Letters

Conspicuously absent from Noel's list of witnesses presented by the defense in 1995 was Robert Harkins—who undoubtedly was an eyewitness to the murder. In fact, Mr. Weinglass places him "closest to the shooting." Though Harkins filed a witness statement the morning of the shooting, he was not called by either side to testify in 1982. For 15 years, Harkins refused to speak to either side. Then, in 1995, the defense put Harkins on the stand under the guise of asking him about photos of suspects the police had allegedly shown him. Dan Williams, one of Abu-Jamal's attorneys, asked Harkins what had happened. Harkins said the shooter stood over my husband as he lay wounded, unarmed, and helpless on the sidewalk, shot him point-blank in the face, and then "walked and sat down on the curb." The stunned Mr. Williams asked Harkins: "The guy that done the shooting walked and sat down on the curb?" Harkins replied: "Yes, on the pavement." Harkins's testimony corroborates the testimony of the four prosecution eyewitnesses (including Cynthia White, mentioned by Noel, who allegedly was coerced by police), and completely destroys Mr. Noel's "Fleeing Man" theory. But not a word of Harkins in Noel's article.

Finally, in 1998, after reviewing the actual facts of my husband's murder for more than three years, the nine-member Supreme Court of Pennsylvania unanimously agreed that there was no credible evidence or testimony pointing to Abu-Jamal's innocence. It also unanimously confirmed the fairness of the trial proceedings and the appropriateness of Judge Albert Sabo's conduct when he tried to maintain order in his courtroom during the relentless and contemptuous temper tantrums and disruptions by Abu-Jamal. In its decision, the Supreme Court also chastised Abu-Jamal's attorneys no less than half a dozen times, stating that "Appellant's recitation of the trial evidence was distorted or incomplete." The Supreme Court called the defense's corruption and coercion evidence "absurd."

Apparently, none of this is important to Mr. Noel.

Maureen Faulkner
Los Angeles, California


Howe Now

After reading Jeff Howe's story about the Rall v. Hellman lawsuit ["Drawn to Battle," November 30], one can't help but come away with the impression that Howe is most impressed with his "brilliant" and "charming" friend Ted Rall.

One also can't help but come away from the story with an inaccurate picture of the case; please allow me to clear up a couple of points: First, Howe writes that I "called [Rall's] bluff" after receiving a cease and desist letter from Rall's attorney on August 6. I provided Rall with an apology, a retraction, a statement in which I took full responsibility for the e-mail prank he's suing me over, and a list of the recipients of that prank, and did so within 24 hours of receipt of the cease and desist letter. I can't imagine how I can be seen as having called his bluff. The only demand of Rall's I did not immediately comply with was his request that I call his lawyer to discuss payment of damages ($20,000). At that time I was shopping around for an attorney, and felt that contacting Rall's lawyer without first having retained my own counsel would be ill-advised. As soon as I did retain an attorney (Andrew Krents, Esq.), his first action was to contact Rall's lawyer and offer a settlement (which was declined). Second, Howe writes that the TedRallsBalls@OneList.com prank was available on the Web for all the world to see; this is not true. The prank message was sent to a private list of approximately 30 friends and acquaintances, and was not accessible to the general public. At one point, Rall's attorney attempted to gain access to the list; as moderator of the list, I was able to deny his request for access, and did so. Finally, I'd like to let anyone who is interested know that the full text of this now-legendary prank is available for viewing at my Web site, along with my apology to Rall, Rall's response to my apology, plus a press release that Rall sent out to the media concurrent with the filing of his lawsuit. The URL is: http://www.dannyhellman.com.

Danny Hellman
Manhattan

Jeff Howe replies: I wasn't terribly impressed by either Hellman or Rall, as I thought I made clear by portraying the suit as a needless, hubristic grudge match. Hellman evidently found my piece evenhanded enough to label it an "objective" media story on his Web site, so I'm a little bewildered by this accusation of bias. As to his specific issues: First, in Rall's original cease and desist letter he threatened legal action if his demands were not met "on or before the close of business day on Monday, August 9." One of his demands was that Hellman or his attorney contact Rall's lawyer "to discuss a potential monetary settlement of Mr. Rall's claims against you." Hellman's lawyer contacted Rall's lawyer on August 12 with a take-it-or-leave-it offer of $1000. This settlement offer was three days after Rall's deadline. In other words, Hellman failed to comply with Rall's demands; in other words, he called his bluff. Second, OneList.com allows list administrators to make their list either public or private. RallsBalls, however briefly, was public, as evinced by a printed copy of the site provided me by Paul Levenson—Rall's attorney—on the date he unsuccessfully applied for membership to the list. Membership was not required to view the contents of Rall's, um, Balls.

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