Kathryn Johnston Murder: Atlanta Police Refuse to Release Records
The Atlanta Citizens Review Board (CRB) subpoenaed and gained records related to the murder of 92-year-old Atlanta woman, Kathryn Johnston. The African American elder was gunned down in her home on November 21, 2006, by former Atlanta police officers in the world's worst no-knock warrant case. The International Brotherhood of Police Officers filed a lawsuit to get the records back from CRB, alleging that CRB should not have been given access to the Johnston records due to current investigations regarding other officers in the department.
This article begins with its update. The original article dated 7/7/09 follows. Please read the original article to be fully updated on the Kathryn Johnston Matter as well as The Cochran Firm Fraud against the family of Larry Neal, deceased African American handicapped man, who died under Gauantanamo-style secret arrest in Memphis Shelby County Jail in 2003.
UPDATE - 7/09/09 - The CRB was granted the records [by GA Sup. Ct.]
The Sunday Paper - 7/08/09
Excerpt from Ramage's Report
Shoob ruled against the motion by the IBPO and in favor of the Citizen Review Board on which the president of the League of Women Voters serves. Her reasoning was that the IBPO’s request for an injunction to stop the sharing of the documents came too late—the Atlanta Police Department had already shared the documents, she said.
The interference against my posting this article about Kathryn Johnston murder records was more intense than any since early January when I wrote an article and blog regarding Oscar Grant, the first unarmed black man police killed in 2009. It took hours to post the Oscar Grant article here at NP. At Care2, the cyberstalker only allowed a picture of the young man and a title in my blog after hours of fighting. I left it there like that to show the censorship (too late to remove it -- already have film, printout, and witnesses).
In any case, I am a firm believer that ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL (I would have made that declaration in red if I could have done so.) The Atlanta Citizens Review Board was granted rights to the Ms. Johnston's murder records, so I have no need to fight cyberstalkers over posting this article or plan how to address the records being withheld. The info herein should encourage Judge Shoob to refrain from further work on the Johnston matter. If readers learn anything about the status or final resolution of Ms. Johnston's family's civil action case before this writer does, please share your findings in the comments field below.
I saw no record of the Johnston suit having been filed in Ga Sup. Ct., so I will check USDC. I suppose The Cochran Firm filed suit somewhere, this time. All the news reports say that suit was filed on 11/21/2007, exactly one year after Ms. Johnston was murdered. Of course, mainstream news is what it is. Georgia Superior Court's records search result is below, searching for suit filed any date after 11/21/2006, the date of her murder.
Sorry, there were no matches for your inquiry. You may use your browser to back up to the inquiry form and revise your entry or you may return to the search type selection page.
Sarah Dozier was Ms. Johnston's niece, the plaintiff who news reports indicate actually filed the family's lawsuit through The Cochran Firm. Below is a report on the lawsuit by NPR - Public Broadcasting Atlanta. I trust public broadcasting a fraction of an inch more than commercial mainstream news sources, although public media never reported The Cochran Firm Fraud, either (despite my several lengthy telephone interviews with NPR). You will notice that although the police officers broke into the old lady's home and shot her like a rabid dog, the suit did not charge "wrongful death" according to NPR.
JOHNSTON FAMILY SUES ATLANTA, POLICE
ATLANTA, GA (WABE) - Today, exactly one year after 92-year old Kathryn Johnston was shot by Atlanta police in her Neal Street home, her family is suing. The suit claims that Atlanta and its police department encouraged corruption, which led to Johnston's death. Lawyers from the Cochran firm, who represent Johnston's niece in the case, wouldn't specify how much money they'll seek in damages. Attorney Shean Williams says their priority is to stop the violation of citizens' civil rights by a police department he characterized as:
WILLIAMS: A system that had a widespread and persistent practice of allowing and encouraging its officers to violate the constitution and civil rights of its citizens, including Ms. Johnston, in order to meet illegal, mandatory performance quotas. The suit also claims that the City failed to hold APD accountable for its actions, and to provide adequate training. Johnston was killed in a botched drug raid on her home. Two former officers are due to report to jail in the coming weeks, and a third has been indicted.
So there we have it: a negligence lawsuit, reportedly, not wrongful death. See what I mean? That is a minor allegation for breaking and entering and murder.
Below is the docket link for the first Cochran Firm Fraud case, which was filed in Ga. Sup. Ct. ---- Neals v. The Cochran Firm. http://www.fcclkjudicialsearch.org/JudicialSearch/Scripts/UVlink.isa/tsgdb1/WEBSERV/PUBCivilSearch?action%253Dview%26track%253D521729
I note that the following two facts:
1) The case is listed as "tort/negligence." My coversheet names "Tort - malpractice/fraud." FRAUD is a designation that neither Georgia Superior Court nor USDC would acknowledge for the Neal's lawsuit. When plaintiffs pay hundreds of dollars to file suit, one would think the courts would not edit plaintiff's charges, but both courts did in The Cochran Firm Fraud. Have you ever seen me refer to this other than as a "fraud" matter? But I suppose that word is too strong and very simple to prove in our case, so the powers that be decided the Neals could not use it. Who ever heard of someone's lawsuit being censored? Are there any judges who will not give the indication of working with or for these people? If so, I hope the Neals get one next time.
2) The Cochran Firm's lawyers are not listed on our docket. I cannot blame them for wanting to remain incognito after helping to dog out an 80-year-old grieving mom by putting forward perjury in court. They are Carlyle, Copeland, Semlar & Stair, with Mr. Stair a lead attorney. I have to check for accuracy against my records. We were notified about "lost" pleadings. Ironically, the Fulton County Superior Court Clerk was able to retire after Neals v. The Cochran Firm - young, too. The Clerk's office (a) assigns judges and (2) handles the court's file. (We wound up with Judge Shoob, likely the only judge on the GA Sup. Ct. with a prior history presiding over a wrongful death by Memphis police case, and pleadings supposedly came up "missing" in the Neals v. Cochran Firm matter - although they were hole-punched and secured in the court's file folder and were not able to be viewed without a clerk present. )
Hopefully, suit was really filed for Johnston's survivors. One might expect the news report to name the court where suit was filed, but the ones I read so far do not. At the link below is backgound information on Kathryn Johnston's murder by ReasonOnline.com
Original Article - July 7, 2009 -
ATLANTA POLICE HOPE THAT JUDGE SHOOB will rule that they do not have to release records on Kathryn Johnston's murder. Atlanta's Citizens Review Board subpoenaed records related to the police murder of the 92-year-old Atlanta woman. The Board was established after the African American elderly woman was gunned down in her home in the world's worse case of no-knock warrants in November 2006. Obviously, it was not intended for the Citizens Review Board to actually do its job and investigate her murder. See the excerpt of a report by The Sunday Paper below:
Tuesday, July 07, 2009, 12:36 PM News
By Stephanie Ramage
The Sunday Paper
The International Brotherhood of Police Officers filed a lawsuit Monday to stop the release of investigative files to the Atlanta Citizens Review Board, citing the Georgia Open Records Act. The Atlanta Police Department, however, complying with a subpoena from Atlanta City Council, had already released the documents that very day. The APD released the following statement at 6:11 p.m. today: "The Atlanta Police Department has released information relating to the Kathryn Johnston case to Council Member Felicia Moore pursuant to the June 15, 2009 subpoena on today July 7, 2009.
Council Member Felecia Moore will forward all received documents to the Citizens Review Board accordingly. The Department has released this information pursuant to a subpoena which was applied for by the Citizens Review Board pursuant to City Ordinance and was issued by the Atlanta City Council's Committee on Council accordingly. Despite the release of this information to the Committee on Council and to the Citizen Review Board (which are both entities within City of Atlanta Government) pursuant to subpoena, the documents remain part of an open internal investigation of the Atlanta Police Department, and thus are not subject to disclosure under the Open Records Act."
According to the IBPO's motion for a restraining order, divulgence of such records would result in "irreparable harm" to those under investigation. "The CRB has requested documents pertinent to a pending investigation simultaneously with investigations being conducted by internal affairs and the district attorney's office," says IBPO attorney David Beall. "What we don't want is partial evidence in the middle of investigation to be made public which could then be used against the subject of the investigation." (See the rest of the article at the link above.)
The news report also states that the CRB must decide whether to hire its own attorney or use one provided by the government. This writer suggests that CRB hire its own lawyers always, and be extra careful about those selected. It is not enough to check credentials and check with the State Bar for complaints or sanctions.
In some cases, the State Bars work with the powers that be to prevent disclosure of unethical and even illegal conduct on the part of attorneys. For instance, The Cochran Firm in Atlanta is also known as Cochran Cherry Givens Smith & Sistrunk, P.C. The Firm filed lawsuits under that name and conducted much other legal business for its clients as a "P.C." It had a website with that name, but is not and never was organized in the State of Georgia. No company or law firm can be a "professional corporation" and have a right to wear that suffix without appearing on the Secretary of State's list of corporations. The identity is bogus, and the Georgia Bar knew and allowed it. Even if the Bar did not check lawyers' credentials enough to know about the hoax, which is shameful, it knows now. Yet, it is doubtful that The Cochran Firm was censured for that false representation which was carried forward to the public and the firm's clients for years before this writer exposed The Cochran Firm Fraud.
Furthermore, it is doubtful that the State of Georgia censured the law firm, although if I put "M.D." behind my name and began treating patients, I would be fined and arrested. Therefore, the CRB and any citizens review board must be careful about the attorneys they choose and conduct thorough checks beyond the usual, because governmental authorities collude to deny due process of law when citizens are abused or killed by police officers, and the collusion involves many parties.
The Atlanta Police Department demands its records on the Kathryn Johnston murder back from the CRB, saying that they should not have been released due to active investigations. I believe if Atlanta PD really had other officers under investigation regarding Ms. Johnston’s murder, suspects would have already either been cleared or arrested. Now that the Atlanta Citizens Review Board has the police records, Atlanta PD suddenly reports an ongoing investigation.
It has been over 2.5 years since Ms. Johnston's murder. If investigations took that long to either prosecute or clear suspects, the jails would be empty and prison profiteers would be mad. Perhaps this was said because Atlanta PD recognized that by reading the records, the CRB would see evidence that some other officers certainly deserve investigation and criminal prosecution.
JUDGE WENDY SHOOB IS TO PRESIDE OVER THE HEARING FOR A MOTION FILED BY THE POLICE TO KEEP HIDING MS. KATHRYN JOHNSTON'S RECORDS
Larry Neal's and Kathryn Johnston's deaths were both caused by police. Both were African Americans whose families contracted with The Cochran Firm as their wrongful death attorneys. The Cochran Firm tricked my 80-year-old grieving mother into a contract they never intended to honor by doing any legal services. The farce continued for nearly a year until I asked to see our file. When the firm could produce zero work done and we discovered the attorneys were actually working FOR the jail against us to prevent our lawsuit, the Neals sued The Cochran Firm for fraud.
Shoob is the same judge who presided over the case of Neals v. The Cochran Firm in Georgia Superior Court. Judge Shoob dismissed the Neals' fraud case against The Cochran Firm, saying the law firm did not exist in Georgia. Why is she still on the bench?
The plan was probably to have Shoob as the judge for Johston's civil action suit, too. Police and courts and The Cochran Firm seemingly had it all together working against justice regarding black citizens being murdered by police. Reporter Ramage believes that Judge Shoob should recuse herself, but the reporter has no idea of the main reason why Shoob should do so, thanks in large part to censorship by Cox Enterprises, Inc. and other mainstream media. See Ramage's article excerpt below.
WHY JUDGE SHOOB SHOULD RECUSE HERSELF FROM CRB HEARING
The Sunday Paper
Tuesday, July 07, 2009, 8:54 PM News,
Opinion, Politics By Stephanie Ramage
Tomorrow morning at 10 a.m., Fulton County Superior Court Judge Wendy Shoob is scheduled to preside over a hearing for a motion filed by the International Brotherhood of Police Officers against the Citizen Review Board to stop the board from having access to documents related to ongoing investigations of crimes involving police officers.
Shoob should recuse herself. She's a member of the League of Women Voters, and the president of the League of Women Voters serves on the CRB. While membership in the league is common among women in the legal community, in this particular case it casts doubt on Shoob’s impartiality.
RECUSE YOURSELF, JUDGE SHOOB, BECAUSE I WILL CALL THE CITIZENS REVIEW BOARD FIRST THING IN THE MORNING. IF YOU DO NOT RECUSE YOURSELF, THIS WILL BE EXPOSED AND WE WILL PROTEST OUTSIDE THAT GEROGIA SUPERIOR COURT. "SUPERIOR" TO WHAT, I WONDER?
Superior to my mother, I suppose, who continues to have nightmares about the possible scenarios under which Larry Neal may have died at the hand of Memphis police, thanks to your ignoring The Cochran Firm office, just spitting distance from your office. Thanks to you and others, we still do not have records of how police killed Larry. Now you are selected to preside over records for Ms. Johnston's police murder, another Cochran Firm client.
How did you get to be our judge? Of all the judges on Georgia Superior Court, how did Neals v. Cochran Firm get assigned the only judge who had a prior history judging wrongful death cases against Memphis Police Department?
I have the picture of you and Memphis police officers hugging after you refused to admit certain key evidence by the prosecutors in a case wherein Memphis officers shot a citizen at a red light. The venue of that Tennessee case was transferred to Georgia to your court due to public outrage in Memphis. I doubt if there were ever more than those two cases filed in Georgia courts involving death by Memphis police - and you just happened to get them both. You and police are great friends, right? Especially when officers have to go to court after murders of black citizens.
The Rules of Court say that the Superior Court judges are selected for cases by lottery process. How did Shoob wind up presiding over Neals v. The Cochran Firm involving misconduct by the Memphis Police Department and Shelby County Jail? Now she is selected to preside over the Kathryn Johnston records dispute case, and both case have a common denominator, The Cochran Firm Fraud. These are too many coincidences. RECUSE YOURSELF, JUDGE SHOOB. With all of these cars and the US DOT truck following me in 2008 before I became a recluse for security, I would prefer not to have to come to Superior Court in the morning to protest what is planned for Ms. Johnston's case. But if needed, then I will, and I will not be alone. Secrets cannot stay secrets forever.
Atlanta Police, please do the right thing and give up the records. Officials should be fair about citizens' deaths by police, regardless of possible inducements, because wrongdoing cannot be kept quiet forever. If you try to set up a particular judge to impede justice and open disclosure regarding Ms. Johnston, don't count on The Cochran Firm to diffuse tensions again like their "representation" of her survivors did in November 2006. Over 100,000 people know about The Cochran Firm Fraud. Therefore, that law firm no longer has its previous power in the black community, and its influence will only dissipate further as each one tells one. Try justice - it works.
COVERING UP A MURDER COVER-UP IS MORE TROUBLE THAN YOU MIGHT THINK. ASK THOSE LAWYERS. IF YOU ARE A PART OF THE JOHNSTON MURDER COVER-UP, JUST RESIGN. IT IS ALL COMING OUT EVENTUALLY.
The story they are hiding and keeping out of the news is at this link:
After Kathryn Johnston's Murder, by Mary Neal
This writer has two or three questions the Citizens Review Board should put to Atlanta Police Department:
1) Since it has been established that there was NO tip that drugs were in Ms. Johnston's home, and the man the murderous officers hoped would tell that lie instead went to the press and FBI and exposed their plan.
EXACTLY WHY WERE THE POLICE AT MS. JOHNSTON'S HOME? WERE THEY REALLY THERE TO ROB HER? DID THEY SHOOT AND ROB HER?
2) The three officers who were tried and convicted for Ms. Johnston's murder were ordered to pay the family $8,000 in restitution for her funeral expenses. Since Ms. Johnston's survivors were represented in a civil action against the City of Atlanta by the duplicitous (Johnnie) Cochran Firm, did they or will they also get damages in their civil action? The civil suit regarding Ms. Johnston's murder was also filed in Georgia Superior Court.
This is the same court that had done The Cochran Firm the huge FAVOR of declaring the firm's Georgia office NONEXISTENT to dismiss Neals v. The Cochran Firm fraud lawsuit just six months before Ms. Johnston's death. Therefore, it might be hard for this law firm to return to Georgia Superior Court and flex its muscles for the bereaved relatives of any police murder victim. The law firm likely never intended to act in the bereaved family's behalf, anyway.
As victims of The Cochran Firm Fraud, the Neals tried to warn Ms. Johnston's family about the probable intent of The Cochran Firm to work with the court and police officials to minimize the damages survivors received regarding Ms. Johnston's murder by police. In our case, the lawyers prevented any damages being paid. The Neals arranged contract with The Cochran Firm on the same day that police notified the family about Larry Neal's death; therefore, the powers that be were able to keep Larry's death-by-police out of the news altogether, unlike Ms. Johnston's death. Release of records regarding Larry's demise is also a problem. The Cochran Firm had subpoenaed no records about Larry's death from the jail, of course. From reading about the huge controversy over records in Ms. Johnston's case, it seems a safe assumption that The Cochran Firm did not subpoena records regarding Ms. Johnston’s murder, either.
Hiding records of police murder is so important to authorities that regardless of sunshine laws and despite Larry's family asking authorities for records and filing two lawsuits against The Cochran Firm for fraud, the Neal family still has no records related to Larry's demise beyond a death certificate and partial autopsy report. All requests to a myriad of officials for accountability have been refused or ignored for six years.
When people of color contract with The Johnnie Cochran Firm and probably other specifically chosen law firms after loved ones are murdered by police officers or jail and prison guards, there is apparently the expectation that full accountability will never be required. When such a case goes to court, there are sometimes special judges in place.
Consider the Ohio judge who ordered Dr. Kohler, Summit County Chief Medial Examiner, to remove her findings of death by Taser from her medial reports for three citizens who were killed by police. Dr. Kohler felt that she should not be dictated by a judge with no medical credentials as to what could be on her medical examiner's reports, but his Order was upheld in April by Ohio Court of Appeals. Suppressing justice after wrongful deaths by police has support in the judiciary, probably engendered by monetary inducements like the Pennsylvania judges who were caught channeling children into private prisons for $2.6 million in kickbacks. See the Ohio court news story at this link: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Ohio-Court-of-Appeals-Affirms-pz-14826061.html
After Judge Shoob gave The Cochran Firm an order granting it nonexistence in Georgia to dodge the Neals' lawsuit, the Neals filed suit against the firm in USDC under the Diversity Rule. Judge Timothy Batten of USDC ruled that everything the law firm had done to prevent its clients' lawsuit against the Shelby County Jail was "immaterial." Protecting police officers, jails, and prisons regarding abuse of power goes even higher than city and state governments or judges. Otherwise, the practice would end.
This writer wishes the Atlanta Citizen Review Board luck regarding police records related to Ms. Johnston's death. So far, the Neals are still on our Justice Quest regarding the secret arrest and wrongful death of Larry Neal nearly six years later. All citizen review boards face an uphill battle and powerful foes in their quest to access records and evaluate abuse of power allegations against police, unless they join the opposition against justice. The federal government spent $36,248,000,000 on criminal justice in 2006, while local governments spent $109,205,351,000 (totaling over $145 billion in just one year). Hundreds of millions more are earned each year through prison work projects. Crime and punishment is therefore one of America’s most lucrative industries, with substantial resources to induce judges and citizen review board members to misuse their positions to defeat any judicious investigations or lawsuits that threaten the bottom line. One online friend who is a bank teller reported that a judge deposits $8,000 cash into her personal account each month like clockwork. Like the corrupt Pennsylvania judges, she likely has a quota that she is filling and may even earn bonuses for certain rulings. Only moral people should be in powerful positions in the justice arena, not those who have already given evidence of their corruption.
NOTE: Due to much censorship, Larry's murder and The Cochran Firm Fraud have never been exposed in mainstream media. I hope The Sunday Paper, which carried the news reports above, is not owned by Cox Enterprises, Inc. That media giant was allowed to IGNORE the Neal's federal subpoena issued in the USDC case against The Cochran Firm for breach of contract.
The Neals subpoenaed records from Cox Enterprises regarding The Cochran Firm's advertising of its Atlanta office by Cox Enterprises in various media, including the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Channel 2 - WSB Atlanta, and other media. Judge Timothy Batten, of USDC, denied the Neals' motion to compel Cox to release the records of advertising that reaches millions of Georgians for the Atlanta office of The Johnnie Cochran Firm, which represented in Georgia Superior Court that it was no such thing.
Judge Batten also allowed Shelby County Jail to ignore subpoenas for release of records on Larry. Yet, Georgia Superior Court sentenced two teenage black boys to 10 years imprisonment for killing a puppy, and authorities investigated, prosecuted, incarcerated, and bankrupted Michael Vick over his dogs. Dogs are deemed more worthwhile in America than black men. http://my.nowpublic.com/culture/dog-justice-mary-neal
I will attempt to contact Ms. Ramage about this matter. Reporters should always have an avenue for the public to reach them other than through their employer. ALL REPORTERS SHOULD JOIN FACEBOOK OR MYSPACE so that the public can send them information their employers may be censoring. Their editors reject any news the owners are censoring, but at least the mainstream reporters would have the information if they provide an avenue for independent contact. No holes are barred when it comes to containing information pertinent to the secret arrest and wrongful death of Larry Neal and The Cochran Firm Fraud in mainstream news. This is probably because of the connection Larry's death has with former attorney general Gonzales' tenure over the USDOJ. See more in articles written by this writer at http://NowPublic.com/duo
Recognizing how corrupt our "justice" system is, I advocate for condemned man, Troy Anthony Davis. His petitions for a new trial have repeatedly been rejected by Georgia "Superior" Court. Superior to what? Black citizens is my guess.
I sent a version of this article via email to the USDOJ. Like it or not, that is the highest authority we have in America for justice. The USDOJ should address this and other attempts to thwart justice for African Americans by withholding police records after African Americans are murdered by police officers, although the Neal family is still waiting.
There should be a review of other death-by-police cases with black or brown victims, particularly those handled by The Cochran Firm since Johnnie Cochran's death. Listen to the plan to give African Americans substandard service from one of the firm's own attorneys who sued them for race discrimination: www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12171473
This writer has been on a justice quest regarding the secret arrest and wrongful death of her handicapped brother since learning that the attorneys her family entrusted with the matter were actually working for the jail. Despite being followed, accosted at a neighborhood stores and denied police intervention when 911 was called, subjected to cyberterrorism and much censorship, she writes about this and other justice issues.
See some of the articles at http://NowPublic.com/duo
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Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour. ~ Leviticus 19:15