At the request of Angela Davis, a panel of 12 black legal scholars-including Derrick Bell, a Harvard Law School professor-has been organized to provide research and advice for her defense.
Haywood Burns '62, director of the National Conference of Black Lawyers, announced the formation of the panel Monday in New York.
Bell, also a member of the Conference's executive board, said, "We'll be getting into the libraries to do research in areas which are important to the case. We'll do back-up, research, and brief writing. In this area, we'll be calling on our friends for help.
"We're doing this because we feel nothing should be left undone. It's a case likely to go on for a long time and there are serious and complicated issues involved in it. The point is to show that a not unimportant sector of black lawyers are concerned about the case, committed to giving Miss Davis all the help she needs, and are aware of the long range implications of the case," Bell added.
Bell said that Davis had requested the formation of the panel. According to Bell, Davis was trying to help show that black professionals were playing a meaningful role in helping black militants in trouble.
Davis is being held without bail in California for allegedly buying the guns used in the killing of Judge Harold J. Haley and three other persons last August 7. The deaths occurred in a gun battle following the disruption of a trial in the Marin County courthouse.
Burns said yesterday that his organization had been involved with Davis ever since her arrest last November in New York City. He explained that Davis had enlisted a lawyer from hisgroup in an attempt to stop her extradition to California.
"We also filed an affirmative suit against New York City when Angela was put in solitary, and we won. She then decided she-also wanted us to defend her in California," Burns explained. Davis chose Howard Moore of Atlanta as her chief defense counsel. The remainder of the staff has yet to be picked, according to Burns.
Burns described the panel of lawyers as a "back-up brain trust" which would assist Davis's defense. He said that no special criteria had been employed in the selection of panel members.
Burns agreed with Bell that the exist-principal belief that women are an equal 'respectable' members of the black community are no longer afraid to stand up with the people who are standing up for them."