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A Reform to Reduce the Number of Black Men in Prison: Don't Let Them Represent Themselves In Court
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March 10, 2015, 06:13 PM
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As you may recall, as part of the Obama Coalition’s hunt for the Hispanic Trayvon Martin / Michael Brown, last month the New York Times headlined Killing in Washington State Offers ‘Ferguson’ Moment for Hispanics” about a police shooting in Pasco, Washington, conveniently located 2709 miles from the New York Times Building. Perhaps coincidentally, Benjamin Crump, attorney in the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases is involved.

A friend was looking for more Pasco news and stumbled upon this story from the local newspaper involving a different Pasco case:

Court-appointed attorney removed from Pasco murder case after suspect files motion

BY KRISTIN M. KRAEMER

Tri-City Herald March 6, 2015

A defense lawyer was removed from a Pasco murder case Friday after his client filed a motion claiming a court-appointed attorney is obliged to lie.

Kenyatta K.E. Bridges’s trial was to begin Monday , but that won’t happen now that a new attorney must get up to speed on the 3-month-old case. …

“The court has found that it will be a conflict (of interest) for Mr. Johnson to continue as your attorney,” she told Bridges.

Bridges is charged in the Dec. 3 fatal shooting of a 22-year-old man in the Stonegate Apartments parking lot.

Prosecutors allege he was involved in luring Lorenzo “Richie” Fernandez Jr. to the scene, was armed with a gun as Fernandez was killed — though he did not fire any shots — and fled with the suspected shooter.

Charges against Bridges were amended earlier this week in Franklin County Superior Court to include first-degree murder while he or an accomplice was armed with a deadly weapon; conspiracy; and second-degree unlawful possession of a gun. …

Bridges described himself as the “alleged accused” and a “layman” in his motion, which was filed with the Franklin County Clerk’s Office late Thursday morning. The two-page, handwritten document was titled, “Motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and fraud, and without courts appointed attorney who is compelled to lie.”

… In his motion, Bridges called the state of Washington a “fictitious plaintiff” because to have “a criminal case there must be a bonafied (sic) contract. No contract, no case, no plaintiff. Case is a fraud.”

He said the Supreme Court should have original jurisdiction.

The motion also twice stated, “The Blackman is God!”

Bridges was referring to Allah’s Five Percenters or Nation of Gods and Earths. The group, founded about 50 years ago, reportedly teaches that black people are the original people of the planet and, instead of believing in a mystery God, that the “Blackman” is God and his proper name is Allah.

We hear a lot these days about how we must reduce the number of black men in prison. Here is a reform that I think would reduce the number of black men thrown into prison for extra-long terms by judges and juries: don’t let megalomaniacal black guys with two digit IQs and poor spelling fire their court-appointed attorneys and represent themselves, because they often wind up getting longer terms from annoyed juries and judges.

My wife was on a jury once in the trial of an “aspiring rapper” for welfare fraud for collecting welfare for his children while they lived with his parents. But he appeared to be spending most of the welfare checks on his kids, and he didn’t have any history of violence (he seemed more histrionic than thuggish, and if he didn’t have a couple of kids you’d probably guess he was gay), so an adept attorney probably could have plea-bargained him off with a light sentence.

However, craving his moment in the spotlight, the defendant had fired his court-appointed attorney and conducted his entire defense himself, which prominently featured cross-examining his mother over various grievances he had with her going back to childhood. The judge kept trying to remind the defendant that the jury was there to determine his guilt or innocence, not to render judgment on his mother.

The jury was outraged over having to sit through this sub-reality TV for a week and a half and wanted to instantly return a verdict that the defendant should be sentenced to about life plus 500 years.

My wife made her fellow jurors laboriously go through each charge in detail. And sure enough, he was guilty as sin, although the jury probably would have let him off on some of the counts if he had had a professional attorney. Thus, he’ll be in jail longer because he chose to represent himself.

So, if you want to reduce extremely long sentences don’t let egomaniacal black men fire their court-appointed attorneys.

Bridges likely will get another court-appointed attorney, unless his family can hire someone….

The Office of Public Defense only has four attorneys under contract for the homicide defense panel, so Sheridan said indigent defense coordinator Eric Hsu will have to find another lawyer after he returns to the office Tuesday.

Hey, I know a famous Florida attorney who just happens to be planning to spend time in Pasco, WA on a different case, and thus ought to take this case pro bono: Benjamin Crump.

Synergy!