Saturday, April 19, 2014

Ex-hijacker slams public defender

William Potts
For weeks, William Potts waited behind bars in South Florida while the State Department produced documents about his crime, the 1984 hijacking of a commercial airliner to Cuba.
Finally, more than 1,000 pages of documents arrived. Potts began going through them. One line  jumped off the page:
The Office of the U.S. Attorney says that it is willing to work with Mr. Potts to resolve the issue and to recommend that he be given credit for prison time he has served in Cuba.
As Potts sees it, that line means he shouldn't have to do any additional jail time now that he has turned himself in to U.S. authorities. And, in a letter to Along the Malecón, he said he was thrilled to find the document. But he said his lawyer, Robert Berube, didn't have the same reaction.
I asked this man who is supposed to be defending me if he had read any of the documents obtained by the court. He hadn't, although his office had sent them to me 10 days ago. 
I pointed out to my "defender" that I had been sitting in a prison cell, the result of 2 continuances (45 days each one) waiting for the arrival of these documents...my lawyer doesn't even bother to read them.
Potts said Berube, an assistant federal public defender, told him the document was "irrelevant." I sent Berube an email today requesting his point of view and have not heard from him.

Potts said in his letter that he doesn't believe his lawyer is acting in his best interests. He wrote:
My court-appointed attorney now informs me that the prosecutor persists in seeking a minimum of 20 years for me, but believes he can talk her down to 7 to 10 years.
The people here are trying to coerce me into going to prison, but I'm intent on fighting for justice and fighting for freedom.
Later, Potts said in a phone interview:
I'm putting their feet to the fire. You've got to shame these people into doing the right thing. The whole system is set up against you. 
Eric Holder
Potts also sent Along the Malecón a letter addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder. It stated, in part:
Fifteen years' hard time in a Cuban prison gives a man an excellent opportunity to reflect on his past. Suffice it to say that my passion for radical politics, and politics in general, became notably less intense. I have grown old, and the days of the firebrand militant have long passed away and are no more. 
Mr. Attorney General, I've literally traded my spears in for plowshares. I'm just a farmer now, the father of two little girls, and I'm trying my best to do the right thing by everybody, but these people here won't let me turn the corner and put this long festering open sore behind me. When a man serves his time, he should be allowed to get on with life...

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