiderman: MERS And Servicers Engaged In Deceptive and Fraudulent Practices That Harmed Homeowners And Undermined Judicial Foreclosure Process
NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today filed a lawsuit against several of the nation’s largest banks charging that the creation and use of a private national mortgage electronic registry system known as MERS has resulted in a wide range of deceptive and fraudulent foreclosure filings in New York state and federal courts, harming homeowners and undermining the integrity of the judicial foreclosure process. The lawsuit asserts that employees and agents of Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo, acting as "MERS certifying officers," have repeatedly submitted court documents containing false and misleading information that made it appear that the foreclosing party had the authority to bring a case when in fact it may not have. The lawsuit names JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., Bank of America, N.A., Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., as well as Virginia-based MERSCORP, Inc. and its subsidiary, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.
The lawsuit further asserts that the MERS System has effectively eliminated homeowners' and the public's ability to track property transfers through the traditional public records system. Instead, this information is now stored only in a private database – which is plagued with inaccuracies and errors – over which MERS and its financial institution members exercise sole control. Additional defendants include BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, Chase Home Finance LLC, EMC Mortgage Corporation, and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc.
“The banks created the MERS system as an end-run around the property recording system, to facilitate the rapid securitization and sale of mortgages. Once the mortgages went sour, these same banks brought foreclosure proceedings en masse based on deceptive and fraudulent court submissions, seeking to take homes away from people with little regard for basic legal requirements or the rule of law,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Our action demonstrates that there is one set of rules for all – no matter how big or powerful the institution may be – and that those rules will be enforced vigorously. Only through real accountability for the illegal and deceptive conduct in the foreclosure crisis will there be justice for New York’s homeowners.”
The financial industry created MERS in 1995 to allow financial institutions to evade local county recording fees, avoid the hassle and paperwork of publicly recording mortgage transfers, and facilitate the rapid sale and securitization of mortgages. MERS operates as a membership organization, and most large companies that participate in the mortgage industry – by originating loans, buying or investing in loans, or servicing loans – are members, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. Over 70 million loans nationally have been registered in MERS System, including about 30 million currently active loans.
Through their membership in MERS, these companies avoided publicly recording the purchase and sale of mortgages by designating MERS Inc. – a shell company with no economic interest in any mortgage loan – as the "nominal" mortgagee of the loan in the public records. Instead, MERS members were supposed to log mortgage transfers in the MERS private electronic registry. The basic theory behind MERS is that, because MERS Inc. serves as a "nominee" (or agent) for most major lenders, it remains the "mortgagee" in the public records regardless of how often the loan is sold or transferred among MERS members. Thus, although MERSCORP has only about 70 employees, MERS Inc. serves as the mortgagee of record for tens of millions of loans registered in the MERS System.
MERS has granted over 20,000 “certifying officers” the authority to act on its behalf, including the authority to assign mortgages, to execute paperwork necessary to foreclose, and to submit filings on behalf of MERS in bankruptcy proceedings. These certifying officers are not MERS employees, but instead are employed by MERS members, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo.
MERS' conduct, as well as the servicers’ use of the MERS System, has resulted in the filing of improper New York foreclosure proceedings, undermined the integrity of the judicial process, created confusion and uncertainty concerning property ownership interests, and potentially clouded titles on properties throughout the State of New York. In fact, several New York judges have questioned the standing of the foreclosing party in cases involving MERS loans and the validity of mortgage assignments executed by MERS certifying officers.
The lawsuit specifically charges that the defendants have engaged in the following fraudulent and deceptive practices:
- MERS has filed over 13,000 foreclosure actions against New York homeowners listing itself as the plaintiff, but in many instances, MERS lacked the legal authority to foreclose and did not own or hold the promissory note, despite saying otherwise in court submissions.
- MERS certifying officers, including employees and agents of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo, have repeatedly executed and submitted in court legal documents purporting to assign the mortgage and/or note to the foreclosing party. These documents contain numerous defects, including affirmative misrepresentations of fact, which render them false, deceptive, and/or invalid. These assignments were often automatically generated and "robosigned" by individuals who did not review the underlying property ownership records, confirm the documents’ accuracy, or even read the documents. These false and defective assignments often masked gaps in the chain of title and the foreclosing party's inability to establish its authority to foreclose, and as a result have misled homeowners and the courts.
- MERS' indiscriminate use of non-employee "certifying officers" to execute vital legal documents has confused, misled, and deceived homeowners and the courts and made it difficult to ascertain whether a party actually has the right to foreclose. MERS certifying officers have regularly executed and submitted in court mortgage assignments and other legal documents on behalf of MERS without disclosing that they are not MERS employees, but instead are employed by other entities, such as the mortgage servicer filing the case or its counsel. The signature line just indicates that the individual is an "Assistant Secretary," "Vice President," or other officer of MERS. Indeed, these documents often purport to assign the mortgage to the certifying officer's own employer. Moreover, as a result of the defendants' failure to track the designation of certifying officers and the scope of their authority to act, individuals have executed legal documents on behalf of MERS, such as mortgage assignments and loan modifications, when they were either not designated as a MERS certifying officer at the time or were not authorized to execute documents on behalf of MERS with respect to the subject loan.
- MERS and its members have deceived and misled borrowers about the importance and ramifications of MERS' role with respect to their loan by providing inadequate disclosures.
- The MERS System is riddled with inaccuracies which make it difficult to verify the chain of title for a loan or the current note-holder, and creates confusion among stakeholders who rely on the information. In addition, as a result of these inaccuracies, MERS has filed mortgage satisfactions against the wrong property.
The lawsuit seeks a declaration that the alleged practices violate the law, as well as injunctive relief, damages for harmed homeowners, and civil penalties. The lawsuit also seeks a court order requiring defendants to take all actions necessary to cure any title defects and clear any improper liens resulting from their fraudulent and deceptive acts and practices.
The matter is being handled by Deputy Bureau Chief of the Bureau of Consumer Frauds & Protection Jeffrey K. Powell, Assistant Attorney General Clare Norins, and Assistant Solicitor General Steven C. Wu, under the supervision of First Deputy Attorney General Harlan Levy.
The American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal court Wednesday to force the Obama administration to release legal and intelligence records related to the killing of three U.S. citizens in drone attacks in Yemen last year.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, charged the Justice and Defense departments and the CIA with illegally failing to respond to requests made in October under the Freedom of Information Act. It cited public comments made by President Obama, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and other officials in arguing that the government cannot credibly claim a secrecy defense.
“The government’s self-serving attitude toward transparency and disclosure is unacceptable,” the ACLU said in a statement. “Officials cannot be allowed to release bits of information about the targeted killing program when they think it will bolster their position, but refuse even to confirm [its] existence” when asked for information “in the service of real transparency and accountability.”
In addition to statements by Obama and Panetta, the lawsuit notes that “media reports about the targeted killing program routinely quote anonymous government officials describing details of the program.”
With no independent outside access to Pakistan’s tribal zones, the disconnect is near-absolute between those who charge the administration with unjustified killings and those in the administration who deny the allegations. On Dec. 2, a Pakistani lawyer backed by the British-based charity Reprieve notified Munter of plans to file murder charges in the deaths of Tariq Aziz, 16, and his cousin Waheed Rehman, 12, allegedly killed in an Oct. 31 drone strike on a vehicle in their home region of North Waziristan. According to Reprieve, its representatives had met with Tariq just days earlier in Islamabad to give him a camera to document drone deaths.
Federal prosecutors are preparing to file criminal charges against former Wall Street traders alleging they misstated the value of mortgage bonds, an issue central to the 2008 financial crisis, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office is planning to allege in a criminal complaint that several former traders at Credit Suisse Group AG, a major global investment bank, misled the bank's investors by booking inflated prices of mortgage bonds to boost their bonuses, despite knowing the values of those securities had dropped, according to the people familiar with the matter.
In response to the Obama administration’s decision to admit interim Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to the U.S. on Saturday night, purportedly to receive medical treatment, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:
By Marjorie Cohn
They ranged from little babies to adult males and females.
I'll never be able to get that out of my head. I can still smell the blood.
This left something in my head and heart.
-Lance Cpl. Roel Ryan Briones
Last week, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich was sentenced to a reduction in rank but no jail time for leading his squad in a rampage known as “The Haditha Massacre.” Wuterich, who was charged with nine counts of manslaughter, pled guilty to dereliction of duty. Six other Marines have had their charges dismissed and another was acquitted for his part in the massacre.
MADRID — Baltasar Garzón, a high-profile Spanish judge who garnered international renown by pursuing political leaders, including Gen. Augusto Pinochet of Chile, was himself on trial on Tuesday over accusations that he had abused his powers to investigate atrocities committed during the Spanish Civil War.
The case is one of three trials focusing on Judge Garzón, who had spearheaded Spain’s fight against political corruption and against terrorism by ETA, the Basque separatist group.
Last week, a separate trial began over whether Judge Garzón had ordered illegal eavesdropping as part of a corruption investigation. The case that opened on Tuesday follows Judge Garzón’s indictment by a fellow judge in early 2010 on charges that he overreached his authority in pursuit of civil war abuses.
The case, which on Tuesday focused on procedural issues, has drawn international resonance and criticism. Amnesty International has called the proceeding against the judge “a threat to human rights and judicial independence.”
NEW YORK – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit today affirmed the dismissal of the American Civil Liberties Union’s lawsuit against current and former government officials for their roles in the unlawful detention and torture of U.S. citizen José Padilla. The U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina ruled in February that an American citizen designated an "enemy combatant" by the executive branch and tortured by government officials could not bring suit to vindicate his constitutional rights.
“Today is a sad day for the rule of law and for those who believe that the courts should protect American citizens from torture by their own government,” said ACLU National Security Project Litigation Director Ben Wizner, who argued the appeal in court. “By dismissing this lawsuit, the appeals court handed the government a blank check to commit any abuse in the name of national security, even the brutal torture of a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil. This impunity is not only anathema to a democracy governed by laws, but contrary to history’s lesson that in times of fear our values are a strength, not a hindrance.”
From the Los Angeles Times:
Prosecutors and defense attorneys in the court-martial of Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, accused in the killing of 24 unarmed Iraqis in 2005, announced an agreement Monday to settle the case.
Wuterich will plead guilty to a single count of negligent dereliction of duty. Other charges were dropped. No announcement was made on what kind of discharge Wuterich would receive.
The maximum sentence is three months in the brig. That decision will be made by the judge.
By Dave Lindorff
The Iraq war may be over, at least for US troops, but the cover-up of the atrocities committed there by American forces goes on, even in retrospectives about the war. A prime example is reporting on the destroyed city of Fallujah, where some of the heaviest fighting of the war took place.
On March 31, 2004, four armed mercenaries working for the firm then known as Blackwater (now Xe), were captured in Fallujah, Iraq’s third largest city and a hotbed of insurgent strength located in Anbar Province about 40 miles west of Baghdad. Reportedly killed in their vehicle, which was then torched, their charred bodies were strung up on a bridge over the Euphrates River.
The Codepink "Pink Panther Ladies Investment Club" met with Goldman Sachs in their posh San Francisco offices
By Susan Harman
I went to the 9th Circuit in San Francisco today to give Jay Bybee a piece of mind, as I've been doing for several years now. I watched him adjudicate a murder case, outraged at the innapropriateness of someone who's responsible for 100 (that we know of) men dying of torture, and indirectly for the million dead Iraqis and 5,000 dead American soldiers who were murdered because of lies wrung out of people by Bybee's torture, sitting in judgement over an 18 year-old kid who killed one person.
When the gavel came down, I stood and said, "Jay Bybee! Spain is coming after you for war crimes!" and four federal marshalls jumped on me. I was very surprised by their attack, because we negotiated an agreement after I was arrested in Seattle with the Chief Justice, Alex Kozinski, that we would not interrupt the cases, and the marshalls would let us be.
U.S. and Spanish Authorities Attempted to Stop Cases Seeking Accountability of U.S. Officials for Torture and Unlawful Killing
January 19, 2012, Madrid, New York, Berlin – Today, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), filed a formal complaint to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Mrs. Gabriela Knaul. The groups submitted evidence from U.S.-Madrid embassy cables obtained through WikiLeaks that show that senior U.S. and Spanish officials sought to interfere with the Spanish judicial process in order to shield Americans from criminal prosecution for torture and unlawful killing.
19 January 2012 - A North Carolina human rights group is calling on state officials to investigate and stop alleged CIA missions originating in Johnston County that involve illegal torture.
North Carolina Stop Torture Now delivered a University of North Carolina School of Law report Wednesday to the governor, attorney general and others that claims the Central Intelligence Agency relies on Smithfield-based Aero Contractors Ltd. to provide planes and pilots to transport prisoners overseas from the Johnston County Airport for secret interrogation using torture techniques.
Today Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, along with eight other human rights organizations, released a joint statement regarding the upcoming trial against Judge Baltasar Garzón in Spain for criminal malfeasance.
In May 2010, Judge Garzón was suspended by the Supreme Court as a result of an investigation into the charge of criminal malfeasance. Malfeasance concerns misconduct in the administration of justice and sanctions judges for making unjust judicial decisions. Judge Garzón is the only judge to have challenged the lack of accountability relating to the crimes committed during the Spanish Civil war and the subsequent Franco Regime. In October 2008, he applied the principle that crimes against humanity cannot be subject to statutes of limitation or amnesty and authorized the investigation into the alleged disappearance, torture and execution of 114,266 persons, identified as victims, between 17 July 1936 and December 1951. The joint statement, which is available in English and Spanish, comes as the court prepares to hear what has been termed the ‘historic memory’ case against Judge Garzón next week. The signatory organizations stress the need for any criminal offence, such as that against malfeasance by judicial officers, to be applied cautiously so as not to undermine the independence of the judiciary and or to sanction a judge for following an accepted interpretation of international law. The statement calls on the Spanish Supreme Court to act in accordance with the duty to guarantee the constitutional and international laws that defines its jurisdictional function with regard to the international obligations taken on by Spain.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Those intent on tormenting now ex-death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal have done it again, this time perhaps even exceeding their past efforts to painfully harass this man widely perceived as a political prisoner.
By Chris Hedges
Attorneys Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran filed a complaint Friday in the Southern U.S. District Court in New York City on my behalf as a plaintiff against Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to challenge the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force as embedded in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed by the president Dec. 31.
The act authorizes the military in Title X, Subtitle D, entitled “Counter-Terrorism,” for the first time in more than 200 years, to carry out domestic policing. With this bill, which will take effect March 3, the military can indefinitely detain without trial any U.S. citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism. And suspects can be shipped by the military to our offshore penal colony in Guantanamo Bay and kept there until “the end of hostilities.” It is a catastrophic blow to civil liberties.
MADRID - A Spanish judge says he is proceeding with a probe into human rights abuses at the U.S. prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, after Washington failed to respond to requests for information.
The probe stems from torture complaints filed by four Muslims who are either citizens or residents of Spain and were once held at the prison.
The probe had been on hold while Judge Pablo Ruz awaited a response from the United States. Ruz said Friday he had received no answer from the U.S. and had thus decided to continue the case.
The judge asked prosecutors to report back to him with the names of U.S. officials who should be targeted in the probe.
Now, the Center for Constitutional Rights claims to have evidence of mistreatment of at least one detainee, Mohammed Al-Qahtani. He was believed to have been recruited by Al Qaeda to be one of the enforcers aboard the four hijacked planes on 9/11. He failed to join the 19 other terrorists because he was refused entry into the U.S. days earlier. He was subsequently hunted down, arrested in Afghanistan, and detained at the Guantanamo Bay compound. He has never gone to trial.
The human rights group claims Qahtani was tortured and subjected to "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" and that the Center's lawyers have seen videotape that proves it. The group has filed suit in federal court, demanding that the government release the tape for the public to see.
Killer Cops Aren't Heroes: We Need Police Who Think Like Firefighters, Not Like Soldiers in a War Zone
By Dave Lindorff
The sad slaying of troubled eighth-grader Jaime Gonzalez in Brownsville by trigger-happy local police illustrates the sad an dangerous state we have arrived at as we turn our local police forces into SWAT team soldiers up-armed with assault rifles, black facemasks and stun grenades.
The reason Gonzalez, who had no hostages and was just armed with a pellet gun, was killed by police bullets was because the primary concern of the officers confronting him was to eliminate the threat to themselves, not to rescue a troubled kid.
This recently released report, Indefensible: A Reference for Prosecuting Torture and Other Felonies Committed by U.S. Officials Following September 11th, serves as a practitioner’s reference addressing the domestic and international laws implicated by the actions of certain former high-ranking government officials. The report lays the groundwork for litigation against those responsible for approving and using illegal interrogation techniques that were the official policy of the Bush Administration.
More than a decade after the onset of the Bush Administration’s post-9/11 anti-terrorism policies, not a single torture survivor has succeeded in holding a top government official accountable in a U.S. court for the indefensible act of torture due in large part to legal maneuvering by both the Bush and Obama Administrations. While certain actions taken by President Obama indicate his desire to break with the lawlessness characterized by the Bush Administration, he has failed to fulfill his international legal obligation to investigate these crimes of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The report is a call for action. If accountability cannot be achieved through the courts, it becomes even more critical that the U.S. government properly investigate acts of torture either through the appointment of a Special Counsel or alternatively by Congressional enactment of a Commission of Inquiry.
The report is the result of a multi-year collaborative effort between Human Rights USA and the International Human Rights Law Clinic at American University Washington College of Law.
Read the full report, and view the press release. In addition, you may request a hardcopy of the report by e-mailing email@example.com. Please include “Accountability Report Request” in the subject line, as well as the appropriate return address listed in the body of the e-mail. You may also make a request by calling (202) 296-5702.
By Bob Egelko, The San Francisco Chronicle
The nation's telecommunications companies can't be sued for cooperating with the Bush administration's secret surveillance program, but their customers can sue the government for allegedly intercepting their phone calls and e-mails without a warrant, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.
In a pair of decisions, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a 2008 law immunizing AT&T and other companies for their roles in wiretapping calls to alleged foreign terrorists, but revived a suit that accused the government of illegally intercepting millions of messages from U.S. residents.
That lawsuit was partly based on testimony in 2003 by former AT&T technician Mark Klein about equipment in the company's office on Folsom Street in San Francisco that allowed Internet traffic to be routed to the government.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy-rights organization representing AT&T customers, claimed the company had similar installations in other cities and used them for "dragnet" surveillance of everyday e-mails and phone calls, which the National Security Agency purportedly screened electronically for connections to terrorism.
"We look forward to proving the program is an unconstitutional and illegal violation of the rights of millions of ordinary Americans," said Cindy Cohn, the foundation's legal director.
Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd declined comment.
President George W. Bush acknowledged in 2005 that his administration had eavesdropped on calls to suspected foreign terrorists without the warrants required by federal law, but his Justice Department denied the existence of a dragnet surveillance program.
Dozens of suits challenging the surveillance were transferred to San Francisco. In one case, then-Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in March 2010 that federal agents had illegally wiretapped an Islamic organization, which was accidentally sent a copy of the surveillance documents. The Obama administration, which inherited the case, is appealing the ruling.
Across the country in the next two weeks, we will be marking the 10th anniversary of the U.S. prison at Guantánamo with protests, film showings, talks, and benefits. We do this for:
171 prisoners still in Guantánamo, even though most were cleared for release by the Bush regime. Read about one: Holiday Thoughts for Omar Khadr, Still Held at Guantanamo by Andy Worthington.
By Associated Press
Most major Occupy encampments have been dispersed, but they live on in a flurry of lawsuits in which protesters are asserting their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly and challenging authorities’ mass arrests and use of force to break up tent cities.
Lawyers representing protesters have filed lawsuits — or are planning them — in state and federal courts from coast to coast, challenging eviction orders and what they call heavy-handed police tactics and the banning of demonstrators from public properties.
Some say the fundamental right of protest has been criminalized in places, with protesters facing arrest and charges while doing nothing more than exercising protected rights to demonstrate.
Montanans Launch Recall of Senators Who Approved NDAA Military Detention. Merry Christmas, US Senate.
Disclaimer: I am now a volunteer press contact for this campaign.
From the press release (last revised 12/28/2011):
Moving quickly on Christmas Day after the US Senate voted 86 - 14 to pass the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 (NDAA) which allows for the indefinite military detention of American citizens without charge or trial, Montanans have announced the launch of recall campaigns against Senators Max Baucus and Jonathan Tester, and Congressman Denny Reberg, who all voted for the bill.
19 December 2011 - Almost two-thirds of countries asked by human rights groups about their involvement in extraordinary rendition flights have failed to comply with freedom of information requests – with European nations in particular accused of withholding evidence of the controversial CIA programme.
Was the Attack on Pakistani Outposts Deliberate?: How Far Will the US Go to Target Pakistan's Military?
By Shaukat Qadir
This past June I posted an article by Anatol Lieven on Facebook. For those who are not familiar with his name, Anatol is from the UK and numbers among the few journalists whom I always enjoy reading. I have met Anatol a few times and he is the kind of person who likes to get acquainted with the psycho-social environment of the people he writes about. Written in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s execution, Anatol’s article was critical of the US approach to the region, particularly Pakistan.
December 14, 2011 - One by one, the Marines sat down, swore to tell the truth and began to give secret interviews discussing one of the most horrific episodes of America’s time in Iraq: the 2005 massacre by Marines of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha.
“I mean, whether it’s a result of our action or other action, you know, discovering 20 bodies, throats slit, 20 bodies, you know, beheaded, 20 bodies here, 20 bodies there,” Col. Thomas Cariker, a commander in Anbar Province at the time, told investigators as he described the chaos of Iraq.
Local Newspaper The Hook Makes Me Runner Up Person of Year for Chasing Dick Cheney Away - Gotta Love Charlottesville
When conservatives hear progressive political activist David Swanson coming, they might want to run away. But sometimes, they do so quite literally. After Vice President Dick Cheney announced plans to speak at the Miller Center on November 16, Swanson publicly called for Cheney's arrest for conspiracy to commit torture. "Were a local resident credibly accused of torture, I sincerely doubt you would hesitate to seek his or her immediate arrest and indictment," Swanson wrote in a November 14 letter emailed to Charlottesville and Albemarle law enforcement and posted on his website, warisacrime.org. Mere hours later, the Miller Center announced that Cheney's visit would be postponed for "personal reasons" and that he'd reschedule for early next year. Coincidence? Perhaps. But either way, Swanson will undoubtedly lead the welcome parade if the former Veep appears.
No Execution for Mumia: 30 Years after a Police Shooting, Abu-Jamal Backers Vow to Free Him from Life in Prison
By Dave Lindorff
The mood was both celebratory and angry among a 1000-plus overflow audience packed into the balcony space of the Constitution Center in Philadelphia on the evening of Dec. 9.
The crowd of supporters of Philadelphia journalist and black political activist Mumia Abu-Jamal had come to denounce the over 29 years that he has spent locked in solitary confinement on Pennsylvania’s grim death row since his conviction for the shooting of a white police officer, Daniel Faulkner. But they were also there to celebrate the surprise decision, announced two days earlier by Philadelphia DA Seth Williams, not to seek to reinstate Abu-Jamal’s death sentence, which had been permanently vacated by a recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.