Opinion on CNN: Bill Cosby Should Apologize

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Opinion

cnnThe most devastating word Bill Cosby ever uttered is "yes." When the attorney for one of his accusers asked Cosby whether he had acquired quaaludes (the 1980s version of Rohypnol) to give to women to have sex with them, Cosby answered "yes." Pursuant to a confidentiality agreement, Cosby thought that word would never be heard in public -- but now it has. And it will destroy a legacy built over a remarkable career that has spanned over four decades.

The legacy doesn't belong just to Cosby himself; it belongs to you and to me. His legacy has been adopted by generations who view Dr. Huxtable as a model for good parenting.

In the 1960s, while the nation struggled with integration, Cosby was a black actor who was welcomed into white living rooms on a weekly basis with his humor, success and selfless friendliness. He was someone we could trust. Colorblind, we looked to him as someone who can help us with parenting. He taught our children lessons through Fat Albert and Picture Pages.

Now, instead of Cosby being the father and the grandfather to generations, his legacy lies tattered by the excesses that have become a cliche of the 1970s and 1980s: sex, drugs, and now rape.

Read the full op-ed on CNN.com»

Media Coverage of the Criminal Justice System

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Outreach

media meetingAngela Starke, the Public Information Officer for the Office of State Attorney Jeffrey Ashton, joined the PIOs for several other agencies involved in the criminal justice system for a seminar designed to give members of the local press a refresher on how the system works. Justice stories get more and more coverage these days, and like it or not, reporters have become inextricably entwined with the criminal justice system.

Nearly forty reporters, producers, and news directors came to the State Attorney’s offices for a three-hour presentation that guided the press corp through a hypothetical scenario, and provided pointers for how to deal with each agency involved in the justice system. Along with my Communications Director, I spoke on behalf of defense attorneys and gave reporters some suggestions on how to deal with criminal lawyers, who may find themselves overwhelmed when a high-profile case hits their practice.

It was a great program, and I think it should be reproduced in every media market in the country.

Working to Reunite Baby Penelope with Mom

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Outreach

Last year, I had the privilege of reuniting Sarah Markham with her baby boy. If you recall, Sarah Markham is the vegan mom who lost her baby to child protective services after insisting on vegan formula. It took us more than five months to reunite mother and child, and the experience reminded me how broken and dysfunctional the system is. Now I’m embroiled in another high-profile fight, this time to reunite Baby Penelope with her mother, Jesse McCreery. It’s been 9 days since Jesse has seen Penelope -- and it’s not because Jesse has been prohibited from seeing the baby; she has been permitted supervised visits. It is simply because DCF has been unwilling or unable work with the foster parents to coordinate the visits. That is unacceptable and is more criminal than any act Jessica is alleged to have done.

I express some of my frustrations in this news report»

Mathew Ajibade Death Certificate Leaked on Internet

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Advocacy

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For more than five months, we’ve been fighting for answers regarding how and why Mathew Ajibade died while in custody at the Chatham County Detention Center in Savannah, Georgia. Last week, we learned that Mathew’s death has been ruled a homicide from blunt force trauma -- but we didn’t get this information from the Sheriff or from the District Attorney: it was leaked on the Internet.

Since we have been on the case, 9 deputies involved in the incident with Mathew have been fired. The jail administrator has stepped down. Policies have been changed and a consultant has been brought in. But it is not enough. These actions have been taken only after we brought public scrutiny to the case, and we feel it is all an effort to distract attention from the real problem: systematic failures stemming from the poor leadership of the Sheriff himself, and systemic biases against those who need help most: mentally challenged individuals and any citizen arrested and housed in a correctional facility.

This week, we filed a motion seeking to have District Attorney Meg Heap replaced, citing her multiple conflicts of interest including her cozy relationship with the Sheriff. Last week, I appeared on CNN as an advocate, urging that the powers in Savannah be transparent and forthcoming so Mathew’s family can get the answers they deserve, and so that don’t have to endure the torment of learning the details of Mathew’s death as they are leaked out, one by one, on the Internet.

See my interview and the story on CNN.com»