June 12, 2014
By SEAN MURPHY
The body of an Oklahoma inmate who died after a botched execution of what corrections officials have said was an apparent heart attack was returned from an independent autopsy without the heart or larynx, a state medical official said on June 9.
The Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office, which is conducting an independent autopsy on the body of inmate Clayton Lockett, retained the body parts, a practice that is not uncommon, said Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office.
“Oklahoma law reads that the Office of the State Medical Examiner can retain any kind of tissue or samples indefinitely,” Elliott said. “And my understanding is it can be the same in Texas.”
David Autry, Lockett’s attorney, said a private doctor is working to complete a second autopsy and has asked Dallas County to preserve all evidence in the case, including the heart and larynx.
“I assume they retained those for additional testing, but we’ve asked them to preserve all the evidence,” Autry said.
Lockett’s body has been returned to his family and cremated, Autry said.
Dr. Amy Gruszecki, the medical director of American Forensics, a Dallas facility that conducts independent autopsies, said doctors conducting the autopsy likely found something specific with the heart and larynx that they wanted to further document.
“It’s not completely unusual,” Gruszecki said. “They might want to do some additional investigation or saw something that was very important to the diagnosis.”
Lockett died after his April 29 execution was halted when prison officials noted the lethal injection drugs weren’t being administered properly. The doctor inside the death chamber reported a single IV in Lockett’s groin became dislodged and the lethal drugs went into his tissue or leaked out of his body.
Oklahoma was using a new three-drug method for the first time, and Lockett writhed on the gurney, gritted his teeth and attempted to lift his head several times before the state’s prison director halted the execution. Lockett died anyway, about 43 minutes from what prison officials have said was an apparent heart attack.
Gov. Mary Fallin has ordered an investigation into Lockett’s death, and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has issued a six-month stay of execution for a second inmate who was scheduled to die on the same night as Lockett.
The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office will release the official cause and manner of Lockett’s death after it receives the results of the autopsy from Dallas County, Elliott said.
Lockett, a four-time felon, was convicted of shooting 19-year-old Stephanie Nieman with a sawed-off shotgun and watching as two accomplices buried her alive in rural Kay County in 1999 after Nieman and a friend arrived at a home the men were robbing.
June 05, 2014
By Kenneth D. Miller
Assistant Managing Editor
It will be a four month wait before Autumn Burke, daughter of first woman Black Congressional member Yvonne B. Burke, can become the first female to be elected the 62nd Assembly seat.
Autumn, a Democrat, the youngest daughter of Yvonne and Bill Burke, won the June 3 primary with 37 percent of the vote and will face a November 4 runoff against Republican challenger Ted J. Grose who finished second with 23 percent of the vote.
If she wins in November she will become the first female member of the assembly from the 62nd District.
“It’s time for a woman to have this seat, it’s time for a woman to represent women’s rights in Sacramento,” Burke said.
Flanked by her mother and father at her campaign headquarters in Inglewood, she said that she feels good about her chances.
“I do feel like I was born to do this, but you can’t really be conditioned for it until you actually do it.”
Termed out Assembly member Steve Bradford was encouraged by the results and endorsed Burke in her campaign.
“I’m excited, the early numbers are very encouraging because her opponent is a Republican and this a heavy Democratic district,” said Bradford. “I think it sets up a good November for us.
Bradford says that he supported Burke because she was clearly the best candidate.
“She has a commitment to public service. She comes from a long line of public servants and that’s clearly what this business is about. I think she was born to do this.”
In the hotly contested 64th Assembly District, a seat vacated by termed out member Isadore Hall, Carson City Councilman Mike Gipson held a commanding lead at press-time.
Gipson held a 48 percent to 22 percent lead in the vote over Prophet L. Walker and providing he does not win 51 percent of the vote will face the second place challenger in a November 4 runoff.
Gipson was first elected into the Carson City Council on March 8, 2005 and Gipson was selected to serve as the Mayor Pro Tem in March 2008. On March 3, 2009, he was re-elected to another 4-year term as a councilmember in a record-breaking number of votes in Carson’s history. In 2013, he broke his 2009 record with his re-election to his third term in office. With a stronger mandate following his reelection, Mike is committed to continuing to demonstrate outstanding leadership and represent the people’s voice in while in office.
He hails from a solid background in the areas of politics and public safety, owing to his profession as a Union Representative, his training as lead staff person for various elected offices, and a successful career as a former police officer.
Mike currently serves as district director to Chairman Jerome E. Horton, the first African-American elected to the California State Board of Equalization, and whose district currently serves 8.5 million residents. He formerly served as an Area organizer for the 48,000-strong United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), where he ensures the enforcement of the contractual right of teachers. Prior to working for UTLA, he was the Legislative and Political Director for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 399, the Political Director Statewide for Justice for Janitors 1877 SEIU and a Business Representative for SEIU Local 99.
June 05, 2014
By Torré Brannon-Reese
LAWT Contributing Writer
Imagine being a child, 7, 8, 9 years old. You were born in Belize, Cuba, Trinidad, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Guatemala, or somewhere else in the beautiful Caribbean Islands, or Central America. Suddenly, your mother leaves home, is gone for a year, maybe two or three; finally, she comes back to get you and takes you to this wonderful place called America! America, that far-way land you’ve heard of, where everybody is free, eternally happy, and rich beyond your wildest dreams.
Well, the reality for hundreds of thousands of “innocent children”, many now full grown adults, is a life devoid of true freedom. The reality is that hundreds of thousands of innocent/immigrants live their lives in a state of constant fear of deportation. Deportation from America, back to a land they know nothing about and have no emotional connection to. Hundreds of thousands of “undocumented citizens”, many who have been in this country for 20, 30 and 40 years, live in constant fear that one day, they will be stripped away from their children, family, friends and loved ones, and forcibly taken away from the only life they’ve ever known. Their lives are eerily similar to that of millions of innocent enslaved Africans in America, who lived their lives in this same state of fear and “perceived freedom”.
The assumption for the majority of us who are of African descent, is that this is a “Mexican” or “Latino” issue. And many of “us”, due to our cultural/historical ignorance, acquired racial prejudice and or social/political apathy, turn a blind eye toward this issue, as if it does not affect us. We need to think again, because, guess what, it affects us (Black people) in more ways than one. If nothing else, our political behavior (I’m generalizing with intelligence) on this issue has helped to define our national image in ways most of us, do not even understand.
As we run scared that the “illegals” (as our ancestors were called) are taking away our jobs, we naturally align ourselves politically with right wing conservatives/segregationist who have never had our best interest at heart, and who use us as political footballs based upon our own prejudices, ignorance and media inspired fears.
As a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, I am proud to know that my historical lineage not only goes back to Africa, yet, my bloodline connects me to the triumphant Haiti people. This due to the influx of Haitians, migrating into New Orleans after their revolution and independence from France in the early 1800’s.
Yet, this writing is not so concerned about the “politics”, as it is about the “human” side of this issue. As people of color who (should be) knowledgeable and appreciative of our history, I’d think we’d be particularly concerned and actively involved in helping to create meaningful, respectful solutions on this issue. The unfortunate argument that immigrants hurt employment opportunities for low skilled, marginally educated Blacks, has been adopted by right wing conservatives as their mantra, and again, further promotes an image of Black men as helpless, pitiful victims, who in 200 years, have failedto make progress in American society. Sadly, these same so-called, “second class human beings”, are tricked into fighting against other low-skilled, marginalized, economically/politically exploited class of persons, or, Latinos.
Historically, the greatest among us, knowing the power of coalition building and cultural bonding, have consciously reached out to our brothers and sisters of color in the Diaspora; people such as, W.E.B.DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Paul Robeson, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King, were all in search of positive and productive relationships amongst people of color; who comprise the majority (not minority) of the human beings on the planet.
I imagine that if Dr. King were still alive, he would fight with all his power against the devilish deportation/slave treatment of innocent, law abiding, tax-paying citizens, whose only crime was being born in Another Country.
Innocent Black Immigrants
And if Malcolm X were here, I am confident that he would point a stern finger at his people; who, in
2014, still have our hands stretched out, begging our former slave masters for hand-outs!
My feeling is that Malcolm would be about the business of focusing our energies/attention on “ownership” and the building of our own economic and political systems and institutions.
What a shameful thing we do to the legacies of our ancestors, when we waste time & talent, hating on other political victims, who, by the way, actually own the spiritual birthright to this land we call America.
My hope and prayer is that we become actively involved in this grand, international struggle for human dignity. Further, and as a realistic/optimist, I do believe that as more of our close friends and family members are affected by this unfortunate phenomenon, we will get involved.
As far as I am concerned, the current Black Immigration reality is not unlike that of our slave era experience. The free, northern born Negroes, enjoying access to education, jobs and opportunity, had a choice, they could stand idly by, and watch our southern born brothers and sisters suffer the indignities of chattel slavery; or they could do as sister Harriet Tubman did, and fight for the freedom of their people. I stand with Harriet, where so you stand?
It is our responsibility, as a people who were formally “forced immigrants”, to preserve and honor our legacy. Our legacy is one of compassion, kindness, self-education and courageous action. Let’s honor our legacy, get involved.
May 29, 2014
LAWT News Service
On Friday, May 16, more than 750 guests attended the California Science Center’s 16th annual Discovery Ball. As part of the festivities, guests experienced an ancient city at the height of the Roman Empire as they previewed the west coast premiere of Pompeii: The Exhibition. From the Science Center they were transported by “chariot” to the entrance of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which was transformed into a lush, Pompeii garden villa where they were treated to an Italian dinner by candlelight. While dining, guests were entertained by a harpist and pan flautist, followed by a small army of gladiators who made a grand entrance and lit the historic Olympic torch.
The annual black-tie gala, a philanthropic event, raised more than $1.35 million to benefit the California Science Center Foundation through table sponsorships, a live auction conducted by NBC4 Fritz Coleman, and a raffle for a Lexus RC F performance coupe. Science Center President, Jeffrey Rudolph noted that, “Proceeds from this fundraiser enable us to continue providing exceptional science learning and education opportunities for our community.”
The Science Center’s annual gala has been recognized as a “virtual who’s who of the Los Angeles business community” by the Los Angeles Business Journal. Among the gala guests were community and business leaders as well as elected officials at local, state and federal levels including: State Controller John Chiang; Congresswoman Maxine Waters; City Council President Herb Wesson; Councilman Curren Price; County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas; Assemblyman Reggie Jones Sawyer; Assemblyman Richard Bloom; and Assemblyman Steve Bradford; former astronaut Daniel Olivas; and celebrities Debbie Allen and her husband, former NBA star Norm Nixon.
Gala co-chairs Anne Shen Smith, past Chairman and CEO of Southern California Gas Company and Robert S. Carter, Senior Vice President – Automotive Operations of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc. presided over the program.
Another highlight of the evening was the transformation of the Samuel Oschin Pavilion into an out-of-this-world night club with Space Shuttle Endeavour as the centerpiece. Guests also enjoyed a private screening of the IMAX film “Forces of Nature.”
Top donors to the Discovery Ball were Wells Fargo and Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc.