Court rules against militant formerly known as H. Rap Brown

Practice Focuses

A prosecutor violated the constitutional rights of the 1960s black militant formerly known as H. Rap Brown during his trial for the killing of a sheriff's deputy, but it's unlikely that substantially affected the verdict, a federal appeals court found.

The finding came Wednesday in the case of the man now known as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, who gained prominence more than 50 years ago as a Black Panthers leader who famously said, "Violence is as American as cherry pie." He later converted to Islam, changed his name and was living in Atlanta as an imam in March 2000 when authorities say he shot two sheriff's deputies, killing one.

Al-Amin alleges that a prosecutor at his trial violated his constitutional rights and the court failed to take adequate steps to fix that violation. A federal judge rejected his challenge and the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling.

In 2002, Al-Amin, 75, was convicted of murdering Fulton County sheriff's Deputy Ricky Kinchen and wounding Kinchen's partner, Deputy Aldranon English. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Al-Amin's lawyers argued a prosecutor violated his right not to testify by directly questioning him during closing arguments in a sort of mock cross-examination. They also said the trial judge should have let his lawyers question an FBI agent who was present at his arrest about another incident involving the agent.

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