Reportback from the Latest LOVE Park 4 Court Date
On Tuesday May 12, the remaining LOVE Park 4 defendants - Jason Robbins, Tom Keenan and Jared Schultz - appeared in court yet again. This hearing thankfully moved in a forward direction, instead of resulting in another continuance in a long line of delays dating back almost two years.
Judge Frank Palumbo heard the State's appeal of Judge Marsha Neifeld's decision from December's court date. She ordered the District Attorney to reveal the identities of two undercover Philadelphia narcotics officers who had posed as neo-Nazis in LOVE Park on July 23rd, 2007 - the day of the mysterious Ku Klux Klan rally that never actually happened. The prosecution argued that revealing the undercover narcotics officers' identities would both endanger the officers personally as well as prohibit them from participating in any future undercover investigation into the white power organization Keystone State Skinheads (KSS). Supposedly, according to testimony given at December's hearing by these officers' superior Lieutenant McConnell that is why his officers were present in Love Park - as part of an ongoing narcotics probe into KSS.
Defense lawyers Larry Krasner and Paul Hetznecker responded by arguing that there was no basis for the State to appeal Judge Neifeld's order, stating that the District Attorney was unable to meet the threshold test for the appeal. This test measures whether or not the prosecution would be hindered if Judge Neifeld's order was upheld. The defense argued that in no way would the prosecution's case be hindered, but the omission of the identities of these officers does indeed hinder the defense. They argued further that police officers - specifically narcotics officers - regularly testify in open court. Referring to Lieutenant McConnell's testimony from December, they also pointed that these specific officers in question have time and again testified in open court. In response to the Assistant District Attorney's statement that these officers would not be able to go back undercover with KSS if the investigation was to be reopened, Paul Hetznecker reminded the judge that not only has it been almost two years since the beginning of this case, but the police department itself has said the case against KSS was inactive 6 months prior to that date. The point here: the District Attorney's office is attempting to use a separate - not to mention closed - case to further impede the proceedings of the LOVE Park 4 case.
The only other argument the Assistant District Attorney presented for his case being hindered was that if Judge Neifeld's order is upheld, the District Attorney's office "would be forced to withdraw the charges" against the defendants rather then reveal the identity of the undercover officers. Judge Palumbo expressed skepticism time and time again in response to the prosecutor's continued repetition of that argument. It is also worth nothing that the hearing never even got to the point of reviewing the merits or content of the original defense motion asking for the witnesses' identities, as Judge Palumbo seemed to be in agreement with defense counsel that the District Attorney had failed to meet the threshold test for the appeal.
In the end Judge Palumbo chose to take the appeal under advisement, giving himself time to become familiar with the notes and transcripts from the case, and also asking all of the lawyers to submit additional briefs in support of their individual arguments. A new court date was scheduled for June 16th. It is expected that Judge Palumbo will make his ruling at that time.
Jason, Tom and Jared would like to thank everyone that took time out of their busy schedules to stand with them in court this week. They would like to express that the solidarity people continue to show them is amazing!\
In Solidarity with ALL Political Prisoners, The LOVE Park 4 Defense Committee