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SF8 Updates

February 10, 2008

Six Out on Bail

Francisco Torres was freed on bail September 21! He is the last of those eligible for bail. Hank Jones was freed on bail September 18. Harold Taylor was freed on bail September 12. Ray Boudreaux was freed on bail September 11. Richard O’Neal was freed on bail Wednesday, August 29 and Richard Brown was freed on bail Thursday, August 30.

Unfortunately, neither Herman Bell nor Jalil Muntaqim is eligible for bail even though they are both parole-eligible in New York State. Both have served over 30 years in various prisons for their political ideas, commitments and their participation in the Black Liberation Struggle.

Court Update: September 11

20 students from Met West high School in Oakland joined jubilant and now released SF8 defendants Richard Brown and Richard O’Neal and dozens of supporters in the hallway of the SF Courthouse. Many warm embraces were exchanged between the two Richards and supporters who had been corresponding and visiting them at the jail through glass and over jail phones.

Conspiracy Count Dropped against Five of the San Francisco Eight! On January 10, 2008, Judge Philip Moscone officially accepted an amended complaint by the prosecution in the San Francisco 8 trial today – in effect completely dropping charges against Richard O’Neal who was only charged with conspiracy. While he faces no further legal prosecution in the case, Richard was immediately served with a subpoena to testify at the preliminary hearing scheduled for April 21.

Conspiracy charges dropped due to statute of limitations: Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Hank Jones, and Harold Taylor are now accused only of the alleged murder in 1971 of SF Police Sergeant John Young. The conspiracy counts were dropped against all five brothers when defense motions correctly challenged the charges on the grounds that the statute of limitations on charges of conspiracy in California (three years) had expired. The conspiracy allegations include several acts alleged to have taken place from 1968 to 1973.

Next court date February 7: A new court date was scheduled for Thursday, February 7th when arguments will be made to drop the remaining conspiracy charges against Herman Bell, Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom) and Francisco Torres. The prosecution claims that because the three men were not in California the statute of limitations does not apply. “This is a ridiculous argument,” according to defense attorney Stuart Hanlon, “as these men were forcefully removed from the state against their will by being imprisoned. Following his acquittal on charges in New York State, Cisco Torres was living in New York City. All three were consistently available to California State prosecutors.”

Formal pleas a year later: Almost a year after they were charged and arrested, all eight of the brothers formally entered NOT GUILTY pleas to all of the charges.

This same case dropped in 1975: Former San Francisco District Attorney Thomas Norman was not available to testify at this hearing due to health issues. He was originally sought to explain why this same case was dropped in 1975 when he decided that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the case. So-called “confessions” made when several brothers were arrested, tortured, and forced to sign police-scripted statements were deemed inadmissible in the 1970s. Attempts to secure Norman’s complete notes and files will be made in time for the February 7th hearing.

Harold Taylor remains free on bail: California prosecutors re-raised a request to increase bail for Harold Taylor. Florida prosecutors filed charges in December against Taylor for the alleged purchase of a controlled substance. Judge Moscone was clear that although this was the case, the dropping of the conspiracy charges against him in San Francisco cancelled out the seriousness of the Florida matter – so bail will remain the same.

Growing support: A large crowd of San Francisco 8 supporters had to wait outside in the hallway of the San Francisco Courthouse today after police officers were given early access to seats in Judge Moscone’s court. The courtroom was nevertheless overwhelmingly packed with supporters and high energy as this major unraveling of the prosecution’s case unfolded. All of the brothers felt positive about the legal developments and the growing level of public support for them.

The government’s case is falling apart

This is a major victory in this case which rests on statements coerced under torture. “This is the first step in the government’s case falling apart,” Hanlon said.

Committee for the Defense of Human Rights

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