From Behind Bars

Despite Innocence, U.S. Court Denies Appeal of Kevin Cooper

By Carole Seligman

As we go to press, Kevin Cooper, a man convicted of a multiple murder in 1985, who consistently maintains his innocence, and whose lawyers have proved it, has been denied a hearing by the full court of the U.S. Court of Appeals on May 11, a year-and-a-half after being denied his appeal by a three-judge panel.

Circuit Judge W. Fletcher, joined by four other judges, wrote a 100-page dissent that begins: “The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man.” The dissent goes on in great detail to undo the state’s case against Mr. Cooper, to excoriate the court for its violations of Cooper’s rights, for failing to require the state to reveal to the defense evidence of his innocence.

Such evidence includes police logs showing that several white men were seen in the car owned by the murder victims shortly after the murders were committed. Kevin Cooper is Black. It includes a pair of bloody overalls turned in to the police by the ex-girlfriend of one of the murderers and disposed of by the police! The dissent actually charges the police with planting evidence to convict Cooper and dissects each example. It includes evidence that the one surviving child victim of the murder of his family told investigators that the killers were 3 or 4 white men and that, shown a picture of Kevin Cooper, said that he had never seen him before. The child was manipulated to change his account for the trial.

This case is full of every miscarriage of justice one could possibly imagine. The dissent is a chronicle of these official misdeeds. And Kevin Cooper now faces execution with the only legal avenue left being an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A public outcry against such an outrageous miscarriage of justice must be raised. More information can be found at the website: “