Justice in the Long Halls: Jarvis Masters’ Hearing — Day 2

5 January 2011

Today’s session ran from 10 to 12, then broke until tomorrow when further witnesses will be called. Jarvis looked alert and relaxed when we came in. He is still shackled, except for his left, writing hand.  Looks like this will be the daily protocol throughout the hearing.

The first matter of business was a curious and often inaudible verbal scrimmage between an attorney for the San Francisco Police Department and the defense team, with Judge Duryee tossing in her own questions.  At root, there seem to be several sets of documents relating to a 1988 SF murder I mentioned yesterday.  The link between this murder and the conviction of Jarvis Masters is that a central witness against Jarvis was himself an uncharged suspect in this murder.  (More about this later.)  The documents involved were never shared with Jarvis’s original trail defense. The questions raised were about whether, even now, the defense has all the documents in the file.  As best I could tell, they didn’t know, nor did the judge, the attorney for SFPD, or the State’s Attorney.  The upshot is that Judge Duryee instructed an immediate document review, which was conducted in another room by a lawyer for defense and a State’s Attorney.

Following this business, Chris Andrian presented three witnesses: the lead prosecutor in the original trial, and two former members of the Oakland police intelligence squad.  All the testimony pertained to one key witness against Jarvis, a BGF member who had been a long-time paid informant and, at one time, a leading suspect in that 1988 SF murder.

The first witness, the original prosecutor, affirmed that he neither knew this witness had been a police informant.  Nor did he have any knowledge of this person’s possible involvement in the 88 SF murder.  The two other witnesses for the day testified to their knowledge and working relationship with the informant and their awareness of his status as a suspect in that 88 murder. With no further witnesses scheduled, the court adjourned until tomorrow morning.

It is hard to write about this without sharing the fine details that emerge in documents and testimony. But since this seems to me inappropriate, I am sketching it as best I can.  Several things come to mind.  First, that the Jarvis Masters team is building its case, step by step, demonstrating how secrecy and manipulation can are the enemy of any kind of justice.  Second, it is amazing to follow the paper trail, the complex sequence and relationship between documents — discovered and undiscovered — and our actions in the world.  A trial, or in this case a hearing, is about dueling narratives.  These narratives are based on words written and words remembered.

And finally, as I observed yesterday, all the principles in court, except for Jarvis (and one corrections officer there for security) are white.  Mostly white men.  Some on one side, some on the other.  This includes all the police officers seen over the last two days. I draw no firm conclusions from this, aside from noting where power and authority appear to rest in the legal system and in this country as a whole.

Again, others present are welcome to share comments and corrections.

A few other notes:

• The hearing continues at 10 AM tomorrow, Thursday.

• There will be NO hearing this coming Friday, Jan 7th.

• Next week there are likely to be one or more days without hearings, depending on the availability and transportation of witnesses. I will let you know the schedule.

• Please do come and attend the hearing, support Jarvis. Contact me if you have questions.

• Meanwhile, if you haven’t done so, see www.freejarvis.org

• People on Facebook can check and join the <Free Jarvis Masters> group.

—Alan Senauke

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About asenauke

Zen Buddhist priest, activist, writer, father, musician
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One Response to Justice in the Long Halls: Jarvis Masters’ Hearing — Day 2

  1. Rinchen Wangmo says:

    Hi,
    The link for the “Free Jarvis” website leads to a 404 page.
    This is the correct URL: http://freejarvis.org/
    Metta,
    Rinchen

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