The FBI had asked to break the lawsuit up into pieces and have the court consider claims of immunity based on each individual piece rather than on the totality of the evidence. This tactic was intended to limit the evidence to be considered and to drag out the proceedings with multiple motions, each of which we would have to fight at great expense in both time and resources. Fortunately, at the hearing Judge Wilken denied the request and ordered the FBI to present one comprehensive immunity motion.
When the FBI still tried to delay matters, our attorneys filed their own motion, called a "preemptive strike" by the court, asking that Judge Wilken rule once and for all that the FBI and Oakland Police (OPD) do not have immunity from prosecution for their handling of the bombing investigation. The final brief and documentation accompanying the motion is a synthesis of evidence we've uncovered in the discovery process, including the thousands of pages of police and FBI documents and testimony relating to the sham investigation and the smear campaign against the Earth First!ers following the bombing. This evidence shows without a doubt that the FBI and OPD knowingly and deliberately lied when they arrested the activists on charges of transporting explosives; that they falsified evidence in order to obtain search warrants; and that they engaged in a COINTELPRO-style conspiracy with the intent to "neutralize" Judi, Darryl, and Earth First!
The next hearing is set for 10:30 a.m. on August 1,1997, at the Federal Courthouse in Oakland. If the judge rules in our favor as we expect, the case will move along toward trial, hopefully as early as next year.
By this time, Judi was critically ill. Yet FBI and Oakland defense lawyers disrupted and obstructed the proceedings from start to finish, and badgered and bullied her remorselessly. FBI lawyer Joseph Sher even opened the proceedings by accusing Judi of faking cancer as some kind of media ploy to gain sympathy for her lawsuit. Shaken and extremely weary, Judi still managed to establish a clear record of the climate of violence on the North Coast leading up to the bombing, and of the bombing and its aftermath. Significantly, although they maintain to this day that Judi and Darryl are still the only suspects in the bombing, neither defense counsel asked her a single question in their only opportunity to cross-examine her.
The FBI wouldn't agree to the deposition without a gag order, and it's easy to see why. The behavior of the FBI's lawyer was so appalling that anyone seeing the videotape would see how the FBI continued to terrorize Judi, even up until her death.
Special Agent David R. Williams, the key bomb expert in our case, is one of three agents transferred out of the crime lab due to unscientific lab practices, manipulation of evidence and failure to write reports — exactly what he did in our case. Oakland Police claim it was Williams who told them that nails in the bomb matched nails found in Bari's house "in a batch of 200 to 1000 nails." In fact the evidence shows that no guilty match of nails was possible, and that investigators were well aware of that fact. This blatant falsehood was used to justify a second search of Bari's house a month after the bombing, and to fuel another round of lurid headlines falsely connecting the activists to the bomb, when in fact the FBI's own records show clearly that they knew there was no evidence whatsoever to connect them.
While the focus on the FBI crime lab brings to public attention some of the FBI's nefarious dealings, it is only an aside to the broader issue of the FBI's repressive role as America's secret political police. It is that role that the Earth First! case exposes.
Organized by Equal Justice USA-West, Fireworx and KPFA, the event raised more than $20,000 for Redwood Summer Justice Project and for Judi's two daughters, and was a fitting tribute to a true warrior whose courage and nonviolence in the face of outrageous violence and terrorism inspired so many.
In March we put up a website for information on Judi Bari and the FBI lawsuit. The site is growing , but is already filled with photos, articles and radio interviews, and soon will include bombing case court documents (including the recent brief). Keep checking it for updates!