[Pnews] Nebraska Supreme Court faces Cointelpro issue in Mondo we Langa rehearing bid

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Dec 23 10:34:43 EST 2014

  Nebraska Supreme Court faces COINTELPRO issue in Mondo we Langa
  rehearing bid

December 22, 2014 9:20 AM MST

The Nebraska Supreme Court, which turned down Black Panther leader Mondo 
we Langa 
post-conviction appeal, without issuing a written decision 
<http://crimemagazine.com/j-edgar-hoover-and-framing-omaha-two>, has 
been asked to reconsider the matter and make written findings. The 
illegal counterintelligence program of the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation, codenamed COINTELPRO <http://vault.fbi.gov/cointel-pro>, 
has emerged as a critical issue in the case.

Mondo we Langa <http://www.examiner.com/topic/mondo-we-langa> (former 
David Rice) and Edward Poindexter 
were leaders of the National Committee to Combat Fascism 
<http://crimemagazine.com/j-edgar-hoover-and-framing-omaha-two>, a Black 
Panther affiliate, in Omaha, Nebraska in 1970 when the bombing death of 
a policeman was blamed on them. After a controversial trial marred by 
apparent perjury by police and the state’s chief witness, in addition to 
withheld evidence, the two men were convicted and are serving life 

Omaha attorney Timothy Ashford filed a motion for rehearing with the 
state high court on October 31. Ashford’s brief, submitted for Mondo we 
Langa, addressed COINTELPRO <http://www.examiner.com/topic/cointelpro> 
tampering with the evidence in Mondo’s 1971 trial. The appeal brief stated:

“Appellant Rice [Mondo] and Poindexter allege their actual innocence 
because they were targeted along with Black Panther Geronimo Pratt, by 
the Federal Bureau of Investigator (F.B.I.) J. Edgar Hoover to be framed 
for the murder as part of a clandestine national operation named 
COINTELPRO which was formed by the F.B.I. to destroy the Black Panther 
Party for Self-Defense by falsely incarcerating the members of the party.”

Pratt, a Los Angeles Black Panther, was convicted of a robbery murder 
after the FBI withheld exculpatory evidence, phone-tap logs, which 
confirmed Pratt’s alibi he was out of town when the crime occurred. 
Pratt served a quarter century behind bars before gaining his freedom 
after the COINTELPRO tampering was discovered. In Mondo’s case, the 
exculpatory evidence withheld was an FBI Laboratory report on the 
identity of an anonymous 911 caller 
that lured a policeman to his death.

The sufficiency of Mondo’s denial of guilt has become key to judicial 
consideration of the appeal. A bitter irony is that Mondo has been 
proclaiming his innocence since the day he was arrested and has 
announced his innocence on numerous occasions.

Douglas County District Judge James Gleason 
ruled that Mondo we Langa failed to claim actual innocence in his 
post-conviction appeal despite a numbered paragraph making what seems to 
be a pretty clear claim of innocence. The Nebraska Supreme Court is now 
being asked to rule, in writing, if the language used by attorney 
Ashford was sufficient to protect Mondo’s appeal right. Ashford wrote:

“Defendant Rice [Mondo] is entitled to a new trial because he did not 
commit the crime charged and he is not guilty of the crime leading to 
the death of Officer Minard in 1970, and further, the defendant’s 
presumption of innocence was lost as a result of the errors alleged herein.”

The sufficiency of Mondo’s claim of innocence is crucial to the 
timeliness of the appeal. If Mondo’s claim of innocence is not adequate 
as written by Ashford, then the Nebraska Supreme Court to be fair has an 
unmet obligation to state, in no uncertain terms, exactly what was 
defective in Mondo’s claim of innocence.

Eligibility for parole is a third significant issue raised in the case. 
The Parole Board recommended 5-0 to grant Mondo we Langa parole back in 
1993. However, the Board of Pardons, which had to approve Mondo’s 
eligibility to go before the Parole Board, has refused Mondo the 
opportunity. The Board of Pardons is made up of the Governor, Attorney 
General, and Secretary of State, which conflicts the Attorney General 
because he is already opposing Mondo in court. Mondo’s attorney 
explained the significance of the conflict of interest.

Tim Ashford wrote, “The Board of Pardons changed the Nebraska statutes 
to life without parole by unilaterally refusing to commute the sentence 
to a term of years.” Mondo we Langa has never been granted a hearing 
before the Board of Pardons.

“Furthermore, Rice [Mondo] was treated differently than other defendants 
convicted of murder and denied equal protection of the law.” Ashford 
said the reason is because Mondo is a former Black Panther who was 
convicted of killing a white police officer.

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, through Assistant Attorney 
General Erin Tangeman, has already told the Nebraska Supreme Court that 
he is going to ignore Mondo’s argument and not bother to reply. 
Bruning’s inaction on Mondo’s motion and his decision to not explain his 
conflict of interest serving on the Board of Pardons forces the court to 
do its own work answering Mondo’s appeal. While Bruning’s default may be 
an effort to encourage the court to dismiss Mondo again without a 
written opinion, it introduces a calculated risk the ploy will instead 
force the court to finally give Mondo we Langa his day in court.

No date for a decision has been announced.

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