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New trial sought for SC boy, 14, executed in 1944 PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 21 January 2014 10:40

SUMTER, S.C. (AP) — A 14-year-old black boy executed nearly 70 years ago is finally getting another day in court, and his lawyers plan to argue Tuesday for a new trial, saying his conviction was tainted by the segregationist-era justice system and scant evidence.


George Stinney was found guilty in 1944 of killing two white girls, ages 7 and 11. The trial lasted less than a day in the tiny Southern mill town of Alcolu, separated, as most were in those days, by race.

Nearly all the evidence, including a confession that was central to the case against Stinney, has disappeared, along with the transcript of the trial. Lawyers working on behalf of Stinney's family have gathered new evidence, including sworn statements from his relatives accounting for his whereabouts the day the girls were killed and from a pathologist disputing the autopsy findings.

The novel decision of whether to give someone executed a new trial will be in the hands of Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen. Experts say it is a longshot. South Carolina law has a high bar to grant new trials. Also, the legal system in the state before segregation often found defendants guilty with evidence that would be considered scant today. If Mullen finds in favor of Stinney, it could open the door for hundreds of other appeals.

But the Stinney case is unique. At 14, he's the youngest person executed in the United States in the past 100 years. Even in 1944, there was an outcry over putting someone so young in the electric chair. Newspaper accounts said the straps in the chair didn't fit around his 95-pound body and an electrode was too big for his leg.

Stinney's supporters said racism, common in the Jim Crow era South, meant deputies in Clarendon County did little investigation after they decided Stinney was the prime suspect. They said he was pulled from his parents and interrogated without a lawyer.

School board member George Frierson heard stories about Stinney growing up in the same mill town he did, and he has spent a decade fighting to get him exonerated. He swallowed hard as he said he hardly slept Monday night.

"Somebody that didn't kill someone is finally getting his day in court," Frierson said.

In 1944, Stinney was likely the only black in the courtroom. On Tuesday, the prosecutor arguing against him will be Ernest "Chip" Finney III, the son of South Carolina's first black chief justice. Finney argued Tuesday there shouldn't be a new trial because the evidence was lost with the passage of time, not destroyed.

"Back in 1944, we should have known better, but we didn't," Finney said.

Finney has said he will conduct an investigation if a new trial is granted, but what that might find is not known. South Carolina did not have a statewide law enforcement unit to help smaller jurisdictions until 1947. Newspaper stories about Stinney's trial offer little clue whether any evidence was introduced beyond the teen's confession and an autopsy report. Some people around Alcolu said bloody clothes were taken from Stinney's home, but never introduced at trial because of his confession. No record of those clothes exists.

Relatives of one of the girls killed, 11-year-old Betty Binnicker, have recently spoke out as well, saying Stinney was known around town as a bully who threatened to fight or kill people who came too close to the grass where he grazed the family cow.

It isn't known if the judge will rule Tuesday, or take time to come to her decision. Stinney's supporters said if the motion for a new trial fails, they will ask the state to pardon him.

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 January 2014 22:06
Trayvon Martin's mother speaks out against racial profiling, calls for respect PDF Print E-mail
Written by Madeleine Brown   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 20:37

That's what was printed on the back of Dennis Barrett's shirt Thursday afternoon when he and his wife attended a discussion at the University of Utah about racial profiling.

Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's mother, was invited to speak and lead the discussion as part of the university's 30th annual celebration for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Fulton described herself an average person and said losing a son is not something she signed up for. But it was apparent she isn't average as she talked about her son and called for respect, action and an end to profiling.

"There should not become a time when we are comfortable with burying our children," Fulton said. "What happened many miles away in Sanford should be uncomfortable for you."

People who aren't looking for ways to improve the country and its communities are part of the problem, she said, adding that she's working to make Florida a better place.

On Feb. 26, 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, then 27. Martin was visiting his father, Tracy Martin, in Sanford, Fla., when he walked home from 7-Eleven through a gated community on a rainy night.

Zimmerman approached Trayvon Martin because the teenager looked suspicious, he later told police. He confronted the boy, who was unarmed, and shot him in the chest after a scuffle, police said.

Police said Florida's Stand Your Ground self-defense law kept them from bringing charges against Zimmerman, and he wasn't arrested for 44 days. The law says people acting in self-defense don't have to retreat before using force.

Trayvon Martin's parents said Zimmerman racially profiled their son and that the investigation was stalling because Martin was black. Zimmerman identifies as Hispanic.

"But is it the hoodie that really made the difference? Or the color of his skin?" Fulton asked. "And if by one second, just by one mere second, we think that it's the color of his skin, then something is wrong with America."

The case became an impetus for national debates on guns, self-defense and race relations.

Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder and was acquitted of manslaughter in July 2013.

"I think, at the end of the day, it's not about Trayvon. It's about the person who thought he was suspicious," Fulton said in response to a question during the discussion.

She repeatedly responded by urging people to respect themselves and each other, to remember that everyone is different and to think about what they can do to make sure something like Trayvon Martin's death doesn't happen again.

"All you need is positive people," Fulton said. "Positive does not come in a color at all."

Kendall Andrews said he couldn't relate easily with the situation, growing up as a white male in suburban Utah. But, he said, the issue is important.

"You have to admire how Trayvon Martin's mom has handled everything and just how she's not been violent, not been aggressive, been peaceful the whole time," Andrews said. "Even in horrible situations, some people can take things positively and do good with even the worst situations."

Chloe Cole, at U. student studying strategic communication, said she was impressed with Fulton, who has chosen to fight against racial profiling with words, action and love. Fulton said it's pointless to take a life in revenge; that only results in another death.


"It's like she brought the issue right to home, and so now as she leaves we can continue that conversation about whether it be racial profiling or other issues of profiling I experience and other people experience here in Utah," said Fattima Ahmed, a Muslim student at the U.

The Trayvon Martin Foundation is hosting a peace walk and talk in Miami in February to celebrate Trayvon Martin's life and tell young people "they have a right to walk in peace," Fulton said.

The discussion kicked off a weekend of events celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.

Fulton said King's message of nonviolence is at the forefront of her efforts, and she aims to lead by example.

"Racism is still alive. Racial profiling is still alive. Injustice is still alive," Fulton said. "And we have to make a difference. We have to change this."


Source: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865594323/Trayvon-Martins-mother-speaks-out-against-racial-profiling-calls-for-respect.html?pg=2

Last Updated on Friday, 31 January 2014 07:41
Marvin Gaye’s Family Wins In “Blurred Lines” Copyright Case PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sha Be Allah   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 12:13

The Gaye family wins undisclosed settlement in copyright infringement case

The children of soul icon Marvin Gaye were victorious in the courtroom for a copyright infringement case for the Robin Thicke sung, Grammy nominated hit “Blurred Lines” that sounds similar to their father’s song, “Got To Give It Up”.

On Tuesday, a judge in LA granted Nona and Frankie Gaye a dismissal of their lawsuit against EMI, which is now owned by Sony/ATV Music Publishing. The Gayes accused EMI of refusing to file an infringement case against Thicke on behalf of the song because of its obvious similarities to Marvin.

The undisclosed amount of the settlement between the Gayes and Sony have an agreement where these claims can never be brought up again.

Thicke, T.I., and Pharrell all asked a federal judge in August to rule that “Blurred Lines”, which was nominated for Record of the Year at last year’s Grammys, was not a copy of Marvin Gaye’s hit. Blurred Lines sold 6.6 digital copies and spent 12 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100.

The Gaye family lawsuit against Thicke and Sony sought to prevent the singer from using elements from their father’s music in his other songs, as they also claimed that Thicke used part of Marvin Gaye’s “After The Dance” on his number 1 R&B hit, “Love After War”.

Source: http://thesource.com/2014/01/15/marvin-gayes-family-wins-in-blurred-lines-copyright-case/

Last Updated on Friday, 31 January 2014 07:46
Snoop Dogg Cleared to Play Australian Tour Despite Protests PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lars Brandle   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 15:35

Snoop DoggSnoop Dogg has been granted an Australian work permit, despite a petition that had sought to have the U.S. rapper denied entry on account of his misogynistic lyrics.

He'll perform as the No. 3 billed headliner on the touring Big Day Out festival, which starts Jan. 19 on the Gold Coast and visits four more Australian cities. The news will be welcome relief for organizers, who were forced to replace Blur when the Britpop headliners pulled out last November. Though Snoop’s appearance won’t get any positive shout-outs from the Collective Shout group. The women’s organization is behind a petition which has more than 3,500 signatures, the aim of which is to have Snoop's entry-visa yanked.

"Snoop Dogg’s lyrics glorify violence against women,” the organization writes in a letter posted on its Website and targeted at federal immigration minister Scott Morrison. “As a society which claims to be serious about eradicating violence against women,” the letter concludes, “there should be no place for recording artists who glorify misogyny and degrade women for entertainment. Welcoming artists like Snoop Dogg sends a message that we don’t take our obligations to address violence against women seriously.”

Morrison has apparently received the message, which carries the headline, “Revoke pimp rapper Snoop Dogg’s visa.” But he’s told reporters that Snoop “has a visa.”

Collective Shout last year led a separate campaign to have Tyler, the Creator’s visa revoked, claiming his behavior was “creating a hostile environment for women and girls by engaging in vilification.”

Snoop Dogg, who has performed recently as Snoop Lion and Snoopzilla but was born Calvin Broadus, nixed the U.K. leg of a European tour in 2007 when the British government refused him a visa. British officials had refused to budge on an earlier ban placed on Snoop after he and his entourage were involved in a fracas with staff and police at Heathrow Airport in 2006, resulting in numerous arrests.


Source: http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/the-juice/5869850/snoop-dogg-cleared-to-play-australian-tour-despite-protests

Last Updated on Friday, 31 January 2014 07:43
Lauryn Hill Leaves Prison Early, Releases New Single All In 24 Hours PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 04 October 2013 22:19

Lauryn Hill has been released from prison after serving a three month sentence for tax evasion.

The former Fugees singer left the the minimum security Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut on Friday. According to the Bureau of Prisons, Hill was released a few days early for good behavior.

Her attorney told TMZ, Hill will now be confined to her home for three months as part of her 1-year probation period.

Hill turned herself in on July 8 after being convicted for failing to pay taxes on more than $1.8 million in income she earned between 2005 and 2007.

According to TMZ, she served her time in the same prison in which the hit Netflix show "Orange Is the New Black" takes place.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/blog/2013/10/04/Lauryn-Hill-released-from-prison-early/4171380913889/#ixzz2gpG68edL
Last Updated on Friday, 31 January 2014 07:45
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