Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Racial Injustice of Prosecutor's Removing All Black Afrikans from Jury after Special Hearing to Have Black Afrikans on Jury

The following was posted to the Michigan Bar Criminal Law Mailing List on March 23:

Subject: [SBM Criminal Law] Racial Injustice of Prosecutor's Removing All Black Afrikans from Jury after Special Hearing to Have Black Afrikans on Jury Rev Pinkney's Case

Berrien County known for its racism against Black Afrikans and place of recent rebellion against Racist Police Brutality against Black Afrikans - now has claimed another victim Black Afrikan Rev Pinkney was convicted by an all White European-American Jury after a special hearing to place Black Afrikans on the jury - The Prosecutor had all Black Afrikans removed from the jury - Racist Inequality against Black Afrikans
Carl C Wilson Jr P48450
Legal Aid & Defender Association

Pan-African News Wire: Dark Days in Benton Harbor

Dark Days in Benton Harbor:
An Analysis of the Pinkney Trial and the Movement Ahead

Monday, March 26, 2007

Analysis of Pinkney Trial and the Movement Ahead

If you want to help by writing a letter in support of Rev. Pinkney, instructions can be found near the end of this message. Please forward this message all over the country and the planet. Anyone and everyone can help. This is one of the most important class/corporate struggles in the US. And media will not touch it.

Analysis of Pinkney Trial and the Movement Ahead

On March 21, 2007 (when day and night are equal), justice in Berrien County, Michigan, took a big step backwards into the darkness of fear and bigotry when an all-white jury convicted a black community activist, Reverend Edward Pinkney, of five counts of improprieties in connection with a 2005 recall election involving the City of Benton Harbor's most powerful commissioner.

The facts and the history are stark. Benton Harbor is ninety-four percent (94%) black, ninety percent (90%) poor and seventy percent (70%) unemployed. It is directly across the river from affluent and practically all-white St. Joseph, Michigan, the world headquarters of the Whirlpool Corporation. Benton Harbor is still the largest city in the county and was once the site of most of the county's governmental functions, including the Federal building. But, as industrial stagnation and flight increasingly gripped the area and the St. Joseph/Lake Michigan coastline was increasingly dominated by the tourist economy, Benton Harbor has been systematically drained of any economic vitality. Its citizens are unwelcome in other parts of the county and the criminal justice system operates to arrest, imprison, intimidate, control and marginalize them. Benton Harbor's governmental and educational institutions are characterized by infighting and petty corruption.

The City festered in that condition until the summer of 2003, when the police killing of a young black man erupted into a short and destructive outburst of rebellious anger. Pinkney helped keep the peace. Public officials poured in to deplore Benton Harbor's conditions and promised that something would be done. Nothing was. Progressive and radical organizations also went to Benton Harbor and linked up with the local community.

The Reverend Edward Pinkney, working in cooperation with his wife, Dorothy, had affiliated with BANCO (Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizations) and had meetings in Benton Harbor. By the time of the 2003 rebellion, Pinkney was publicly identified as the leader of the disadvantaged and dissident community in Benton Harbor, based in large part on his daily presence at the Berrien County courthouse. He exposed what he saw as the inherent racism of the criminal justice system and the willful inadequacy of the defense provided to the poor (mostly) black defendants. Pinkney picketed the courthouse and the local newspaper, openly naming individuals he believed to be involved in corrupt and racist practices.

In the fall of 2003, in a notorious incident, the Benton Harbor Chief of Police (who was not a certified law enforcement officer or licensed to carry a gun), fired into the air in order to disperse a group of black youths who had gathered on a corner. Despite the fact that both the possession and the use of the gun were illegal under state and local law, nothing was done. Pinkney led protests. The primary protector of the Police Chief was a City Commissioner named Glen Yarbrough, who was and is the most powerful political figure in Benton Harbor.

Although the transition of Berrien County from an industrial to a tourist, real estate and service-based economy increasingly isolated Benton Harbor, it sits on some very valuable real estate on the St. Joseph River. In 2003-2004, the former CEO of Whirlpool began advocating a development plan for what was projected to become a five hundred million dollar ($500,000,000) marina/residential/golf course complex, which would take four hundred sixty five (465) acres of Benton Harbor. It would take the City's only beach and the City would be paid less than a million dollars ($1,000,000) for the property. Ultimately, it is projected that the land will be detached from the City and put in the more-white adjoining township. BANCO and Pinkney opposed this development because it would do nothing for the poor and permanently deprive the City of some of its potentially greatest assets. Commissioner Yarbrough was the key local politician supporting the plan.

In the fall of 2004, Pinkney and BANCO circulated recall petitions for Yarbrough, using his failure to discipline the Police Chief as the reason. Once the recall election was put on the ballot for February 2005, Pinkney used his grassroots and BANCO network to get out the absentee vote. He knew that, with his limited resources, he could never hope to compete with the Yarbrough "machine" on Election Day.

Pinkney was successful. There was a forty-two percent (42%) absentee voter rate and Yarbrough lost the recall by fifty-four (54) votes.

Yarbrough immediately swung into action. He went to the County Clerk complaining about the absentee votes. She referred him to the Prosecutor, who personally called the Sheriff to have an investigation opened. Within days, Yarbrough had "found" a young man named Mancel Williams, who alleged that Pinkney paid him $5.00 to vote for the recall. A week later the same Mancel Williams went to City Commissioner Etta Harper and made a tape recording, indicating that Yarbrough had paid him $10.00 to claim that Pinkney had paid him $5.00. The tape was turned over to Mayor Wilce Cook, who turned it over to the Benton Harbor Police. Nothing happened. The County Sheriff's investigation did not mention it. Mancel Williams is in prison on another charge and has refused to testify for either side, fearing retaliation by the police and prosecutor.

Brenda Fox, a drug-user and prostitute whom Pinkney had helped in the past, was interviewed by the police, who were working off the absentee voter list. The day before the election, she had volunteered to go to the local soup kitchen and recruit 10-15 people for $5.00 each to pass out leaflets about the election the next day. It turned out that a number of the clients of the soup kitchen were registered to vote and wanted to do so. They went to the Clerk's Office, got absentee ballots and voted. Brenda Fox, under pressure, claimed that Pinkney had told her to pay them $5.00 to vote against Yarbrough and make sure that they did so. She was given immunity from prosecution. None of the people who supposedly got paid to vote admitted it or testified against Pinkney. A number of witnesses denied the $5-a-vote claim by Brenda Fox, supporting Pinkney. They passed out fliers.

But Brenda Fox's most important task was to testify in the lawsuit filed by the Prosecutor against the City Clerk to set aside the recall. The City refused to defend her. Although there was not enough evidence to invalidate 54 votes, a local judge, now nominated by George Bush to the Federal bench in Western Michigan, ordered a new election.

The clerk lost her job. The next day the Prosecutor arrested Pinkney for voter fraud and hit him with a $100,000 bond. Although Pinkney's bond was reduced and he was later released, Yarbrough was reinstated to the Commission in the second recall election. Obviously Pinkney, facing charges and with his supporters intimidated, still campaigned valiantly but was unable to overcome the resources poured in by the local establishment. The vote was down and Yarbrough won by 40.

For three days after she testified in the election lawsuit, Brenda Fox holed up in her apartment sending people out for drugs and alcohol, indicating that the money came from testifying against Pinkney. She told one witness, Douglas Bragg, that he was the only one not getting paid to testify against Pinkney. A year later, Bragg saw her get picked up for prostitution by the Benton Harbor Police and then dropped off 20 minutes later. She said that she did not have to worry about the police as long as she was testifying against Pinkney. The Judge refused to let most of that evidence into the trial.

In Pinkney's most recent trial, Brenda Fox, under questioning by one of Pinkney's lawyers, Elliott Hall (former counsel to the Detroit NAACP, Vice-President of Ford Motor Company and Chief Assistant of Wayne County Prosecutor), broke down completely on the stand, began crying and could not go on. She was described by Hugh [Buck] Davis (a veteran civil rights lawyer) as incredible as any witness he had seen in 38 years. Davis told the jury in closing argument, "You couldn't send a dog to the pound on the testimony of Brenda Fox."

Nevertheless, the all white jury convicted Pinkney of paying for and influencing votes through Brenda Fox, shocking the audience and arguably surprising even the Prosecutor. When the jury convicted Pinkney on the false vote counts based on the testimony of Brenda Fox, Davis commented that the willingness of the jury to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt relying on her testimony was an indication that they violated the sanctity of their oath and were motivated by something other than the pursuit of truth and justice.

But the most dangerous charges against Pinkney did not concern corruptly buying or influencing votes, but simply inadvertently having possession of an absentee ballot (voted or unvoted) of a person who was not a family member or a member of his immediate household. The Michigan Legislature passed that new law in 1995. In essence, it is a "gotcha" law. The mere allegation that an individual handled an absentee ballot (even with no bad intent or evidence of tampering) is a five (5) year felony. The Prosecutor brought three (3) such charges against Pinkney, giving the jury the option of eight (8) different voters who claimed they turned their ballots over to Pinkney.

Pinkney admitted that he gave those voters stamps and address labels to mail their ballots, but did not handle them. He knew that they were so poor that they might not have postage. The Prosecutor admitted that Pinkney gave them the stamps. The defense asked, "If Pinkney was going to take the ballots, why give them stamps?"

In the first trial in March 2006, Tat Parish (an able and progressive Berrien County attorney) represented Pinkney. There were two (2) blacks on the jury. The jury hung on all five (5) counts.

Given the fact that the Prosecutor had already set aside the election, gotten Yarbrough back in office and gotten rid of a City Clerk believed to be friendly to Pinkney, they might have been satisfied. But Pinkney's militance and outspoken opposition to the administration in Benton Harbor and to the proposed "Harbor Shores" development required that he be distracted by having to continue to defend himself and, if possible, removed as a leader.

Defense attorneys, Hall and Davis, long associates in civil rights cases in Detroit, volunteered for the second trial as a National Lawyers Guild project. Pinkney inspired substantial publicity and support, particularly in Michigan, but also nationally. Timothy Holloway (an appellate specialist) also volunteered and wrote a motion and brief attacking the "possession of an absentee ballot" statute on the grounds that it is unconstitutional to create a strict liability felony where the act itself is only handling someone's ballot without tampering and without knowledge or bad intent. The Judge denied the motion. Pinkney attempted to appeal before trial. The Court of Appeals would not hear the case. It is now one of the major issues on appeal.

Secondarily, Pinkney had complained for years about the systematic exclusion and under-representation of black jurors in the Berrien County court system. Pinkney, several of his courthouse observers and his original attorney filed affidavits indicating that out of an average panel of potential jurors, rarely were more than 2 or 3 minorities among them (3-5%). Frequently, there were none.

Berrien County is 15.5% black. The statistical disparity is constitutionally significant and presents a case for systematic racial exclusion, whether intentional or not. Wayne Bentley, a Jury Commissioner in Kent County (Grand Rapids, Michigan) who has helped reform the jury system there, agreed to act as an expert. Approximately 100,000 jury questionnaires from the last three years were obtained and an evidentiary hearing was held the week before the trial. There, Bentley explained the ways in which the jury system resulted in the systematic under representation of minorities:

1. Failure to use up-to-date address lists (statistically, poor and black people in Benton Harbor move more);
2. Failure to send follow-up letters for undelivered or unreturned questionnaires;
3. Failure to follow-up on summonses to appear for jury duty;
4. Treating anyone with a temporary medical problem or with a handicap as permanently disqualified (the medical problem/handicap rate in Benton Harbor is 47%);
5. Treating one-time absentee voters as permanent exemptions.

The Clerk testified without any documentation, that approximately 6 out of every 45 potential jurors in the pools were black, bringing the percentage to a constitutionally permissible 12-13 percent. In fact, she testified that there were 6 blacks in the jury pool called for that very day, March 6, 2007. Unfortunately for the Clerk, Pinkney's court-watchers were in the hall when that panel was escorted to another courtroom. There were indeed 45 potential jurors, but only 2 of them were black (4%). Their affidavits were filed with Pinkney's Judge, alleging perjury by the Clerk. He ignored them. He denied the jury challenge on the first day of the trial, but by the end of the trial had not issued a written opinion. That will be another basis for the appeal.

When Pinkney's second jury turned out to be all white, there was some hope that the liberal sentiments of the white community to defend the rights of minorities could be aroused. But the jury was clearly intimidated by the large numbers of Pinkney supporters in the courtroom and around the courthouse, most of them obviously poor. A posting to the BANCO website from a supporter was monitored by the authorities. The e-mailer regretted that he had been out of town during the first part of the trial and commented that the white judge and prosecutor would eventually "go down." It was treated as a threat and turned over to the police.

Midway through the trial, the Judge locked the courtroom to spectators, who could only come in before the session began or on break. A juror reported that she thought she had seen an illegal transaction take place in the parking lot between one of Pinkney's lawyers and one of his witnesses and supporters (the lawyer gave him a cigarette). Security was increasingly beefed up. The jury wanted to make sure that Pinkney's lawyers did not have their jury questionnaires. They were returned before the verdict.

The effect of all of the above was to make the jury even more afraid and suspicious of blacks in Benton Harbor in general and of Pinkney and his supporters in particular. Their reaction was to retreat into the sort of blind desire to uphold the system as in the South, where a black man's word meant nothing, regardless of how obviously false and fabricated the evidence against him.

But it should also be pointed out that these jurors were ordinary working class and middle class whites, themselves on the edge of economic insecurity. As the economy of Berrien County continues to decline, they needed to believe that what has happened to Benton Harbor will not happen to them. They needed to believe that what is good for Whirlpool is good for them. They needed to believe that somehow the "Harbor Shores" development for rich people from somewhere else will be good for them. They failed to understand that they are one layoff, one injury or one illness from needing the same social services as the people in Benton Harbor. They failed to understand that the campaign for universal health care, education, productive jobs, limited development, protection of the environment, etc., can only be achieved when they unite around the protection of the poorest and most dispossessed, as opposed to running away from the obvious horror of life in Benton Harbor.

Pinkney's sentencing is May 14, 2007, at 1:30 p.m. Between now and then, all fair-minded individuals, particularly those who have had the privilege to meet Reverend Pinkney or follow his work, should write letters of support.

THEY SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO: The Honorable Alfred M. Butzbaugh, Berrien County Circuit Court, 811 Port Street, St. Joseph, Michigan, 49085-1187, regarding the case of People v. Reverend Edward Pinkney.

BUT THEY SHOULD BE SENT TO: Hugh M. Davis, Constitutional Litigation Associates, P.C., 450 West Fort Street, Suite 200, Detroit, Michigan, 48226. Phone: 313-961-2255; Fax: 313-961-5999; email: conlitpc@sbcglobal.net

The purpose of the letter is not to accuse the Judge, the Prosecutor or even the jury of being racist, but rather to point out how distressing and suspicious it is that an all white jury would sit in judgment of a black community activist, 50 years after the high point of the civil rights movement. Also, emphasize the nature of Reverend Pinkney's work, how important it is that we have dissident voices in every community and that free speech must be protected. The letters should also indicate that, no matter what view one takes of the evidence against Pinkney, the worst that he did was innocently handle some ballots and become the victim of the testimony of some very shady characters, particularly including Brenda Fox. Tell the Judge that prison is NOT the place for a person like Pinkney, but that he is needed in the community, whether one agrees with him or not. Tell the Judge that the prisons are already filled up with too many black men and are already too much of a drain on the state and local economies. Tell the Judge that prison should be reserved for only dangerous and violent individuals who have to be removed from society. That is clearly not Reverend Pinkney.

Finally, everyone should personalize their letter and, if you have any direct experience with Reverend Pinkney, describe it – what he did, how he helped, what you saw and whether he got any personal gain out of it.

The last important issue is bond pending appeal. Pinkney's attorneys intend to push hard on the validity of the statute and on the denial of the jury challenge. Those efforts could take years. Let the Judge know that you believe that Reverend Pinkney should not be required to serve a sentence, even a short one, when these serious issues are still undecided on appeal. Since it is the Judge himself whose decisions are being challenged, he should not presume the outcome by refusing Pinkney bond.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Rev. Edward Pinkney Convicted in St. Joseph, Michigan

To the disbelief of supporters, Rev. Edward Pinkney -- a courageous community leader who has dedicated his life to the defense of the poor -- was found guilty of all 5 charges on March 21.

He faces twenty years in prison. A white Judge, prosecutor, and jury convicted Rev. Pinkney. The jury deliberations in this travesty of justice lasted less than seven hours. The charges are:

1 - Influencing voters with money
2 - Influencing voters while voting
3 - Possession of Danielle William's absentee ballot
4 - Possession of Rosie Miles's absentee ballot
5 - Possession of LaToya William's absentee ballot

This conviction was made possible by a biased jury -- and the corrupt Judge, courts, police, and prosecution who were out to get Rev. Pinkney. Berrien County has a long history of 'doing what it wants' and what it wants is what Whirlpool wants. The court system is set up to keep the corruption and power structure in place and the people down.

Prior to the trial, challenges were made to the jury selection process which disproportionately eliminates Blacks from the jury pool, but the Judge denied the motion. As a result, the prosecution's first victory came when an all-white, middle-class jury was selected.

There were many other examples of 'how things are done in Berrien County.' The Judge over-ruled most defense objections, but allowed the prosecution's. Most prosecution witnesses were poor young women who undoubtedly feared a vicious police department which is known to beat and arrest the Benton Harbor poor at will even though they were promised immunity. The conviction was based largely on the testimony of one witness who contradicted herself on the stand. Defense lawyers said they 'wouldn't put a dog in a pound on her testimony.'

Glenn Yarbrough, the corrupt County Commissioner who was ousted in the contested recall election took the stand but the Judge refused to allow certain testimony necessary for the defense's case. When jurists asked why the courtroom doors were locked, the Judge lied, telling jurists that this was standard procedure. In fact, the doors had not been locked in the previous trial nor were any other courtroom doors locked in the Berrien County courthouse. They were locked to keep people from seeing what was going on. During the closing arguments of the defense, the judge allowed the prosecution to object to the defense's conclusions further tainting the jury's perceptions.

The system of justice is broken in Berrien County. We must gather our forces together and fight forward. This struggle is about whether we're going to have democracy or fascism and should be of concern to every American. Rev. Pinkney is standing strong and is planning his appeal. He will also be filing civil law suits against several witnesses and the jury. Money and support will be urgently needed.

Appeal for support for Rev. Pinkney from Marian Kramer

Dear Friends,

Rev. Pinkney needs our support NOW. Please don't wait until the trial is over before you get a letter to the Gov. Jennifer M.Granholm, P.O. Box 30013, Lansing, Michigan 48909, Phone: (517) 373-3400 or (517) 335-7858 (constituent), Fax: (517-335-6863 or email: http://www.michigan.gov/gov. YOU MUST LET HER KNOW TO GET THE JUDGE TO DROP THE CHARGES AND FREE REV. PINKNEY. We asked her when she was asking for our vote to get the charges drop on Rev. Pinkney and that the situation in Benton Harbor should be investigated. We have not heard from her. But Whirlpool and being the owner of the Benton Harbor Plantation.

We must let her know that the jury is all white, any jury candidate that was poor could not afford to take the time out to be on the jury for two weeks and they were eliminated. The Judge has been locking the doors to the courtroom, once the trial begins. The Judge is the real proscutor and the proscutor is only the window dressing. We must get involved to protect Rev. Pinkney in order to protect ourselves. Call, write, email your congessional people in Washington, D.C., Representatives, Sentors and Governor in Michigan to get the charges dropped.

We need to get donations into BANCO to support the fight to free Rev. Pinkney. All Rev. Pinkney did was exercise his human rights through a "Recall Campaign" of one of the County Commissioners, who represents Whirlpool, the Benton Harbor Plantation. What is the next attack on our Human Rights?

Please email your contacts and raise the situation in Benton Harbor. Let us hear you around the country, protesting the attack on Rev. Pinkney in Benton Harbor.

Please get involved. When you help Rev. Pinkney, you are helping yourself.

Marian Kramer, National Welfare Rights Union

Week 2 - Day 6 (Tues.): Pinkney's Re-Trial

Closing Arguments Wednesday (tomorrow)! 9am.

Today in court differed little from other days as far as court procedure. Rev. Pinkney's Attorneys Hall and Davis kept trying to ask pertinent questions of the defense witnesses, and Judge Butzbaugh kept blocking them with the same reasons as relevance, meeting the standards of evidence, etc. He told Attorney Davis at the beginning of the day to: "Cool It Down."

Every time Hall, Davis, or a witness mentioned "Glenn Yarbrough", the judge stopped them before the name was fully pronounced. Mr. Yarbrough is pivotal to the case, and yet he cannot be discussed at all. (Keep in mind that yesterday the judge asked the jury to leave when Hall and Davis began to ask pertinent questions of Yarbrough - the only time he has been in the courtroom during the entire trial.

The courtroom was filled this afternoon with spectators and inside the locked doors stood two county sheriff officers. Pure intimidation sending out the message to the jury that we are all dangerous criminals.

The prosecutor in his frustration went fishing for anything from Rev. and Mrs. Pinkney as they took the stand. He tried intimidation by raising his voice a sarcastic tone, and other tactics to try anyones' patience hoping they would respond angrily.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Week 2 - Monday: Pinkney's Re-Trail

Attorney unsuccessfully attempted to question Glenn
Yarbrough on the stand concerning his pay-off of
witnesses. The judge sent the jury out and then argued
that he didn't see how this was relevant to the case
even though the same line of questioning was allowed
in the first trial.

The jury sent the question to be answered, "Why are
the courtroom doors locked?" Judge Butzbaugh told
them that it was standard procedure and earlier they
had gotten lazy but now were doing it so no one was

Outside the courtroom Rev. Pinkney's supporters were
harassed by Glenn Yarbrough.

For the first time, possibly, in recorded history, a so-called
newspaper, the Herald Palladium of St. Joseph, has not
reported one word on a very high-profile trial which is in
it's second week. Just like locking the courtroom door.
How obvious does the county want to be in it's hiding of
this trial? What are they afraid the world will see?
When will state government do the right thing and stop
the unholy alliance of corporation (Whirlpool), government,
and media, and all the illegal acts which happen daily in
Berrien County to make that alliance strong? And able to
oppress the poor and drive them out? And ruin pristine
beaches and forests? And take a city from it's people?
And make people live under bridges in the middle of the winter?

* * * *

In order not to be locked out, you must be in the courtroom by 8:30.
There are breaks during the day, also, when you are allowed to enter.
But I've never heard of any judge anywhere ordering this lockdown.
It can only mean they are attempting to let the fewest number of people
possible see how they operate. Benton Harbor needs your support!

Thank you for considering attending. Court lasts until 4pm.
Berrien County Courthouse, 811 Port St., St. Joseph
Rev. Edward Pinkney, 269-925-0001

Legal fee donations to:
1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Day 4: Pinkney's Re-Trial

Today's aggravation was that the court removed the
seating just outside the courtroom and threatened the
audience with repercussions, claiming that one of us
was seen arguing loudly with a witness outside the
courtroom. They would evict that person responsible
and/or disallow the witness from testifying. Otherwise
it was a good day. Witnesses squirmed as they
tried to avoid answering the questions and rambled on
with extraneous information of their opinions. Judge
Butzbaugh continued to fail the enforcement of court
procedures and rules. The topping on the cake today
was the "whipping" received by witness Detective
Sergeant Dannefeldt. His testimony showed that he
simply followed an agenda of let's develop evidence to
convict me rather than find the truth. (separate report at end)

* * * *

Also, a group of supporters of justice will be sending Judge
Butzbaugh the following short letter as a result of the courtroom
being locked:

Honorable Judge Butzbaugh,

The citizens are requesting permission to enter the courtroom. The absence of written notification rationalizing the denial of courtroom observance by the public is representative of the secretive and unconstitutional nature of the court's proceedings, as described below.

1. Denial of the public's observance in relation to the aforementioned constitutional violation.
2. Unwarranted and irrational lockdown of courtroom proceedings; no public explanation posted or verbalized.

* * * *

In order not to be locked out, you must be in the courtroom by 8:30. There are breaks during the day, also, when you are allowed to enter. But I've never heard of any judge anywhere
ordering this lockdown. It can only mean they are attempting to let in the fewest number of people possible to see how they operate.
Thank you for considering attending next week, Mon. through Fri. (3/19 -3/23)
Berrien County Courthouse, 811 Port St., St. Joseph
Rev. Edward Pinkney, 269-925-0001
Legal fee donations to:
1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022

* * * *

The following is an excellent report of Day 2 (Wed.) of the Re-Trial.
We welcome more reports from this writer.

The trial of Rev. Pinkney -- 3/14/07

The trial of Reverend Edward Pinkney began today, Wednesday, March 14,
2007, following Judge Butzbaugh's decision to proceed with an all white
jury, despite objections posed by defense attorney Elliot Hall, who
alleged racial bias in the county's jury selection process.

In his opening remarks, prosecuting attorney Gerald Viganski recounted
the government's story of what happened around the 2005 recall election
of Glenn Yarbrough. As this fractured fairy tale will be familiar to
most readers, I will forego the details here.

In an opening statement for the defense, Elliot Hall introduced Rev.
Pinkney to the jury as a political activist, a dissident who saw
injustice and felt compelled to struggle against it. Hall compared Rev.
Pinkney to the founders of this country, who were also dissidents
determined to fight against a system which they saw as unjust,
demanding "no taxation without representation." Hall also made specific
mention of some of the injustices against which Rev. Pinkney was
struggling, including the selling off of prime Benton Harbor land for
peanuts by City Council. Though his statement was interrupted several
times (including by Glenn Yarbrough, who attempted to enter the
courtroom during Hall's remarks), Elliot Hall made a powerful
presentation that was sure to make an impression on the jury.

Over the course of the day, the prosecution called three witnesses to
the stand – Kimberly Thompson, Lisa Rollings, and Louise Stine.
Thompson and Rollings, both employees of the city clerk's office,
detailed irregularities in the February 2005 recall election. They
testified that the clerk's office did not follow proper procedures
during this election, as a result of which charges were brought against
the city clerk's office and Thompson and Rollings's supervisor was
fired. (Rev. Pinkney's other attorney, Hugh Davis, highlighted during
cross examination the fact that Thompson and Rollings might also have
lost their jobs in this scandal – a fact which may have encouraged them
to cooperate with the prosecution in this case.) Most of the
prosecution's time with these witnesses was wasted detailing irrelevant
details such as postage stamps and address labels. After Viganski
covered the same ground with County Clerk Louise Stine, she confirmed
during cross examination that no wrongdoing whatsoever could be
inferred from the irregularities surrounding mailing labels, postage
stamps and absentee ballots, about which the prosecution spent most of
the first day making loud noises.

The first day ended with a bizarre theatrical display, as Viganski and
Police Sgt. Dannefeld re-enacted the direct examination of a witness
from the first trial, now deceased. Hugh Davis also participated,
reading the part of Tat Parrish, Reverend Pinkney's attorney from the
first trial. The deceased witness was an employee of the soup kitchen
who claimed that Brenda Fox had promised five dollars for votes, but
confirmed that, as far as he knew, Rev. Pinkney had nothing to do with
these promises.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Day 3: Pinkney's Re-Trial

Judge Butzbaugh now has the court room LOCKED during
the sessions, therefore if the public wants to view
the trial they have to be IN the court room when court
begins at 8:30am. If one is late, they have to wait for the next
break to enter. The system really doesn't want us in
to see what is going on. The testimony was given by
the prosecution witnesses from the community including
some from the soup kitchen. One known drug addict left crying.
She had been asked, "Is it true that you've said you can do
anything you want in the street".

Thank you for considering attending -
Berrien County Courthouse, 811 Port St., St. Joseph
Rev. Edward Pinkney, 269-925-0001

Legal fee donations to:
1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Day 2: Pinkney's Re-Trial

City & county clerks were
questioned by prosecuting
and defense attys. Rev. P.'s
atty., Hugh Davis made quite
a few legal challenges and
established the ground work.

A former prosecutor's witness
from last year's trial died.
Testimony was read and put on

Rev. Pinkney stated afterwards:
"They did not win any points

Thank you for considering attending (begins 8:30am) -
Berrien County Courthouse, 811 Port St., St. Joseph
Rev. Edward Pinkney, 269-925-0001

Legal fee donations to:
1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Re-Trial - Day 1

Rev. Pinkney's attys'. motion for a jury of
one's peers was denied by the Berrien County

The public was not allowed in the courtroom
where jury selection was taking place, but was
ushered to an upstairs room for video viewing.

Not only were they not able to view the
jury box, but the sound and picture cut out
fairly often.

The jury pool was 70+.

Rev. Pinkney's re-trial begins tomorrow, may
last 2 weeks, and has an all white jury.

Thank you for considering attending (begins 8:30am) -
Rev. Edward Pinkney, 269-925-0001

Legal fee donations to:
1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Pinkney Re-Trial Begins Tues. March 13

On February 26, 2007 I drove to Lansing with a group
of supporters and filed a complaint with the FBI against
Berrien County Sherrif's Dept. Sgt. Detective Dannefelt
who bribed 3 witnesses during my trial last year which
ended in a hung jury.

March 6th there will be an evidentiary hearing at the
Berrien County Courthouse at 8:30 AM for the
presentation of the findings for the challenge, filed
in an earlier motion (January 25), that minorities are
systematically underrepresented on Berrien County
juries. The racial composition of juries in Berrien
County are rarely more than 1 in 30 potential jurors
Black, although Blacks are 15.5% of the population
of the county. The Judge did not release the tens of
thousands of jury ques­tionnaires from the last three
years to analyze statistically the racial composition
of the juries in Berrien County until February 16th.
Judge Butzbaugh should rule that a delay for my
trial is in order until the system can be fixed and
that there is adequate representation of Blacks on
the Berrien County juries. Judge Butzbaugh, however,
has already stated that the trial will go on as

Important: The Berrien County Prosecutors will hold
my re-trial beginning on Tuesday March 13, 2007, 8:45am.
Please attend if you can.

Thank you for your consideration,
Rev. Edward Pinkney, 269-925-0001

Legal fee donations to:
1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022