By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and published on May 28, 2021
The fight for criminal justice for innocent persons of color in the Deep South has always been a long and difficult road. On April 22, 2021, Montgomery, Alabama attorney Mark Englehart filed my Opening Appellate Brief with the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta to overturn the wrongful conviction modern-day COINTELPRO federal prosecutors secured against me for wire, mail, and bank fraud in March 2019 in Birmingham, Alabama federal court.
The Brief is free of the usual taint spewed by local Birmingham-area news reporters like John Archibald and Kyle Whitmire, both of whom served the same journalistic function in covering my case for AL.com that their predecessors in the Birmingham-area news media served during the height of the FBI's racist and centralized COINTELPRO program against civil rights activists in Alabama during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.
In 2015 and 2016, career federal prosecutors in Newark, New Jersey conducted a six-month objective review of the same business transactions that gave rise to the fraud charges Birmingham, Alabama-based modern-day COINTELPRO federal prosecutors lodged against me. The New Jersey federal prosecutors declined to indict me after carefully reviewing the evidence set forth in my Opening Brief, while the Birmingham prosecutors targeted me for persecution and prosecution as soon as they assumed office in 2017. They added my innocent son as a co-defendant in the futile hopes of pressuring me into a plea deal. Lead Birmingham federal prosecutor Lloyd Peeples and his family have a long and ugly record of open hostility to women and African Americans, dating back to the 1970s (for his father) and 1980s (for himself).
The Brief speaks for itself.
Mark Englehart is a true friend and the best appellate attorney in America. Mark sat by my side during my three-week February-March trial every day.
Enjoy your reading this Memorial Holiday weekend! Click here to read the Opening Brief.
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