On Monday, Oct. 21, Cuban Five attorney Bill Norris, representing Ramón Labañino, filed a new legal document, a supplementary motion adding to the extensive record in support of the Habeas Corpus appeal for Labañino. Its arguments apply to the three remaining Cuban Five members still appealing.
One Cuban Five member – Fernando González – chose to abandon his Habeas Corpus appeal, in order not to delay his Feb. 2014 release from prison. If he were to continue his legal appeals, his return home to Cuba could be delayed for months or years.
The new motion highlights the trial judge’s own concern during the Five’s trial, that, in her own words, she could not protect the jury from adverse publicity. On February 16, 2001, Judge Joan Lenard issued an Opinion and Memorandum of Law in response to Gerardo Hernández’s motion seeking enforcement of the gag order on trial witnesses and the media.
The new Supplementary Motion quotes Judge Joan Lenard, who stated during trial, on February 16, 2001: “…the Court finds, however, that not even the most emphatic instruction or the most searching voir dire question can shield the jurors from banner headlines or ex parte statements and conduct by witnesses or counsel that would undoubtedly receive extensive coverage. Since the trial began, this case has been the daily bread for the local press and media.”
Neither the judge nor the defense during trial knew that many of those “banner headlines” were written by journalists secretly paid as U.S. government employees.
Norris’s motion reminding all trial parties of the judge’s own Legal Opinions and Court Orders strongly contradicts the U.S. prosecutors’ contention that the judge’s instructions to the unsequestered jury – not to read or watch the news when they went home each night for seven months – were sufficient to protect the jury from the media.
As the legal evidence builds, the resounding demand for the immediate freedom of the Cuban Five must be accompanied by constant mobilization, forums, actions in the streets, lobbying, and building support every day until victory is won.