Attorney at Law
3580 Wilshire Blvd #1700
Los Angeles, California 90010
July 24, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE
RE: Sirhan Sirhan files new petition challenging his convictionfor 1968 assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy charging that his lawyer was blackmailed by federal prosecutors.
On July 23, 2002, a second Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus was filed in the California Supreme Court seeking a new trial for Sirhan Sirhan, who was wrongfully convicted for the Los Angeles assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy on June 5, 1968.
The petition maintains that federal prosecutors blackmailed Sirhan's trial lawyer, the late Grant Cooper, into throwing the case and helping the Los Angeles County District Attoineyrs office achieve a conviction and death verdict. Shortly after agreeing to represent Sirban, Cooper was allegedly discovered in possession of stolen federal grand jury transcripts by a federal Prosecutor in another case. Long-secret LAPD documents reveal that on December 23, 1968, police were advised that an announcement concerning concering Cooper's indictment was "expected in the next day or two." On January 3, 1969, the FBI agent assigned to an interagency task force in the Sirhan case reported that he was monitoring "Grant Cooper's dilemma." On January 6, 1969, Cooper advised the Sirhan trial judge that he had discussed the matter with the U. S . Attorney in Los Angeles and had been told that no decision had been made as to whether he would be indicted after all. Cooper added that he could "not conceive" that he would be indicted. The trial judge never advised Sirhan of the possibility that federal prosecutors involved with the case were pressuring his lawyer and never gave the defendant a chance to request a new lawyer.
Cooper then proceeded to betray his client by:
* conceding to the jury that Sirhan shot and killed Kennedy and then failed to move for a mistrial when the prosecution belatedly disclosed long-withheld autopsy report which established. that Sirhan was out of position and out of range and could not have shot the Senator;
* failing to introduce evidence that an armed security guard was, unlike Sirhan, admittedly in position and actually drew his weapon during the shooting;
* urginq Sirhan to plead guilty under circumstances in which the prosecution could still seek the death penalty;
* refusinq to object to the introduction of Bullets after having been advised by, the prosecution in chambers that they could not be authenticated;
* failing to present the defense that Sirhan has been programmmed through hypnosis to pull a weapon and fire it without knowing what he was doing and without being able to recall having been programmed. Sirhan's previous petition was accompanied by a declaration from this nation's premier hypnosis expert, Herbert Spiegel, M.D., who teaches at Columbia University. Dr. Spiegel has concluded that Sirhan was programed in this manner and that this was established by Sirhan's performance under hypnosis prior to his trial. (Cooper's defense was that Sirhan was a paranoid schizophrenic, but as has been pointed out by both Dr. Spiegel and by the prosecution's own expert at trial, schizophrenics have a low level of hypnotizability. Sirhan was an excellent and experienced subject of hypnosis).
After Sirhan was convicted and sentenced to death, Cooper was allowed to pay $1000 in fines for possession of the transcripts and for having lied to the judge.
Sirhan's claims arise under a U.S. Supreme Court decision (Cyler v. Sullivan, 445 U.S. 335 (1980)) holding that a defendant is entitled to reversal of his conviction if his lawyer suffered from an actual conflict of interest that adversely affected counsel's performance The right to reversal is automatic if the existence of such a potential conflict is disclosed in the record and the judge fails to advise the defendant of his right to request another lawyer.
The Petition also charges that:
* prosecutors concealed a police officer witness who observed an imposter sign Sirhan's name on the roster at a police target range three days before the assassination;
* one defense investigator served as an informer for the LAPD inside the defense camp, while another was wire-tapped on prosecution orders;
* prosecutors received illegal reports of juror comments about the evidence during the trial.
Newly discovered evidence establishes the presence of an LAPD intelligence officer with a gun at the assassination location. The LAPD test fired two weapons as though they had been recovered at the scene. One of these weapons had been in police custody before the crime and was destroyed shortly thereafter.
A previous petition was filed with the California Supreme Court in 1997 (Cal. Supreme Ct. # SO 62258). That petition was denied in May of 2000, at which point Sirhan immediately sought relief in U.S. District Court. His federal petition is still pending. (USDC C.D. Cal. # OO-CV-5686 CAS (AJW); Cal. Supreme Ct. # S 108584, 7-23-02).
(The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth
Circuit is still considering Sirhan's request that his federal
petition be transferred to a judge outside the Los Angeles federal
court system. The basis for that request is that the U.S. Attorney in
Los Angeles 1968 and 1969 is now a Los Angeles federal judge, and the
magistrate judge assigned to Sirhan's case is his subordinate. (CA 9
Contact: Lawrence Teeter, Esq.: # (213) 387-4512