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General News    H3'ed 3/7/09

Framed by the FBI: A dozen reasons the 'Omaha Two' deserve a new trial (6 of 6)

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The appellate court ordered Mondo we Langa to be freed or retried, bringing the total to four federal judges that closely examined the case and ordered a new trial.


The prosecution appealed to the United States Supreme Court which agreed to hear the case consolidating it with another murder case, Stone v. Powell.  Unfortunately for Mondo we Langa the careful scrutiny of the facts of his case was over.  Mondo was now just a pressure point in an effort to roll back civil liberty decisions of the Warren Court.

Time magazine called the case, "important" and described the jockeying of the justices in the campaign over rights of criminal defendants.  Authors Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong discuss the case in their book, The Brethren. 

"To Burger [Chief Justice Warren Burger], these seemed perfect cases: two murderers were trying to overturn their convictions by raising technical Fourth Amendment claims.  After the highest states had rejected their claims, the men had appealed to the federal courts.  Under the Constitution, any state prisoner has a right to petition the federal courts for a writ of habeas corpus, which required the state to show that the imprisonment did not violate the federal Constitution."


"Burger had long wanted to cut off habeas petitions on Fourth Amendment claims.  He believed they were almost always frivolous, and they clogged the federal courts.  To preclude such petitions--and to overrule an important Warren Court precedent--would be a major victory."


The Supreme Court refused to hear the merits of the case and returned Mondo we Langa to state court where the outcome was already foreshadowed.


Four federal judges ordered a new trial for Mondo yet it never was granted and he has remained in maximum-security imprisonment all these long years, the victim of both J. Edgar Hoover and Warren Burger's political agendas.


The Nebraska Supreme Court now has Ed Poindexter's request for a new trial pending.  No date for a decision has been announced.




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Michael Richardson is a freelance writer living in Belize. Richardson writes about Taiwan foreign policy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Black Panther Party. Richardson was Ralph Nader's ballot access manager during the 2004 and (more...)

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