Politics and Injustice in Philadelphia
TV Damsel's Rights Trump Death Row Inmate's
By LINN WASHINGTON, Jr.
(reprinted with permission from author)
Larry Mendte and Mumia Abu-Jamal.
These are two names you won’t see in the same sentence in most newspapers for obvious reasons.
One is a disgraced TV news anchor in Philadelphia and the other is a death row inmate from the same city – seemingly different as left-&-right, black-&-white, and…well, you get the point.
Yet, in a strange but true way, Mendte and Mumia share different sides of a similar coin beyond both Philadelphia journalists being in the news during the same week in July 2008.
On July 21, federal prosecutors in Philadelphia indicted Mendte for illegally hacking into email accounts of his one-time co-anchor at Philadelphia’s CBS3 television station, Alycia Lane – a now former ‘news reader’ as Europeans more accurately identify the position Americans call anchor persons.
Beyond the alleged US Crime Code violation of intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization – 537 emails invasions during just one few month period – something particular put federal prosecutors into a peculiar froth about Mendte’s mendacious efforts to dig dirt on a declared rival.
Mendte’s [alleged] invasion of Lane’s email accounts included piercing something lawyers deem important: privacy of attorney-client communication.
Mendte’s [alleged] invasion pried into communications Lane’s lawyers sent her via email in civil and criminal matters. Mendte not only personally perused these private attorney-client communications – he [allegedly] leaked the contents of the pilfered emails to a local reporter who published the information.
According to the federal indictment, these attorney-client emails involved matters related to Lane suing CBS3 for wrongfully firing her months ago…after a series of headline generating scandal incidents by her including fighting with a New York City policewoman where she [allegedly] slurred that cop with a derogatory sexual-orientation reference.
These attorney-client emails, the indictment states, involved matters related to a sweet-heart plea deal NYC prosecutors gave Lane arising from that December 2006 arrest where Lane [allegedly] scuffled with that NYPD policewoman. And these emails Mendte [allegedly] read and leaked involved legal action Lane planned against NYC for that arrest…where she received an arrest record-clearing, wrist-slap six months probation program for [alleged] conduct that has led NYPD officers to kill non-whites.
Concerning email leaks related to that plea deal, the federal indictment of Mendte declared, “it was important to the completion of those negotiations that the discussions…remain confidential.”
One news account of the press conference announcing Mendte’s indictment noted that a top federal prosecutor referenced the importance of privacy protections for attorney-client communications four times in the first four minutes of her presentation.