01/29/01 -- U.N. ASKED TO SEND OBSERVERS TO CONFEDERATE TRIAL
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The United Nations Commission for Human Rights has been asked to send observers for the upcoming trial of the Confederate Memorial Association in D.C. Superior Court, which is scheduled for Abraham Lincoln's birthday on February 12.
In a letter to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson in Geneva, Switzerland, John Edward Hurley, president of the Confederate Memorial Association, cited the fact that it had taken him 12 years to get a jury trial. In addition, he said that he was being denied legal counsel, had been jailed, had evidence disappear from the court record, and had little hope that the court would allow evidence for his defense to be presented to the jury.
The Confederate Memorial Association had owned and operated the century-old Confederate Memorial Hall museum and library in downtown Washington, D.C. The lawsuit claimed that white supremacist organizations were entitled to use the facilities without the approval of the CMA Board of Trustees. The legal team filing the complaint is led by former Reserve Officers Association president and general counsel Herbert Harmon.
Hurley claimed that the petitioners were being financed through illegal campaign contributions, government affirmative action contractors, and extremist groups that had been linked to such organizations as the Aryan Nation.
Among those sued in the legal action were Mr. Hurley's wife, senior White House correspondent Sarah McClendon, and a former curator general of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Hurley said that, since he had received no response from Attorney General Janet Reno to his letter which included documentation that the primary sponsor of the litigation -- a $550,000 per year Cambodian lobbyist -- had failed to list his political campaign contributions with the Justice Department, it became more imperative that an outside organization monitor the court proceedings.
The United Nations has long considered the denial of legal counsel to be a human rights violation.
The Confederate Memorial Association sponsored a horse unit in the inaugural parade of the elder Bush.