Saturday, December 29, 2007

Jena 6 Plea Bargain Deal Not A Win-Win...Tha Artivist Reports...

One of the most publicized civil rights cases in recent memory has garnered more scrutiny…On Dec. 3, 2007 the defense team for Mychal Bell, the first of the Jena 6 to face jail time and trial, avoided a possible 2nd media circus filled trial by taking a plea bargain…Although Mychal will be free in only a matter of months many questioned the decision made by his legal defense team as well as the motive…Opinions varied far and wide from those connected to the case to those who were made aware of the saga through the media and the wonders of modern technology…

Mychal Bell’s father Marcus Jones and Mychal’s lead Attorney Lewis Scott are the two most distinctive voices involved in this issue…Marcus Jones felt that his son was mislead by Attorney Scott and his legal defense team while Attorney Scott felt that the plea bargain he helped to engineer served the best interest and individual needs of his client…

Both of these men are passionate about what they believe in…Below both men are given space to tell the story of the plea bargain in their own words from their individual perspectives…

The jury is now the in the court of public opinion…Regardless of how one may feel there’s no denying that the Jena 6 saga is one of the most prominent civil rights sagas of the early 21st Century…The Jena 6 legacy and the interpretations of that legacy will have long term effects…The final verdict has yet to be given…

Jena 6 Attorney Louis Scott Makes His Case

Louis Scott and associate Carol Powell-Lexing. (Courtesy photo)

Plea Bargain For Mychal Bell Was The Right Decision For His Client

Attorney Scott felt very confident that the decision his team made on behalf of his client was the right one…”The charges we entered the plea on, Mychal had been convicted of those charges in adult court…The part related to the aggravated nature was dismissed, the conspiracy was dismissed and the plea was less than what he was charged with…We could have been battling this case for a couple of years but in the meantime he wasn’t getting any education and we didn’t want him to fall by the wayside…We wanted to take time and look at his well being specifically…”

According to Attorney Scott going to trial would not have stopped the lawsuit filed by Justin Barker and his family…”The plea bargain and the filing of the lawsuit really didn’t have anything to do with each other…It really would have been filed regardless because it was prepared for months…I had already spoke with the attorneys for the Barkers and I knew that was coming down the pipe anyway…”

Attorney Scott did not feel that the plea bargain was a cop out or let the town of Jena off the hook…”For people who are interested in civil rights they should realize that there are two separate issues…If we would have gone to trial and if he was convicted of the things that he entered the plea to, they would have considered that a cop out…For people who want to straighten out the system it takes a lot more…”

“Dealing with racism in Jena or anywhere else requires more than us just preceding to trial…Going to trial was not going to deal with the fact that the other young white men who have taken part in the various activities were not prosecuted…Going to trial was not going to make the school system protect the rights of the African American students who go to school there…Going to trial was not going to deal with all the problems… Those problems if people are really serious about it are going to have to be dealt with over a period of time...”

Attorney Scott also noted the tension that existed among Mychal Bell’s family over the plea bargain…”In reality I would have fought the case as long as my client would have wanted to fight it…However, in the situation we were in we talked to Mychal himself, Melissa (Mychal’s mom) and Marcus (father)…Melissa was very much in favor to the plea bargain, Mychal was in favor to entering the plea agreement but Marcus disagreed to it…”

“My role as representative of Mychal Bell was to represent Mychal Bell and to do things that was going to be in his best interest so he can have some certainty in his life and plan his life…He felt it to be in his best interest to continue his education and put this behind him…I sympathize with his father and if Mychal would have decided to continue to fight just as his father wanted to do then that’s what we would have been doing”…

Quite frankly Attorney Scott admitted that in terms of a civil rights case taking a plea was not the best option…“From a civil rights perspective it may have been better to probably fight the case throughout…However, the decision of a lawyer has to be based upon the needs of his client…For certain reasons I hated to enter into the plea agreement because we would have had a better chance of exposing all of the problems and difficulties especially with the judge and judicial system in the area”…

Attorney Scott alluded to Mychal Bell’s football background as a running back to convince his client he made the right decision…”You still have five other people, like I told Mychal you don’t have to be ashamed of the decision you make, you ran the ball, you advanced the ball a certain distance now somebody is going to have to run the ball for awhile…You been the one who have been taking a pounding and been incarcerated…You done your part…Keep your head up and go head finish your education…”

Attorney Scott said that the lawyer’s main concern should be the individual needs of his clients and not to offer his client up as ‘a sacrificial lamb for the cause’…”If you look back over history of the people that were involved in the high profile cases the individuals didn’t always turn out okay…When you had marquee defendants like the Scottsboro 9 or Wilmington 10, just because they fought the battles for a long time doesn’t mean that the individuals turned out okay…If you look at the Little Rock 9, alot of them turned out okay because they had the support of people on a personal basis and they weren’t considered as sacrifices…They were considered as human beings who had needs themselves and they were able to progress and achieve in life…”

“A lot of people never looked at Mychal’s individual needs because they wanted a sacrifice...They didn’t consider him as a young person who is 17 years old who still needs an education, parental nurturing, somebody who can explain to him the ins and outs, somebody who can counsel him, those are needs he still has…”

Attorney Scott offered the following words for those who still wanted to continue the fight against injustice and for the rest of the Jena 6:

“There’s still five young men…There’s still injustice in Jena and those who want to deal with injustice should not let this (plea bargain) stop them…Injustice can not be dealt with through one march or going to one city on one day, it has to be dealt with day in and day out…It has to be dealt with in the courtrooms as well as in the chambers of legislature, on our jobs and in our schools…It’s something people have to organize for rather than thinking it is something that can be dealt with on the spur of the moment…”

Marcus Jones Offers His Rebuttal

Marcus Jones

Marcus Jones Questions The Motive And Timing Of Plea Bargain

Marcus Jones the father of Mychal Bell to say the least is not satisfied with the plea bargain deal at all…”When I first heard about the plea bargain quite naturally I wasn’t for it…I told my son this…The whole puzzling thing is why my son’s lawyer would accept a plea bargain from the D.A….”

Marcus Jones thought the plea was in bad taste because he felt the momentum of public opinion shifting heavily in the favor of Mychal Bell and other Jena 6 defendants…”With all the resources that has been galvanized around my son, the resources that my son had with people wanting to help from Harvard Law School; Howard University; Southern University and law students that other universities had; the National Black Caucus taking a stand; Rev. Sharpton; Michael Baisden, all these people bringing all this to the forefront, bringing this light…”

So the question remains as Marcus Jones said…

“Why would they as Black men and a Black woman (legal defense team) sell my son out like that?”

Marcus Jones first and foremost wanted his son to have a fair trial after what he felt the first trial represented which was a mockery of the judicial system, but business as usual in Jena…”If he was a good lawyer he would have said we are not taking any plea deals, we are going to take my client to trial and we are going to have our day in court…I thought he took the case to fight for my son…I never said my son didn’t participate in the fight…My whole issue from day one was that it was an unequal justice here where whites got away with committing crimes and the D.A. were forcing the laws on Blacks for lesser or similar crimes…”

Marcus also had a problem with the way they were “maliciously prosecuting and maliciously incarcerating” his son from day one…Marcus cries of abuse of his son Mychal included “locking him up as a juvenile with adults, trying him as an adult and then dropping those charges 10 months later and sending him to juvenile…”

Marcus fears and beliefs were for better or worse validated when the 3rd Circuit Court came back with their ruling…”Then 3rd circuit court came back 10 months later and overturned it saying that the D.A. and the judge misused the law…It should have been in juvenile court from day one…That was a violation of what the judge and D.A. had done in the law...It seems like to me that the DOJ (U.S. Department of Justice) should have came in and removed them by locking them up or suspending them...”

Marcus was nevertheless elated and thought that Attorney Scott and his team will act immediately upon the news with immediate and positive results…Or so he thought…

“My son’s lawyer got the word from the 3rd Circuit Court that they were wrong for incarcerating my son, holding him as an adult when he should have been in juvenile custody, they violated his civil rights…Locked him up in a facility where he could not continue his education…It’s been so many violations and civil suits that should have been filed by my son’s lawyer but he never did…But at the time I had such confidence in my son’s lawyer that I thought he was really trying to defend my son in the right way and to the end…”

Marcus feels the motive was money for Attorney Scott’s seemingly betrayal of his client…”If somebody paid me for running a race and you paid me for running the race before I even run the race, whoever gave me the money to run the race you suddenly get burned because you should have paid me after I got through running the race and that’s how I view what my son’s lawyer has done here…The confidence that I had in my son’s lawyer, I really don’t understand why he done this…”

“When my son went to court on Nov. 6 for two motion hearings, for the double jeopardy thing and for no police report being done we knew that Judge Maffrey in Jena wasn’t going to rule in our favor anyway”…The reason for the hearings was to able to advance their cause to the 3rd Circuit Court…”He (Scott) said when you get out and people ask and interview you or anything push the issue they are trying to try your son twice for the same thing…”

Marcus was surprised to learn on November 29 that the legal team never filed in the 3rd Circuit Court…Frustrated and confused Marcus asked them why didn’t they file and Attorney Scott said that Peggy one of the other lawyers on the defense team wasn’t finished writing the writ…Marcus upon hearing this stated “wait a minute that’s been a whole month, there’s something wrong with this picture…”

According to Marcus when his son asked Attorney Scott for the reason for not filing in 3rd Circuit Court, Scott told him because the plea bargain deal became available…Marcus felt that Attorney Scott told his son a lie because his intent was to do the plea bargain all along…

Marcus believes that there was an arrangement between the Barker Family and his son’s lead lawyer Louis Scott in order to help the Barker’s lawsuit and that his son was going to be the sacrificial lamb…”Somebody had to be the fall guy for this…In order for the Barker Family to make this lawsuit they filed against us good it had to be by Dec. 4…They needed somebody to take the plea in order for the lawsuit to be good…So the timing of the plea is very suspect…”

“I try to tell his mother and Mychal don’t do it, but they were making these promises to my son by being out before Christmas and his birthday and my son still sitting in jail…Something is wrong with this picture…”

Marcus believes that the plea bargain also let down the true supporters of his son and of the rest of the Jena 6…”All that’s been done to help our people come together around my son’s wrongful incarceration...People went out on the limb to send and raise money to help defend my son…They didn’t send that money for no plea bargain...”

The terms of the plea bargain according to Marcus Jones are suspect as well…Terms of the plea included not being able to go back and appeal the plea; Marcus will continue to pay child support for Mychal until he is 18 (what does this have to do with the case?); the parents have to pay a portion of Mychal’s medical bill; any motion that they, being Mychal and his parents, filed against the judge and D.A. will have to be withdrawn and the parents will have to pay the court costs…”What lawyer in their right mind would agree for their client to take a plea bargain from a D.A. under those circumstances…That’s bad law practice…”

Special Jena 6 Post-Plea Bargain Show On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio
To listen to the entire Attorney Louis Scott and Marcus Jones interviews as well as others on this case please visit the following link on-line:

(Ron Herd II also known as R2C2H2 Tha Artivist hosts the internet radio show “Tha Artivist Presents...W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio” at . His Website is He is also the author of James Reese Europe: Jazz Lieutenant

More Jena 6 On W.E. A.L.L. B.E.:



Anonymous said...

That whole last paragraph sounds CRAZY to me. They want to make absolutely sure that the judge, lawyers, and Barker are never punished for their crimes. Before I read that last paragraph, I was going to comment and say "I want them to do whatever it is they can do to get Mychal out of the juvi center (although I heard he was in a foster home) and back in school," but that last part is WAY too convenient. I'm with Mychal Bell's father on this one.

Anonymous said...

I hope my comment was received. If not, what I said was that I agree with Mychal Bell's father.

Anonymous said...

Man, I don't think my last comment was received. What I said was that I was originally going to say that the parents should do whatever it is that could get Mychall out of juvi (although I heard he was in a foster home) and back in school, but that last paragraph is SO suspect. I'm with Bell's father on this one now. Some of this stuff has zero to do with Bell's case or that fight, and it looks like a way for the judge, lawyer, and Justin Barker to get away with their crimes.