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California | Police State and Prisons

Court Clears Execution for Crips Founder (Stanley "Tookie" Williams)
by San Jose Mercury News
Wednesday Feb 2nd, 2005 9:23 PM
A federal appeals court Wednesday refused to consider blocking the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams, a founder of the notorious Crips street gang who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize while in prison.
Posted on Wed, Feb. 02, 2005

Court Clears Execution for Crips Founder

DAVID KRAVETS

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO - A federal appeals court Wednesday refused to consider blocking the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams, a founder of the notorious Crips street gang who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize while in prison.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to grant a new hearing on Williams' claim that prosecutors violated his rights when they dismissed all potential black jurors. A three-judge panel of the court had previously approved his execution but did not fully consider the jury-selection issue.

Williams will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, said defense lawyer Andrea Asaro. She noted that the Supreme Court ruled in 1986 that race could not be a reason for excusing jurors.

Williams was sentenced to death in 1981 for killing a convenience store worker and also was convicted of killing three other people. He claims jailhouse informants fabricated testimony that he confessed.

While in prison, Williams was nominated in 2001 for a Nobel Peace Prize for his series of children's books and efforts to curtail youth gang violence.

Officials of the state attorney general's office did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
by Reuters (repost)
Wednesday Feb 2nd, 2005 9:25 PM
Split Court Clears Way to Execute L.A. Gang Founder
Wed Feb 2, 2005 03:54 PM ET



By Adam Tanner

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A divided U.S. appeals court declined on Wednesday to reconsider a death penalty verdict against the founder of a notorious street gang turned peace advocate, making possible his execution later this year after a quarter-century delay.

Stanley "Tookie" Williams, the black founder of the Crips gang in Los Angeles, was convicted in the 1979 murders of a convenience store clerk in a $120 robbery and of a woman and her parents in a motel robbery in which he stole $50.

An all-white jury convicted him on four counts of first- degree murder and two counts of robbery in 1981 and imposed the death penalty.

Since then Williams has filed a long series of legal challenges as well as written a series of books urging youth not to get involved with gangs. The Cannes Film Festival last year screened a drama about his life starring Jamie Foxx.

On Wednesday, a majority of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to allow a 11-judge en banc group to reconsider an earlier ruling from a 9th Circuit three-judge panel. The decision produced a relatively rare dissent, with 10 judges in favor of rehearing the case en banc.

"In this a case, a prosecutor, publicly castigated by the Supreme Court of California for his pattern of racially motivated peremptory jury challenges, removed all blacks from Williams' jury," Judge Johnnie Rawlinson wrote in his dissent.

"In declining to take this case en banc, our court bestows an implicit imprimatur upon the trial court's denial of a constitutionally mandated jury selection process."

"The very legitimacy of our system of justice depends upon continued vigilance against such practices," wrote Rawlinson, who was joined in his dissent by nine other judges.

The court majority, whose numbers were not specified, did not provide any reasoning for their decision to decline to rehear the case, as is customary in such orders.

The 9th Circuit order means that Williams could be executed as early as this summer, said Dane Gillette, California's senior assistant attorney general who oversees death penalty cases. The last hurdle would be an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, he said.

California executed its first prisoner in three years last month. Long legal reviews typically result in two-decade-long delays before executions take place at San Quentin prison north of San Francisco.

Williams has renounced his gang past, has appeared on national television programs, and has an Web site promoting his books. "I pray that one day my apology will be accepted," he writes on Tookie.com. "I vow to spend the rest of my life working toward solutions."

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.