Where is the justice for Kevin Cooper?

By: Crystal Bybee and Pat Foley

In May 2009, Kevin Cooper was denied a hearing of the full court by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  However, Kevin got support from 11 justices, a substantial minority, who signed powerful dissents against the denial.

Judge Fletcher, who wrote the main dissenting opinion, began with these words: “The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man.”

His dissent describes in great detail (101 pages long) the case for Kevin’s innocence; the tampering, planting and mishandling of evidence, police and prosecution misconduct, and the constitutional violations. It also details the way in which the Anti-terrorist Effective Death Penalty Act, signed by Bill Clinton in 1996, has stood in the way of justice in his case.

The powerful dissent has resulted in new attention to the case, including a recent front-page New York Times article.

Kevin is renewed in his strength to fight as a result of the acknowledgment of his innocence by the justices.  The denial does, however, mean that if the U.S. Supreme Court decides not to hear his case -- which could be as early as this fall -- and the state of California resumes executions, which have been on hold during the lethal injection challenge, Kevin could once again be in danger of execution.

The CEDP has a longstanding relationship with Kevin, and is working with him and other activists to rebuild a coalition for this struggle.  As he stated: “I, Kevin Cooper, am asking you to get involved in a life-and-death struggle. This struggle is not just about me. Even though the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals just denied my petition, if you read the 101-page dissent, you will see that many of the judges acknowledged my innocence.  They write that the evidence was tampered with, and that my constitutional rights were violated. I have been fighting, and will continue to fight. And am asking you to fight, too.”

Kevin is an avid abolitionist and is looking forward to the day when he is free and out here fighting with us. For more information and articles by Kevin, and for a link to the dissent, visit savekevincooper.org.