Archive | October, 2007

Kennedy Cousin Loses Bid For New Trial

27 Oct


Almost 32 years to the day after the murder of Martha Moxley, a Superior Court judge has denied Michael Skakel’s appeal for a new trial.

In his ruling Thursday at Superior Court in Stamford, Judge Edward R. Karazin Jr. ruled that there was “no truly new or credible evidence” to upset a jury’s verdict five years ago that Skakel was guilty of 15 year-old Moxley’s murder.

Skakel, who was also 15 when the crime occurred, lived across the street from the Moxley house where Martha’s body was found beneath a tree on Halloween day, 1975. She had been killed about 10 p.m. the previous night, brutally beaten to death with a golf club.

Gitano “Tony” Bryant, cousin of Kobe Bryant and one of Skakel’s former classmates, claimed in 2003 that his two friends told him just days after the murder that they had assaulted Martha “caveman style.” He said he remained silent for 28 years for fear of being implicated in the murder himself.

Judge Karazin didn’t buy it, but his ruling is by no means the final chapter of the Michael Skakel case.


Skakel, now 47, is serving a 20-years-to-life sentence. Moxley’s murder remained unsolved for nearly a quarter-century until a grand jury investigation led to Skakel’s arrest in 2000, at age 39. His new lawyers, Hope Seeley and Hubert Santos, assert the crime is still unsolved.

“We maintain that Mr. Skakel was wrongly convicted and that, if a jury had heard all of the evidence, he would never have been convicted,” Seeley said Thursday. “We intend to pursue all legal avenues possible, including appealing this decision, filing a federal writ of habeas corpus raising constitutional issues, as well as a state habeas petition addressing the ineffective assistance of counsel.”

Karazin’s ruling helped Skakel in one way: It bolsters his claim that his trial lawyer, Michael “Mickey” Sherman, failed him miserably.

The 36-page ruling characterizes much of the evidence that Santos and Seeley presented during the April hearing on Skakel’s civil petition for a new trial as material that Sherman should have been able to obtain either before Skakel’s 2002 trial or during it. That evidence includes a sketch of an unfamiliar man seen walking in Belle Haven the night of the murder and detailed police profile reports of suspects Kenneth Littleton – a new tutor hired by the Skakel family – and Thomas Skakel, Michael’s older brother. It also includes the whereabouts of three Elan School classmates of Michael Skakel’s who might have been able to discredit a key prosecution witness.

“All three of these witnesses could have been found prior to trial by the same methods employed to find them after trial,” Karazin wrote. His ruling underscores that Sherman did not use “due diligence” in locating witnesses and demanding evidence.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. with Mickey Sherman

(PHOTO CAPTION: Douglas Kennedy (left), RFK Jr., and Mickey Sherman during Michael Skakel’s 2002 trial for the murder of Martha Moxley.) 

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has been the most outspoken member of the Kennedy family about this case, proclaiming his cousin’s innocence at every opportunity. In a 2003 article he wrote for the Atlantic (“A Miscarriage of Justice”), Kennedy called the Skakel trial a “media lynching,” and presented a convincing argument for Skakel’s innocence, reminding readers that the prosecution had no fingerprints, no DNA, and no witnesses.


RFK Jr. visited Skakel in prison, attended the trial, and has spent the years since gathering potential evidence to clear his cousin’s name. “Many people asked me why I would publicly defend him—a cause unlikely to enhance my own credibility.” Kennedy said in The Atlantic article. “I support him not out of misguided family loyalty but because I am certain he is innocent.”

At the televised retrial hearing back in April, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. testified that he wasn’t always close to his cousin by marriage, but he said he felt obligated to come forward with information given to him by Tony Bryant which implicates other people in the murder. 

Kennedy had put Skakel’s attorneys in touch with Bryant, the one-time classmate who implicated two friends in the crime.

“I knew that Michael was innocent. I knew he’d been wrongly convicted,” Kennedy said. “Although my relationship with him was a troubled one, I knew that an innocent man was in prison, and I knew facts that had not been part of the trial and they were not part of the public debate.”

Bobby’s mother Ethel Kennedy (Skakel’s aunt) sat in the front row of the courtroom.

The defense played a tape of a conversation between Bobby Kennedy Jr. and Bryant about the two men Bryant implicated, Adolph Hasbrouck and Burt Tinsley.

“They need to interview and focus on this guy Adolph because he said some very, very, very, very damaging statements that, I mean, just blew me away,” Bryant told Kennedy, according to a transcript of the conversation.

With several potential other suspects in the crime still walking free, Michael Skakel will probably spend the rest of his days behind bars for a murder many believe he did not commit.

After the judge’s ruling came down Thursday denying Skakel a new trial, one website devoted to convincing the public that Skakel was railroaded went dark in protest of the decision. The webmaster of posted the following statement: 

Due to a tragedy in the CT “justice” system, this site has been temporarily disabled in a programmed moment of silence.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Michael Skakel (whom we also believe is innocent), as well as the Kennedy, Skakel, and Moxley families. We refuse to lose hope that the REAL killer (s) will be found, tried and convicted, and that one day, there will truly be justice for Martha.

And justice for Michael, too.

Copyright 2007 by All Rights Reserved.


Kennedy Warns of Pollution Dangers From Poultry Farms

24 Oct

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.


The Waterkeeper Alliance, an international environmental group co-founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is organizing an “Eastern Shore Poultry Summit” Nov. 1 at the Wicomico Civic Center in Salisbury, MD, the Baltimore Sun reported today.

The point of the event is to raise awareness of water pollution that runs off large poultry farms, and try to find solutions, said William J. Gerlach, attorney for the eight-year-old advocacy organization.

Among the speakers at the day-long event will be Kennedy, a co-founder and chairman of the group; Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler; and Bill Satterfield, director of the Delmarva Poultry Institute, a farming trade organization.  “We’d like to start a dialogue among everybody – so we invited the Delmarva Poultry Institute, not just environmental activists,” said Gerlach.  ”Hopefully there will be good discusion and we will build from it.” 

Gerlach said he hopes to encourage Maryland  to issue factory-style water pollution control permits to large poultry farms, increase the enforcement of water pollution laws, and to allow public access to the nutrient management plans that farmers are supposed to follow.

The Sun reported on Oct. 14 that the poultry industry on Maryland’s Eastern Shore produces about a billion pounds of manure a year, and is a significant source of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. But Maryland has been slower than other states, including neighboring Pennsylvania, in requiring factory-style pollution control permits for large poultry businesses. The state is now considering these permits, along with inspections by the state’s environmental enforcement agency and fines of up to $32,500 for allowing manure into streams. (Yes, you read that correctly) But farmers have complained that chicken houses don’t pollute like factories, and that family farms shouldn’t be burdened with excessive regulation.

The Poultry Summit is open to the public, and runs from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Wicomico Civic Center. The cost is $25. The group held similar “Hog Summits” to address animal waste pollution in North Carolina, Iowa and Pennsylvania from 2002 to 2005. 

RFK Jr. Protested by Cape Windbags at MA Event

22 Oct


RFK Jr. in New Bedford, MA Oct. 18, 2007 

(PHOTO CAPTION: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks in New Bedford, MA on Oct. 18)

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was back in “Kennedy Country” Thursday to speak at a Bioneers by the Bay: Connecting for Change kick-off event in New Bedford, Massachusetts. But his old home week welcome was not always a warm one. 

Upon arrival at the Zeiterion Theatre, Kennedy was greeted by a group of pro-Cape Wind demonstrators, apparently looking to take the wind out of his sails.

Representatives from Clean Power Now, a group that supports the Nantucket Sound wind farm project, stood at the corner of Spring and Purchase streets holding signs decorated with wind turbines and the statement, “Yes.” As people walked into the theater, the protesters loudly urged them to ask Mr. Kennedy why he opposes the project.

Kennedy did not address Cape Wind at all during his speech.

Meanwhile, a flurry of critical letters and editorials in the local newspapers attempted to paint RFK Jr. as an environmental hypocrite, once again making the empty argument that he does not support the wind farm simply because it might obstruct his “pristine view from the Kennedy home at Hyannisport”.

It appears that Kennedy’s critics are either uninformed or deliberately distorting the facts. The truth of the matter is that Bobby Kennedy Jr. does not live in Hyannisport (he has resided in New York most of his life). His frantic work schedule ensures that he rarely finds time to visit the family compound at Cape Cod; therefore, it is not his view which will be affected by the giant wind turbines.

Here the NIMBY argument falls flat on its’ face. But why should the pro-Cape Wind lobby allow facts to get in the way of a good propaganda campaign? This story is breaking like the wind on such prime outlets as The Daily Show, allowing us all to witness the absurd irony of tree-hugging lefties joining hands with the Free Republic crowd to save the planet. Did you ever think you’d see the day?


Striking while the iron is hot, the Cape Windbags never miss an opportunity to poke fun at Uncle Teddy, using his opposition to Cape Wind as yet another excuse to dredge up the Senator’s past mistakes. This chronic flatulence of the fingers permeates most MSM editorials on the subject of Cape Wind, and smells every bit as foul as the aftermath of a Boston bean-eating contest.

So after nearly six years of this little game of slap-and-tickle, the Cape Wind debate continues to rage on and on, ad nauseum. So much disinformation has been circulated by the Cape Windbags on this issue that most average Americans just can’t understand why RFK Jr., one of the nation’s top environmentalists, is not on board.

So where does RFK Jr. stand on the Cape Wind boondoggle, exactly?

Simply put, Bobby Kennedy Jr. supports wind power as one of many solutions to our nation’s energy crisis. But he doesn’t think we should just plunk down a huge wind farm of monster turbines in the middle of Nantucket Sound without regard for the long-term consequences. He opposes the Cape Wind project on environmental grounds, and has voiced important concerns about the potential impact the wind farm will have on fish and wildlife in the affected area. He does support bringing wind power to Cape Cod, and agrees with Senator Ted Kennedy’s proposal to instead construct a wind farm off nearby Otis Air Force Base.

Further, since RFK Jr. has always strongly opposed privatizing the commons, it should come as no surprise that he will not support the notion of placing one of the nation’s most historic public waterways in the hands of private developers for profit.

Mr. Kennedy has clearly defined and defended his reasons for opposing Cape Wind publicly on numerous occasions. He explained why he feels the project will ultimately do more harm than good in his New York Times Op-Ed piece, An Ill Wind Off Cape Cod. We encourage everyone to read it.


In what was about the only positive editorial regarding Mr. Kennedy’s visit to Massachusetts this week, South Coast Today’s Jack Spillane had this to say after attending RFK Jr.’s speech:

“Then, out of the son of Robert Kennedy’s mouth, came the voice of moral authority that has been missing from American political debate since the 1960s civil rights movement…

…To save the environment, Mr. Kennedy offered a blatantly political call to action that didn’t seem in any way the dirty politics of the last American half-century.

Support campaign finance reform. Keep corporations away from government. And support reform of the regulations governing media, he said.

“Get involved in this political process and get rid of these rotten politicians,” he finished.

When was the last time you ever heard an American leader talk like that?

Too bad this guy isn’t the president instead of the one we’ve got.”

Our thoughts exactly, Jack.

And Mr. Spillane, if you’re as sick and tired of business as usual as we are, perhaps you’d like to add your signature to the “Kennedy for President” petition. 

Copyright 2007 by All Rights Reserved.

Kennedy Visits Clinton Country

21 Oct


In light of his recent endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy and rumors that he may be a contender for her Senate seat if vacated, the timing of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s visit to the heart of “Clinton Country” in Arkansas this week doesn’t seem entirely accidental.

RFK Jr. appeared at tonight’s Slate 60 philanthropy conference at the Clinton School of Public Service, co-sponsored by Slate Magazine, the William J. Clinton Foundation and the Clinton School. (Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled at the conference for Monday)

Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of Kennedy’s attendance at this exclusive, invitation-only event was the other guest speaker on the bill this evening: none other than New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.

In the event that Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, Gov. Spitzer would appoint her Senate successor in 2009. And right now, all eyes are on Bobby Kennedy Jr. to be the next junior Senator from New York. Many believe he wishes to reclaim the U.S. Senate seat once held by his father, and that he could easily win the contest in the general election.

This was Kennedy’s second visit to central Arkansas in a week: in addition to tonight’s conference, he also spoke at Henderson State University on Oct. 17th.

RFK Jr.’s attendance of the Slate 60 philanthropy conference this evening put the wraps on a long week of public appearances, court proceedings, and nonstop travel. On Wednesday, Kennedy presented his closing argument in the Spelter Smelter court case against DuPont, which has kept him busy down in West Virginia for the past month. Kennedy won the case; a jury awarded nearly $200 million in punitive damages to local residents who were poisoned by DuPont’s pollution. (DuPont says they plan to appeal the verdict.)

The next day, he was back in “Kennedy Country” to speak at a Bioneers by the Bay: Connecting for Change kick-off event in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

(See related story: “RFK Jr. Harassed by Cape Windbags at MA Event”.)

Copyright 2007 by All Rights Reserved.


Another Air America Affiliate Bites The Dust

18 Oct

 Air America Logo

KOKE-AM to Air America Radio: “Adios, Amigo!”

Here in the progressive, hip, liberal blue-city-in-a-red-state mecca of Austin, TX, another Air America affiliate has apparently bought the farm. KOKE-AM 1600 is no longer.

Austinites will now have to tune to XM Satellite radio channel 167 to get their weekly dose of “Ring of Fire,” the Air America show hosted by Bobby Kennedy Jr., Mike Papantonio and John Morgan.

As of midnight October 17th, KOKE-AM was sold by Border Media Partners to Encino Broadcasting, LLP, for $5.5 million, along with two other stations. Encino’s owner, Jose J. Garcia (who owned KOKE years ago before it was sold to BMP) decided to change the format from progressive talk to Mexican Norteno music.

Why KOKE switched to the Mexican music format is somewhat puzzling considering that Austin already has about 5 or 6 Spanish language stations. Three stations in town offer conservative talk programming.

So Austin just lost it’s ONLY liberal news/talk station. No more Ed Schultz, Randi Rhodes, Rachel Maddow, or “Ring of Fire”…and once again, the voice of the left has been silenced.

The sale of KOKE continues what appears to be an unfortunate trend for Air America. The recent loss of affiliate stations in liberal strongholds such as Boston, Austin, and San Diego (whose KLSD will switch formats to sports on Nov. 1st, despite online petitions and local demonstrations imploring the station’s owners to keep AAR on the air) challenges the network to find a way to reach listeners through outlets other than the commercial airwaves.

Although media insiders knew this sale was coming, the average listener in Austin had no advance warning at all. Perhaps because the station owner’s didn’t want another San Diego-style protest on their hands. They just did it quietly, in the middle of the night. No  announcement until after the deal was done.

I noticed late last night that KOKE had dead air for several hours. Just thought it was a transmitter problem (these are not unusual at KOKE), until I turned on the station at 5am when I woke up, only to hear Mexican music instead of the “Young Turks.”

First reaction was “huh”? Then, it became clear this was a permanent format change. Why?

Well, let’s examine the summer `07 Arbitron ratings for this market:






Yikes. Can’t even pull 1% in Austin, TX? Amazing but true. Don’t ask me why. This is a city that is overwhelmingly Democratic, yet the right-wing talk radio stations in town such as KLBJ-AM consistently get much better ratings.

Another factor in KOKE’s demise is that the station lacked local programming. No local live call-in shows. No news staff. No involvement in the local community. The entirety of their programming was Air America, along with a few football games and weekend shows beamed in from the Dallas market.

Austinites don’t give a damn what’s going on in Dallas, but they DO care passionately about local issues. And they had no outlet for interaction on the Austin airwaves, especially considering that KLBJ-AM is rather infamous for screening out callers who disagree with their conservative viewpoint.

KLBJ, to their credit, knows how to do news/talk successfully. They have a newsroom staff of 7-10 people, several local call-in shows, advertising, billboards, promotions, and stay completely engaged in the community. It doesn’t hurt that they are a heritage station with those legendary call letters.

Always thought it ironic that our right-wing news talk station in town was KLBJ, owned for 40 years by the family of one of our nation’s more liberal Democratic presidents.

Somehow, I don’t think it’s quite what Lyndon and Lady Bird had in mind.

Copyright 2007 by All Rights Reserved.

RFK Jr. Talks About Gore; Endorses Hillary, on ABC

14 Oct

 Robert F. Kennedy Jr. appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America Saturday to talk about this week’s award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore and the IPCC. The discussion began with some observations on the draft Gore movement; RFK Jr. urged people to respect Gore’s choice not to run and said that we will have to “look for leadership someplace else.”

But perhaps the most interesting part of the interview was his reply to the question of who he was endorsing for President in 2008. 

Here’s a transcript of the October 13 Good Morning America interview with Bill Weir:

Weir: “And joining us live now from Minneapolis is another man who has made protecting the environment a lifelong cause, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President of the Waterkeeper Alliance. Good morning.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: “Morning.”

Weir: “Your father ran for president, convinced that was the best way to tackle big problems, but forty years later it seems Al Gore is content to act as a citizen activist. Do you agree with that decision? Do you think he would do more good to the grand cause as a candidate?”

Kennedy: “Well, I think that’s a personal decision for him. He said he doesn’t want to run so — you know, he did win once before. [Weir laughs] But I think — at this point, he’s saying that he’s not going to run. So I think we have to look for leadership someplace else.”

Weir: “Well, let me follow that up then-”

Kennedy: “That kind of leadership.”

Weir: “Yeah. Well, if he’s not in, who do you like as the most qualified candidate on environmental issues?”

Kennedy: “You know, I think all of the Democratic candidates have said the right thing about global warming. We’ve yet to see concrete plans from anybody. John McCain on the Republican side has some genuine bona fides — although I think he’s being pulled now by the gravities of the Republican primary voters to reverse some of those — that initial good work that he’s done on the issue. All the Democrats have been good on this issue. Hillary Clinton. Johnny Edwards. Obama. Bill Richardson. Chris Dodd. They’ve all been wonderful on this issue.”

Weir: “But no endorsement this morning?”

Kennedy: “I think — I’m going to be supporting Hillary Clinton in the race. I think she has the strongest record on the environment of any of the candidates and-”

Weir: “Well, let me ask you just about the fight at large. The last poll we did at ABC was in the spring, and 56% of the people still says, said, there’s a debate among scientists as to whether or not climate change is manmade. Where’s the tipping point? And, does the message have to change in any way to get more people on board before any grand action can be-”

Kennedy: “Well, it’s not the message, it’s really the media that I think is at fault here. If — you know, the National Academy of Sciences did a study an inventory, three years ago, of all of the scientific documents that had — the peer reviewed, refereed scientific documents that had been published in the previous decade, over 10,000 documents, 10,000 scientific studies. All of them agreed on the basics: that global warming exists; that human beings are causing it; that it’s upon us now; and that its impacts are going to be catastrophic. In the scientific community, there was literally zero dissent. But at the same time, in the United States press, over 60% of the newspaper stories and, particularly, the television stories published, expressed some doubt about this issue. Why is that? The reason is because of a massive propaganda campaign by the Exxon corporation and by others — but largely funded by Exxon — that has been very, very successful at persuading the media not to cover this issue seriously and reporters simply don’t go read the science. They say, ‘Oh, well, there’s somebody out there, you know, Exxon is saying-”

Weir: “Looking for the other side.”

Kennedy: “-Exxon’s lackeys are saying this. And it’s irresponsible of the media ultimately. People think — journalists now think if they achieve balance they’ve done their job. But that’s not the job of journalism. A true journalist, their job is to go out, to discern the truth, and then to convey the truth to the American people. And that has not happened in this case. They’ve simply said, well, we’ve done our job if we’ve done balance, and it’s simply — they’ve given a really, really, really wrong impression to the American public and they’ve let down American democracy.”

Weir: “Robert Kennedy, we appreciate your thoughts this morning. Thanks for being with us.”

Copyright 2007, ABC News.

RFK Jr. Cancels Keynote Speech; Tied Up In Court

11 Oct

When an international conference on sea-dumped munitions starts this week in Halifax, the acclaimed keynote speaker that was to address the crowd will not be present, says the conference organizer.

According to the Nova Scotia Business Journal, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was to speak today at the First International Conference of Chemical and Conventional Munitions Dumped at Sea, running through Thursday at the World Trade and Convention Centre.

Last Friday afternoon, conference organizers were told that the son of the late senator has to be in court Wednesday, the day he was to address the conference and that he couldn’t get out of that commitment.