Omaha judge failed to read appeal petition filed by COINTELPRO prisoner

Omaha judge failed to read appeal petition filed by COINTELPRO prisoner

Omaha Judge James Gleason missed claim of innocence in appeal

Omaha Judge James Gleason missed claim of innocence in appeal
Official photo/Nebraska Supreme Court

Documents obtained from the Nebraska Supreme Court reveal that Douglas County District Judge James Gleason overlooked a plea of “actual innocence” in a post-conviction appeal and based his denial of a new trial, in part, on the missed paragraph. The snafu occurred in the case of Mondo we Langa (former David Rice) who is serving a life sentence for the 1970 murder of an Omaha policeman. Mondo and his co-defendant, Edward Poindexter, were convicted in a trial manipulated by J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the infamous COINTELPRO counterintelligence operation.

Judge Gleason cannot use the excuse he was in a hurry when he missed Mondo’s claim of innocence, after having waited more than a year to hold a hearing on the appeal. Mondo filed for judicial review on Sept. 28, 2012 but Gleason waited until Oct. 1, 2013 to take the matter up before issuing a perfunctory denial on Dec. 20 citing the lack of an “actual innocence” pleading.

The claim of innocence missed by Gleason was authored by Omaha attorney Timothy Ashford who filed the appeal petition on behalf of Mondo we Langa. Ashford addressed the glaring error by Gleason in an appeal brief and tactfully stated, “The court misread the language.”

What Ashford wrote that Gleason apparently did not read was a necessary element in the pleadings to overcome the statute of limitations. The claim of innocence was expressly stated:

“Defendant Rice [Mondo] is entitled to a new trial because he did not commit the crime charged and he is not guilty of the crime leading to the death of Officer Minard in 1970, and further, the defendant’s presumption of innocence was lost as a result of the errors alleged herein.”

Judge Gleason buttressed his opinion by citing several unpublished out-of-state cases. Unpublished decisions lack precedential value and are rarely cited in judicial opinions. Tim Ashford described the inadequate citations as both irrelevant and reversible error.

Mondo we Langa and Ed Poindexter were the leaders of the Omaha affiliate chapter of the Black Panther Party called the National Committee to Combat Fascism. The pair were targets of the Omaha police, the FBI, and agents of the Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Division. J. Edgar Hoover ordered the FBI Laboratory to withhold a report on the identity of the 911 caller that lured police to a bomb ambush in order to make a case against the two men. Both men have consistently proclaimed their innocence at every opportunity.

The United Nations Human Rights Council has been asked to investigate the case and Mondo has a pending appeal before the Nebraska Supreme Court. No date for a decision has been set.

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