SUNDIATA ACOLI DOES NOT WANT US TO FORGET ZOLO AGONA AZANIA!!
VISIT ZOLO'S SITE AND PLEASE OFFER YOUR SUPPORT!! (www.zoloazania.org)
IN THE INDIANA SUPREME COURT
Supreme Court Case No. 02S03-0508-PD-364
STATE of Indiana, Appellant,
Zolo A. AZANIA, Appellee
ORDER GRANTING LEAVE TO APPEAR AS AMICI CURIAE
Proposed Amici Curiae, the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, Center for Justice for Capital Cases, Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Lawyers' Guild, Center for Constitutional Rights, National Legal Aid and Defender Association, Criminal Justice Institute, National Conference of Black Lawyers, and Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, file a "Motion to Appear As Amici Curiae." Proposed Amici Curiae are substantively aligned with Appellee, who tendered an Appellee's Brief on February 6, 2006. Proposed Amici timely filed their Motion and simultaneously tendered a brief.
Being duly advised, the Court now GRANTS the Motion and permits the above listed entities to appear as Amici Curiae. The Clerk is directed to show the tendered brief of Amici Curiae as being filed as of the date of tender.
The Clerk is directed to send copies of this order to all counsel of record and to counsel for Amici Curiae.
Done at Indianapolis, Indiana, this 14th day of February, 2006.
Randall T. Shepard
Chief Justice of Indiana
A specially appointed judge ruled on May 1, 2005 that the State of Indiana could not seek a third death penalty against Zolo Agona Azania, who previously had two death sentences overturned on appeal, because of "fundamental principles of fairness, due process, and speedy justice". Despite no longer being under a death penalty, Zolo Azania is still on death row while Indiana prosecutors appeal the judges' order. If the judge's order barring the death penalty is upheld, Zolo could be released from prison in five years.
Zolo, who is Black, was convicted by an all white jury in February, 1982 for the 1981 murder of a white Gary, Indiana police officer in the course of a bank robbery. Zolo did not receive a fair trial, and has always maintained his noninvolvement in the crime. On May 25, 1982, he became the first person in Allen County to be sentenced to death since 1959.
In 1993 the Indiana Supreme Court vacated Zolo's death sentence - while failing to overturn his conviction - holding that the state had withheld favorable evidence (results of a gunshot residue test termed 'inconclusive' as to whether Zolo had fired a gun). The court also found that Zolo's trial counsel had provided ineffective assistance ( he was so intimidated by the police state atmosphere surrounding the trial that he didn't sit at the same table as Zolo; he failed to interview defense witnesses; he put on no evidence during the trial or the death penalty phase. ) After a second sentencing trial in 1996, Zolo was resentenced to death; by a jury composed of 11 whites, and no Blacks.
In 2002, the Indiana Supreme Court vacated Zolo's second sentence of death, finding that Black people had been systematically excluded from the pool from which the jury had been chosen. In fact, half of Allen County's Black population had been eliminated from the jury pool for the previous 15 years.
All three Allen County Superior Court judges have been forced to recuse themselves from Zolo's case. Two were disqualified for blatant conflicts of interest and the other left the bench to enter an alcohol rehabilitation centre. In 2004, Boone County Circuit Court Judge Steven H David was specially appointed to over see the case. Ruling on a motion filed by Zolo's defense counsel, Michael Deutsch of the People's Law Office in Chicago, Judge David held that Zolo's constitutional rights to due process and a speedy trial have been violated, and prejudice would result if the death penalty was pursued after a 23 year post conviction delay in sentencing. The judge found that the State was largely responsible for this delay. Nevertheless, the Lake County Indiana prosecutor has filed an appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the order which bars him from pursuing a third death sentence. Meanwhile, people around the work continue to oppose a new death penalty for Zolo.
Zolo Agona Azania
Indiana State Prison
PO Box 41
Michigan City Indiana
Michael Deutsch, Esq
Peoples Law Office
1180 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago Il 60622
No Death Penalty For Zolo Committee
PO Box 478314
Chicago IL 60647