[Ppnews] Judy Clark - new trial

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Sep 26 08:27:45 EDT 2006

New Trial in Deadly 1981 N.Y. Robbery

The Associated Press
Tuesday, September 26, 2006; 7:04 AM

NEW YORK -- When Judith Clark went on trial for murder in 1983, a 
judge granted her the right to represent herself. But as prosecutors 
argued their case against her, she refused to come to court, 
remaining in a cell.

In a decision released Monday, another judge said Clark deserves a 
new trial because no one represented her interests in the courtroom 
as the evidence against her was unveiled.

Clark, 56, is serving a 75-year prison sentence after being convicted 
as a getaway driver in the robbery of a Brinks armored truck in which 
a guard and two policemen were killed.

A self-declared "freedom fighter" at the time of her trial, Clark 
said the goal of the 1981 robbery and others like it was to seize 
money to create a Republic of New Afrika consisting of former slave states.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin signed her decision Thursday, 
ruling that the trial judge should not have let Clark represent 
herself or should have disallowed it once it became clear that no one 
in the courtroom would represent her interests while prosecutors 
presented their case.

James Kralik, sheriff of Rockland County, where the deadly 1981 
robbery took place, called the judge's decision "patently wrong" and 
"an absurd ruling." He said he was glad the county's district 
attorney was appealing it.

Scheindlin, who said Clark knowingly and intelligently waived her 
right to a lawyer, called the woman's situation "almost unprecedented."

"She vigorously sought to represent herself at trial and yet was so 
unwilling to abide by courtroom protocol that she remained in a cell, 
outside the courtroom, for the entire presentation of the 
prosecution's case," the judge wrote.

She was sentenced in October 1983, one of four people charged. In an 
affidavit in December 2002, she detailed her regret for her actions, 
her rejection of her past life and the reasons for her delay in 
pursuing a legal remedy, Scheindlin noted.

"Given Clark's lack of counsel and her refusal to recognize the 
legitimacy of the court, it is not surprising that she failed to 
appeal," Scheindlin said.


Associated Press writer Jim Fitzgerald in White Plains, N.Y., 
contributed to this report.

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