Supreme Court Declines To Hear Case Of Former Black Panthers Leader H. Rap Brown

Supreme Court Declines To Hear Case Of Former Black Panthers Leader H. Rap Brown

The Supreme Court has declined to hear the case of former Black Panthers leader H. Rap Brown, who is in prison on charges of killing a Georgia sheriff’s deputy. Black power militant H. Rap Brown talks with newsmen from the doorway of the Cuban Mission to the United Nations in New York on Jan. 10, 1968. Brown took sanctuary inside the mission for nearly six hours after a policeman sought to arrest him. (AP Photo)

The Supreme Court is declining to take the case of former Black Panthers leader H. Rap Brown, in prison on charges of killing a Georgia sheriff’s deputy in 2000 and considered by many to be a political prisoner.

Brown argued that his constitutional rights were violated at trial and sought his release, AP reported.

Now going by the name Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, Brown, 75, was a prominent Black Panthers leader in the 1960s and had also been the chairman of the organizations’ Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

In 2002, Brown was convicted of murder in the 2000 killing of Fulton County sheriff’s Deputy Ricky Kinchen and the wounding of Kinchen’s partner, Deputy Aldranon English. Brown was sentenced to life in prison.

In his request to the Supreme Court, he had argued that a prosecutor violated his right not to testify by directly questioning him during closing arguments. Brown’s lawyers argued that the trial judge should have allowed them to question an FBI agent who was present at his arrest about another incident involving the agent.

Brown’s appeal made it to the Supreme Court after a federal appeals court rejected his attempt to challenge his imprisonment in 2019. 

Police said Brown shot Kinchen and English on March 16, 2000 when they went to serve a warrant fpr his arrest for failure to appear in court on charges of driving a stolen car and impersonating a police officer during a traffic stop. Brown had been living in Atlanta, where he was a religious leader and owned a grocery store. 

After the shooting, Brown was arrested four days later in White Hall, Alabama, a small town where he had helped develop a Muslim community.

It’s been a long legal battle for Brown. In September 2107, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg found that the “prosecutor violated Al-Amin’s constitutional right not to testify and that the trial court’s attempt to mitigate the prosecutor’s violation was insufficient and may have actually been harmful,” ABC News reported.

But she rejected his challenge to his imprisonment, as the violation did not affect the jury’s decision.

Brown supporters went to Twitter to speak out about the decision. One tweeted, “Listen to this bullshit: ‘A prosecutor violated the constitutional rights of 1960s black militant formerly known as #HRapBrown during his trial, but it’s unlikely that substantially affected the verdict, a federal appeals court found.'”

Following the decision, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit agreed with Totenberg’s findings that the prosecutor committed a substantial constitutional error. 

But they too agreed it’s unlikely that this substantially affected the jury’s verdict.

“We regret that we cannot provide Mr. Al-Amin relief in the face of the prosecutorial misconduct that occurred at his trial. A prosecutor’s duty in a criminal proceeding is not to secure a conviction by any means, but to ensure that justice will prevail,” Circuit Judge Charles Wilson wrote in the opinion. “The prosecutor at Al-Amin’s trial failed to live up to that duty.”

The appeal made it to the Supreme Court.

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Brown released his autobiography, “Die Nigger Die!,” in 1969.

In the late 1960s, he was tried on federal charges of inciting a riot and carrying a gun across state lines. During his trial, he disappeared and was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. In 1971 after being arrested for armed robbery in Manhattan, he served five years in Attica State Prison. 

While in prison, he converted to Islam and changed his name. He became a Muslim spiritual leader and community activist preaching against drugs and gambling in Atlanta’s West End neighborhood.

A secret 1967 FBI memo that called for “neutralizing” Brown was later leaked. It revealed that he was targeted by the COINTELPRO program, according to Wikipedia.