UPDATED, with stuff from AP story below...
District 7 Councillor Chuck Turner is due back in court today, as his attorneys try to lift the gag order imposed by the U.S. Attorneyâ€™s office and approved by a judge.
Federal prosecutors have charged Turner with accepting a $1,000 bribe, in a case tied to former Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, who is charged with taking $23,000 in bribes.
Turner, who is running for re-election against former City Hall aide Carlos Henriquez and perennial candidates Althea Garrison and Roy Owens, has denied the charges and calls the gag order a violation of his First Amendment rights. Prosecutors say the gag order is necessary to ensure that Turner doesnâ€™t compromise with their investigation.
In a message to supporters, Turner, a member of the Green-Rainbow Party, again alleged the accusations are part of a Republican conspiracy, which includes former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan running for governor, with former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft helping, while they both try to â€œsecure businessâ€ for Halliburton, a controversial company with ties to former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.
â€œIt's really about the deal that Sullivan made with Bush, Cheney, and Ashcroft,â€ Turner wrote. â€œWhat do I mean by that? I personnally believe that former Attorney General Ashcroft said to Sullivan that if he could take down Senator Wilkerson and myself, he would put up the money to open the firm of Ashcroft and Sullivan in Boston where they could try to secure business for Halliburton to serve as a base while Sullivan prepares for his run for Governor. Ashcroft seems to have made similar deals with three other US Attorneys in other parts of the country. In other words the quid pro quo for taking us down was the money to open the office.â€
AP writes: Sullivan didn't immediately respond to a call and e-mail to the firm's Boston office seeking his response. A spokesman at the firm's Washington office was reviewing Turner's e-mail.
Efforts to reach the other U.S. attorneys apparently singled out by Turner -- Catherine Hanaway from Missouri and Johnny Sutton and John Ratcliffe from the western and eastern districts in Texas, respectively -- were not immediately successful. All four teamed up with Ashcroft in April and May.
The hearing was scheduled for noon in Courtroom One at the Moakley Courthouse. The full letter to supporters is below:
This Thursday, July 2nd, at noon in Courtroom 1 in the Moakley
Courthouse Judge Woodlock has agreed to hear my lawyers' challenge to
court approved gag order and attempt by the US Attorney's office to
strip me of my first amendment rights. Let me briefly review the
background of this hearing:
a) In December 2008, Asst U.S. Attorney McNeil told my lawyers that if I would sign a gag order stating that I would not talk publicly about the discovery information (evidence of my guilt), they would give me more information than I would get if I wouldn't sign. They also said that I would get the information more quickly than I would if I refused to sign the gag order.
As you can imagine, I said No. Why should I have to sign a gag order in order to get the "alleged evidence". I felt I had a right to the evidence and it would be ridiculous for me to give up my first
amendment rights in order to get it. It was hard for me to imagine
that after they had spread the "alleged pictures of my guilt" around
the world before I was even arraigned, they would have the nerve to
ask me to cooperate with them by silencing myself. However, as I am
learning Asst US Attorney McNeil has no shame.
When I wouldn't sign, McNeil went to court on January 5, 2009 and
asked the court to require that I sign the gag order in order to
receive the discovery. While the Judge approved the request on March
16th, I continued to refuse to sign. While my lawyers continually
stress that I am making it more difficult for them if I don't enable
them to see the evidence before the trial starts, my position is:
1) That to cooperate with them by giving up my right of free speech
would betray my people's 400 year struggle to have rights that are
respected in this country.
2) They don't have any evidence to convict me since I am not guilty
and if they have made up some, I believe we can expose them.
3) Since US Attorney Sullivan's objective was to silence me by any
means, it would be crazy for me to cooperate with his objective.
4) Since I am running for office, people will want me to talk about
the legal situation I am in. I can't afford to say wait for the trial.They expect me to be candid and have a right to expect me to speak to the issue of the case, not hide behind my lawyers.
5) While I certainly don't want to go to jail, some one has to stand
up and challenge the flagrant abuse of power that takes place in many
of the courts of this country every day. If I wind up being the poster child for racial injustice in this "post racial era", so be it.
When McNeil found out that I would not sign the gag order, he went
back to court and asked the judge to order me to take the information
and the judge complied. However, I told my lawyer that if McNeil sent
the "discovery" he should send it back unopened. While I thought that
would end McNeil's feverish attempt to force my silence, he went back
to court yet again in May. This time McNeil asked the Judge to take
away all my legal rights regarding discovery information by ordering
that if I didn't take the discovery now, I would lose any right to
request motions or continuances on the basis of the discovery when
finally received. Again, McNeil can huff and puff all that he wants
but I am not going to put myself in his trap.
As you can see from the above, McNeil is so determined to silence me,
he has exposed the fact that this trial has nothing to do with
justice. It's really about the deal that Sullivan made with Bush,
Cheney, and Ashcroft. What do I mean by that? I personnally believe
that former Attorney General Ashcroft said to Sullivan that if he
could take down Senator Wilkerson and myself, he would put up the
money to open the firm of Ashcroft and Sullivan in Boston where they
could try to secure business for Halliburton to serve as a base while
Sullivan prepares for his run for Governor. Ashcroft seems to have
made similar deals with three other US Attorneys in other parts of the country. In other words the quid pro quo for taking us down was the money to open the office.
Hope you can join me on Thursday, July 2nd at noon in Court Room 1 of
the Moakley Courthouse. I think it is not only going to be
fascinating, I think it will also be fun. See you there.