11 March 2016

Let Rachel Wolkenstein Defend Her Client!

(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)

The state of Pennsylvania is attempting to revoke the right of attorney Rachel Wolkenstein to represent her client Corey Walker. This is a clear act of political retribution for her work in defense of Mumia Abu-Jamal, America’s foremost political prisoner. As an out-of-state lawyer, Wolkenstein was admitted to practice in Pennsylvania pro hac vice (for this case only) in September 2014 in order to represent Walker, who is fighting to overturn his murder conviction. In a 6 November 2014 motion that raised several legalistic pretexts, the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office explicitly cited Wolkenstein’s political views as a reason to revoke her admission to practice and to prevent her from representing her client.

The attorney general finds “intolerable” Wolkenstein’s “beliefs that...the judicial system is an organ of repression and racism controlled by, and subservient to, elite capitalists.” That the racist judge Albert Sabo had her dragged from court in handcuffs and jailed while she was representing Mumia Abu-Jamal in August 1995 is presented as “evidence” of Wolkenstein’s “disdain and disrespect” for the courts! Her former associations with the Spartacist League and the International Communist League are also raised. This is an attack on the right to counsel and on all leftist lawyers!

For decades, Wolkenstein was staff counsel for the Partisan Defense Committee, a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defense organization which champions cases and causes in the interests of the whole of the working people. Wolkenstein served as co-counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal from 1995-99 when he was on death row. She pursued an investigation that unearthed much new evidence of his innocence and more details of the state frame-up against Mumia, an award-winning journalist, former Black Panther and supporter of the MOVE organization.

The PDC sent the following February 8 protest letter to Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane on the eve of an evidentiary hearing on the motion.

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The Partisan Defense Committee strongly protests your attempt to deny Corey Walker his Sixth Amendment right to the attorney of his choice. Mr. Walker has made absolutely clear his desire that attorney Rachel Wolkenstein represent him in his challenge to his conviction.

Your motion to revoke attorney Wolkenstein’s pro hac vice status as the attorney for Corey Walker is pure McCarthyism. The motion vilifies this attorney for her political views and zealous advocacy on behalf of her clients. The attempt to remove attorney Wolkenstein because of her efforts to uncover the injustices suffered by renowned prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and others she has represented is not only unconstitutional but outrageous.

We demand that Corey Walker be represented by the attorney of his choice.

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1085, 11 March 2016)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.