Lawyering for the People: Kevin Cooper, the Death Penalty & Mass Incarceration
A panel presented by the San Francisco Law School & UC Hastings Chapters of the National Lawyers Guild
When: Friday, November 6, 2015
Where: UC Hastings College of Law, Room A, 198 McAllister Street, San Francisco, CA
Time: 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Please join our esteemed panel for a discussion of the legal issues surrounding the wrongful conviction of Kevin Cooper, the death penalty and mass incarceration of People of Color.

In 1983, Kevin Cooper was convicted and sentenced to death row for the killing of a family of four in Chino Hills, San Bernardino County. He has maintained his innocence since his arrest. Mr. Cooper was scheduled to be executed in 2004, but was granted a stay of execution by the 9th Circuit. On May 11, 2009, his petition for habeas corpus was denied en banc, upon which five judges of the 9th Circuit dissented, stating that they believed he was innocent based on evidence tampering by the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department.


KEVIN COOPER–Mr. Cooper will be participating on the panel from San Quentin.

AMIR VARICK AMMA, Organizer, All of Us or None–Mr. Amma is a survivor of New York State’s draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws, and was wrongfully sentenced to 25 years to life. After serving over 19 years, Mr. Amma was released from prison and earned his BA in Social Work from Lehman College. Mr. Amma has over 20 years of experience as a community activist for such organizations as ComAlert, the Drug Policy Alliance, and Samaritan Village out of NY.

BICKA BARLOW, Law Office of Bicka Barlow–
Prior to establishing her private law practice specializing in forensic DNA evidence, Ms. Barlow was the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office sole DNA Attorney for 8 years, and Research Attorney for the San Francisco Superior Court. She received her BS in Genetics from UC Berkeley, MS in Genetics and Developmental Biology from Cornell University, and JD from the University of San Francisco School of Law.

NORMAN C. HILE, Senior Counsel, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe–
Mr. Hile has represented Mr. Cooper since 2003. Mr. Hile served on the Ninth Circuit Advisory Board from 2007 to 2011, and as Chair of the Judicial Advisory Board, Eastern District of California from 1998 to 2000. He received his BA from Yale University and JD from Columbia University.

CAROLE SELIGMAN, Kevin Cooper Defense Committee–
Ms. Seligman is a retired elementary school teacher, parent and grandparent, is a member of the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, the co-editor of Socialist Viewpoint magazine, and the office manager at Prison Radio.

For additional information, please contact San Francisco Law School NLG Representative Tarina Yasmoothr at tarinalarsen@gmail.com.


San Francisco Event Features Distributing Pizza to the Poor and Sister Helen Prejean–October 10, 2015

Prejean Event Poster10-10-15


Pope Francis’ Address to September 24, 2015 Joint Session of Congress

Pope Francis made an impassioned plea Thursday for the U.S. to abolish the death penalty in his address to Congress.

The pope has long been an opponent of capital punishment and has also spoken out against life imprisonment.

“I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes,” he said.

Bishops and priests in the U.S. recently called for the death penalty to be abolished, a push Francis said he supports, mainly because a “just” punishment should “never” forget “hope.”

Here are his full comments below:

“The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development. This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.”

In the U.S., capital punishment remains legal in 31 states, and as of July 2015, 3,002 inmates were awaiting execution across the country.

California Defends Its Review Process in Appeal to Preserve the Death Penalty

A federal appeals panel on Monday heard the state’s argument against a 2014 ruling that could bring a reprieve to all the inmates on death row in California.


California death-penalty delays put on trial

By Howard Mintz

In a case that may be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, a federal appeals court on Monday will review a ruling last year declaring California’s ‘dysfunctional’ death penalty law unconstitutional because of systemic delays in a state with more than a quarter of the nation’s condemned inmates.  2015-8-31 6:56:00 A.M.


Pope Francis meets with Buddhist leaders: “these small gestures are seeds of peace”2015-06-24

A dialogue between Catholic and Buddhist religious and social action leaders began today at the Vatican. Pope Francis stopped by the meeting, and Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran gave a welcoming address.

“We have been engaged in discussing how to collaborate together in a world of divisions.”

The Pope then made some brief remarks that were translated to English as he spoke.

“It is a visit of fraternity, of dialogue, and of friendship. And this is good. This is healthy. And in these moments, which are wounded by war and hatred, these small gestures are seeds of peace and fraternity. I thank you for this and may God bless you.”

As he went to greet everyone, Pope Francis was overwhelmed with gifts: from different kinds of artwork to books.

The 46 participants all live in America. They came from New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

“Your Holiness, thank you for your leadership.”

While receiving gifts, the Pope also gave blessings.

And the Pope himself received a Buddhist blessing.

“Holy Father, this is a Buddhist blessing.”

In the past, dialogues between the two religious groups focused on mutual understanding. However, in this meeting, the focus is on how they can work together to address social problems.

Pope Francis clearly enjoyed the event, as he was beaming on his way out of the meeting.

The dialogue will take place from June 23rd to 27th. It is being hosted by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Rev. Alan Senauke, of California People of Faith Working Against the Death Penalty, was part of the delegation. His remarks on the meeting follow below.

Rev. Alan Senauke on his meeting with Pope Francis. June 24, 2015

Our dialogue group of about fifty had a wonderful audience with Pope Francis yesterday. He met each one of us with presence and warmth, taking a moment to touch and to listen. A true human, deeply ordinary in the best sense of the word. I was privileged to be there and to hand Pope Francis a letter from California People of Faith Working Against the Death Penalty asking him to speak out against the madness of capital punishment in California and everywhere…more later.

Senauke-Pope-Francis picture


Opportunity for Matching Funds

One of our members has committed $500 in matching funds. Whatever you contribute will be matched up to $500. This is a great time to contribute to our efforts to end the death penalty in California and in the United States.  All contributions are fully deductible.

Letter from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, U.S. Apostolic Nuncio

May 14, 2015


The Death Penalty Ends in Nebraska



Why death penalty is dying a slow death

—George F. Will, San Jose Mercury News, Thursday, May 21, 2015, page A17



Marty Stroud, Prosecutor Who Put Innocent Man on Death Row: ‘Whole System Is Fatally Flawed’

Huffington Post Crime, April 1, 2015



Pope: Death Penalty Represents ‘Failure,’ Fosters Vengeance

—Frances D’Emilio, Associated press, March 20, 2015



Editorial: Catholic publications call for end to capital punishment

New Organization Formed to Oppose the Death Penalty


Mission Statement:  We, Clergy Against State Executions, (brothers and sisters) come together to empower California’s diverse faith communities to end the death penalty through advocacy, education and prayer.


Pope Francis calls for the end of the death penalty as well as the practice of sentencing people to life without possibility of parole, “the hidden death penalty.”!!!


 Rally at California Supreme Court

On October 10th, 2014 the San Francisco Bay Area CPF Chapter led a rally at the Supreme Court Building in San Francisco, California. This group focussed on the injustice of executing the mentally ill.


20141010-_DM30283-SF demo

20141010-_48A0074-SF demo























World Day Against the Death Penalty

On October 5th, 2014, the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of CPF observed WORLD DAY AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY by hosting a demonstration on Lytton Plaza in Palo Alto California. Speakers included Father River Damien Sims, Rick Walker, an exoneree released from San Quentin’s death row, Mary Kay Raftery, mother of a murder victim (pictured below) and Gerard McGuire with California People of Faith.

Chris Lundin and the Raging Grannies provided musical entertainment. For more pictures, see Local Chapter Action page.

Mother of murder victim.