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Artist James P. Anderson, A Case For Reasonable Doubt

by STEVE ARGUE (steveorchid [at]
Despite no case against him, James P. Anderson sits on death row.
Death Row Artist James P. Anderson, A Case For
Reasonable Doubt.

Artist James P. Anderson has sat in prison, mostly
on death row, for the past 22 years. From the prison
cells where men are warehoused to die at San Quentin
State Prison, his paintings are a reaffirmation of
beauty and humanity. James P. Anderson's painting
"Desire" seems to me to show a pathway to his desire
to live, dream, and create under a system that simply
wants him to die.
Anderson was convicted of the murder of two women
in 1979, but maintains he is innocent.
If James Anderson is innocent he's in good company.
In the year 2000 alone 58 death row inmates had their
convictions overturned largely as a result of new DNA
evidence being brought to light. Still prosecutors
have fought against the use of DNA evidence to
overturn old convictions, even when the lives of
innocent people are on the line.
James P. Anderson has not had the benefit of new
DNA evidence coming to light, especially with the
crime scene never having been secured, but a number of
major questions do cast doubts on the prosecutions
version of events.
James P. Anderson is a black man. He was convicted
by an all white jury in Riverside County, California.
All white juries do not understand issues that Blacks
face in America like police, prosecutorial, and
judicial racism. In addition death penalty juries are
always more likely to convict because all who oppose
the death penalty are excluded from these juries,
making them juries that are more biased towards
supporting the prosecution. An all white death
penalty jury is in fact one that is likely to contain
a number of people who think that all Black people are
criminals, making these jurors incapable of weighing
the evidence even if it is presented fairly. For a
Black man in racist America, an all white death
penalty jury is not a jury of his peers, and is a
violation of his constitutional rights.
The gap in understanding legal realities in America
could be seen starkly during the O.J. Simpson trial.
Most whites assumed he did it based partly on
pro-police and pro-prosecutorial bias. That bias
included believing the forensic evidence. Yet blacks
were more likely to question that forensic evidence
based on the possibility that it was planted by a
white power Nazi named Mark Fuhrman who has admitted
to planting evidence in the past.
O.J. Simpson had the benefit of being defended by
the best legal representation money can buy. James P.
Anderson was defended by a public defender, Keith
Long, who was suspended from the bar while working on
his case. Incompetent attorneys are very common in
death penalty cases, but it is almost impossible to
get a new trial based on ineffective assistance. The
systems message is clear, the lives of the poor and
working class are cheep in America, justice in only
for those who can afford it..
Anderson maintains that he was framed-up by the
actual killer who he says is Fred Anders. Anderson
says Fred Anders, a white man, was angered by the
interracial relationship between his sister, Sheila
Lynn Anders and James Anderson. In addition Anderson
states that Fred Anders had the additional motive to
frame him because Anderson had just found out about
Fred Anders sexual assault of a 9-year old girl.
The prosecution called only one eyewitness to the
murders to testify, Fred Anders. A crucial piece of
police evidence does back up Anderson's claim that it
was Fred Anders who committed the crime, a piece of
one of the murder weapons was found in Fred Anders
jacket pocket. That section of the murder weapon was
a 3 to 4-foot piece of rope that forensically attached
to the rope used to hang Louise Flanagan. Also found
in Fred Anders pocket was a knife.
The District Attorney on the case, Thomas Douglas,
told the jury that Fred Anders had passed a polygraph
test with flying colors. Later, under questioning,
that same DA admitted he had lied, stating that no
polygraph was given, even though his statement during
the trial is part of the court record.
Fred Anders was the brother of Anderson's
girlfriend, Sheila Lynn Anders. All three had been
traveling together although Anderson didn't really
know Fred Anders. James Anderson informed this
reporter that it was while the three were driving that
he found out the extreme prejudice of Fred Anders.
Detective B. Byers wrote in his police report that
Sheila Lynn Anders had stated that her blood brother,
Fred Anders, and not James P. Anderson, had committed
the murders. She later changed her story after the
prosecution, in violation of federal law, allowed Fred
Anders to visit her in jail. Suddenly she changed her
story and backed up her brother, but she wasn't called
as a witness by the prosecution. Obviously her
testimony would have been useless to the prosecution
with her earlier statements to Detective Byers being
on record, but she was now useless to the defense as
an eyewitness.
Particularly damaging to the defense of James P.
Anderson was the testimony of Deborah Baros claiming
that she was an eyewitness to another murder committed
by James P. Anderson in 1978. This was a murder of a
gas station attendant named Jack Mackey. Yet while
the prosecution claims that her statements
are consistent with evidence, the fact of the matter
is that she gave 2 different versions as to what
happened in taped interviews. In addition Deborah
Baros claims that James P. Anderson communicates with
her telepathically, she states that she remembers many
things through dreams, and claims that her imaginary
son Anthony was riding with them in the car when they
committed the murders. The prosecution admits that
Deborah's son Anthony was imaginary based on various
evidence, but considered her a good witness even with
her unable to state one version of what took place.
Obviously Deborah Baros could not differentiate
between reality and her own dreams and hallucinations,
and the prosecutions use of her in a trial to put a
man on death was criminal activity on their part.
Deborah Baros is under the powerful medications
premarin, Tylenol with codeine, fioricet, xanax,
darvocet, amitriptyline, mellaril, mebaral, and
prophenol. She is taking these medications as a
result of "mental anguish" caused by a New Hampshire
court taking her real children away 1987 for her
alleged sexual abuse of them.
It is very damaging to have someone come forward
and claim to be a witness to the defendant carrying
out a similar crime to the one they are being accused.
This is true even when the witness is not very
credible and other evidence in the crime are purely
circumstantial. The accusations of similar crimes
weigh heavy in the minds of the jurors, making them
less apt to rule in favor of any reasonable doubts
they may have.
For police motivated by racism, other political
motivations, corruption, or just a desire to close a
case the manipulation of mentally vulnerable people
for false testimony has occurred in other cases. In
the case of Leonard Peltier the FBI coerced a mentally
ill South Dakota woman named Myrtle Poor Bear to
testify against him in order to gain Leonard Peltier's
extradition from Canada. Myrtle Poor Bear says that
the FBI threatened to take her children away. She
says the FBI also showed her pictures of Anna Mae with
her hands cut off. Anna Mae was an Indian activist
who is widely believed to have been murdered by the
FBI. Myrtle Poor Bear says that after the FBI showed
her the gruesome pictures of Anna Mae the FBI told her
that she would look even worse when they were done
with her, that they would put her through a meat
grinder and no one would even be able to recognize
Under this kind of intimidation Myrtle Poor Bear
testified that she was the girlfriend of Leonard
Peltier, even though they had never met, and that she
was a witness to Peltier's involvement in killing two
FBI agents, even though she was not. Myrtle Poor Bear
later recanted this testimony.
There is no evidence of such manipulation in the
particular case of the testimony of Deborah Baros, but
we should understand that someone like Deborah Baros
would be susceptible to manipulation.
The use of only two eyewitnesses: one who does not
even know the difference reality and dreams, and
another who potentially carried out the two other
murders and who was carrying a piece of the murder
weapon in his pocket raises serious questions in this
case. The fact that the prosecution did not call a
third eyewitness, Sheila Lynn Anders, because she
originally had said that James P. Anderson was
innocent, is also telling of the weak case against
James P. Anderson.
The standard for guilt is supposed to be guilty
beyond a reasonable doubt, yet an all white pro-death
penalty jury raised on the prejudices of the
mainstream media does not usually have a proper grip
of reality to understand what a reasonable doubt is
and why it is important. The fact that juries are
selected in death penalty cases, eliminating all who
have the sense to oppose the death penalty, is one
more reason why the death penalty should be abolished.
The flimsy evidence used to convict James P. Anderson
and how unreliable convictions really are should make
everyone question the death penalty. Death is
permanent. Besides the fact that the prosecution
never proved a reasonable case against James P.
Anderson, the contribution he is making to the world
through his art is another reason James P. Anderson
must live.
When I spoke to James P. Anderson on the phone from
San Quinton he told me that before all this happened
he had no idea how corrupt the system really is.
Really the death penalty is a weapon of terror held by
a racist system, and nobody is safe. Adding to the
inhumane treatment of being on death row, James P.
Anderson has not been able to get proper medical
attention for a condition that has impaired his sight
and gives him constant headaches.
The death penalty must be abolished! Death penalty
juries must be abolished! We demand proper medical
attention for James P. Anderson! All prisoners must
be freed when there is a case for reasonable doubt!
Free James P. Anderson!

For more information, and to see James P. Anderson's
art visit:

by llivermore
<<All white juries do not understand issues that Blacks
face in America like police>>

And I do not understand why you consistently capitalize "Black" and consisently do not capitalize "white." Let me guess: because you are a racist?

That would certainly seem to be the case here: you have no hesitation in saying that whites are incapable of giving a fair trial to a black man, in other words, that they are by nature igorant or vindictive, and at the same time, you seem to assume that blacks are pretty much always innocent of crimes they are charged with.

"A jury of one's peers" was never meant, and never should be meant, to indicate that juries should be chosen along racial lines. According to your logic, when the multi-millionaire Enron execs go to trial, the juries should only consist of other white multi-millionaires.

I know nothing of the particular case you're talking about here. Perhaps the man is innocent. But you do him no favors by making a racist appeal, and you damage his case far more by putting forth the laughable (laughable if it weren't so tragic) that wife-beater and murderer OJ Simpson was innocent. You're so blinded by your own racism and hatred that you're apparently incapable of seeing that the Simpson case had nothing to do with his race (hell, he didn't even hang out with fellow African-Americans as a rule), and everything to do with an extremely rich and powerful man being able to buy his way out of trouble by using through the use of corrupt, high-powered lawyers and (as you are doing) through blatant appeals to other people's racism.
by trek
I assume this is Larry Livermore formerly of Lookout records.

1) So you believe a black man can get a fair tial with an all white jury? Well i disagree-- America's come a long way in civil rights but im highly skeptical that white people have cleansed themselves enough of racial bias to be the sole arbitrators of justice-- particulary if you go back twenty plus years ago when the case took place. I remember at that time in history that racial slurs (like nigger) often openly said by white people (including my family). In that light i would inheritantly have skepticism to the impartiality of an all white jury judging the fate of a black mans life. Also juries tend to be more conservative and more middle class (versus poor or working class) than the general population. Further Riverside is a pretty multiracial county-- so how come an all white jury? These last two points i believe show some very deep race and class flaws in the American Justice system. Im not saying this man is innocent.

2) While I tend to think OJ was guilty and disagree with the author on this point clearly police racism was a key point in OJ walking.

Yup, this is an equal opportunity country, everybody has the opportunity to be a racist, wHITES and Blacks, as well as bLACKS and Whites.

I agree too, that leaving OJ out of the "appeal" (to the public) is a good idea. I'd revise that piece.

Peltier? Hmm. Undecided about that. But, Peter Matthiessen's book, _In The Spirit Of Crazy Horse_, was a well received national bestseller.

It's *possible* a black person might get a fair trial with an all white jury, in an area where whites think of blacks as peers.
There are many localities where whites don't. Seems better to play it safe, and at least have a mix, hey?

I'd never heard of this case until now, but, if it's true that the DA lied to the jury about the witnesses polygraph test-- that's pretty disturbing.
by llivermore
<<So you believe a black man can get a fair tial with an all white jury?>>

Do you believe a white man can get a fair trial with an all black jury?

It certainly should be possible; certainly there are many blacks and many whites who are fair-minded and will listen to the evidence rather than look at skin color. There are also some racist blacks and some racist whites who will look at skin color and forget about the evidence altogether.

But if we're going to start picking juries based on race, that establishes a dangerous precedent. As I pointed out in my previous post, if a black man, in ordered to be tried by "a jury of his peers," needs to have an all-black or mostly black jury, why then shouldn't the Enron crooks have an all-white, all-millionaire jury? How can a poor black man from the ghetto have any understanding of a white Texas oil millionaire's situation? In other words, you can't have it just one way; if you're going to racial considerations to pick juries for blacks, how can you say it's wrong to use them when picking juries for whites?

What's more, once you start down this slippery slope: how can a white professor grade a black student's paper (or vice versa)? How can a black policeman decide whether or not to arrest a white man? How can a Chinese congressman represent a Latino constituency?

The civil rights movement began as an effort to eliminate prejudcie based on race. To judge people "by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin," as Martin Luther King put it. Tragically, it has been hijacked by race-baiting charlatans of the Al Sharpton ilk, to the point where it has become an instrument for perpetuating racism rather than ending it.

>Do you believe a white man can get a fair trial with an all black jury?

Even though you directed that question at trek, I'll add my 2¢

Yes. I believe it's possible for a white man to get a fair trial with an all black jury. Although, in some circumstances, perhaps not. You mention Sharpton. Well, say a white dude's on trial in Sharpton's neighborhood and he's charged with the alleged murder of a black dude. Maybe he's guilty. Or, maybe he didn't kill the man, and it's case of mistaken identity, or a frame-up. maybe it was in self-defense, if he did kill the man. Regardless of what happened, you catch my drift. ...would you be comfotable with an all black jury?

idealism vs pragmatism, hmm?

That said, I agree with much of your post, regarding the civil rights movement.

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