By Ron Edwards
Nothing but confusion has emerged from lower courts
Three weeks ago, supporters of those seeking justice in the Fong Lee case were shocked by the Eighth Circuit Court. It had first ruled it would review the case and then reversed itself a week later, ruling in an official communiqué that the review would not take place.
That decision creates many legal difficulties for supporters of the heirs and next of kin of Fong Lee. Earlier columns on this subject are listed below.
But the door is not completely closed. I have learned that very well-connected political forces within the Hmong community have committed their full resources to pursuing justice in this matter. It is clear that there has been significant political movement in Hmong communities across the United States in support of the heirs and next of kin of Fong Lee.
A very powerful law firm in Texas has come aboard to help in matters pertaining to the appeal of the case identified as 09-2771. As a result of this very disturbing action by the Eighth Circuit, a special request to the United States Supreme Court is being prepared.
A question that demands an answer is this: Why did the Eighth Circuit reverse itself? Did it have to do with the statements on page 14 of the opinion of Aug 12, 2010, as has been previously reported in this column (September 11)?
In that column, serious questions were raised about a clear representation of evidence that was never presented. The court said, in its opinion, that Fong Lee turned with gun in hand toward Officer Jason Anderson in such a way that Anderson believed his life was in danger.
The court identified a video as the source that corroborated Anderson’s testimony that Fong Lee turned towards him as if to fire at the end of his foot pursuit. I was in the courtroom in May 2009, when a video was shown. Frames of that video are the same that appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Dispatch on April 1, 2009.
Let us be clear: There was never any video shown at trial or during the taking of depositions that showed Fong Lee pointing a gun at Officer Jason Anderson. This, by the way, is the same Jason Anderson that the Star Tribune, City Pages and others reported on Sept. 21, 2010 had been fired for conduct unbecoming — he did not tell the truth in the beating of a 16-year-old African American in Crystal, Minnesota a little over two years ago. So why assume he told the truth about Fong Lee?
Far too many appellate judges do not write their own opinions, too often leaving it to inexperienced law clerks who have not heard the evidence firsthand, or who sometimes are very selective and biased in using information provided by the state or the government, as opposed to a balanced presentation of evidence and statements.
Will the United States Supreme Court reverse the reversal and hear the appeal in the matter of the death of Fong Lee? We are not sure. Regardless of what we would like to see happen, the system is the system. It protects itself, and far too often it protects its deficiencies and defends its legacy. In this case, the questionable actions within the Eighth Circuit suggest that the court’s legacy will be that justice and fairness was not paramount, and where expediency and cover-up was the order of the day.
The greater issue is discussed in our column on the case regarding how the judicial system itself is on trial, as I pointed out in my June 10, 2009 column, titled “Let’s admit it: Some judges are bad. Conduct of Fong Lee trial is a case in point.”
Thurgood Marshall, Earl Warren, the Cardosas, and other giants of the Supreme Court would never sign off on such expediency. Their signatures would sign off only on fairness and justice. And that should be the appeal the U.S. Supreme Court should review and make judgment on in the matter pertaining to the July 22, 2006 death of Fong Lee and the serious error in the case by the three-judge panel on Aug. 12, 2010.
God save the United States of America. Stay tuned.
See archives for previous columns on Fong Lee: www.theminneapolisstory.com/tocarchives.htm. In 2006: August 2. In 2009: February 8; April 8 and 22; May 20; June 3, 10 and 24; July 1 and 29; and September 17 and 21. In 2010: September 17 and 21. See also my blog entry of April 5, 2009.
Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!” Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and “web log” at www.TheMinneap olisStory.com.