On October 1, Michael L. Rains, lawyer for Johannes Mehserle, filed a motion in Los Angeles court alerting the judge he was going to file for a new trial in November 2010. Why a new trial? Here’s the brief, in Rains’ own words:

” In January of 2009, Johannese Mehserle became the first California police officer to be charged with murder in a on-duty shooting. Since the Alameda District Attorney was aware of two seperate witnesses who heard Mehserle say he was going to tase Oscar Grant, and a host of other witnesses who saw the look of shock and horror on his face imediately after a single gunshot was fired, it would have been understandable had the DA charged Mehserle with involuntary manslaughter. Instead, for rerasons that certainly include racial politics and pressure from political figured and community leaders,not to mention the loud demands of rioters and looters, the DA began this precedent-setting murder prosecution.

After a more than three-week trial, debating for slightly over six hours, the jury unanimously rejected the prosecution’s view of the facts. The jurors found that Mehserle intended to use his taser, announced his intention loudly and clearly, but then, like seven officers before him had done, mistakenly drew and fired his gun. The jurors nevetheless concluded that Mehserle should be heldcriminallhy liable for making that tragic mistake.

Before this Court imposes judgement on that verdict it must make sure three things are true:

First, the Court must be confident that its evidentiary rulings were correct in light of the verdict. The Court’s rulings excluding Grant’s probation and parole status, and  fact he had a gun during a prior arrest–all of which might have been justifiable during 352 counts in a murder prosecution–amount to federal consitutional error in light of the present verdict.”

Read the rest of the brief here, on Scribd:

Mehserle 1408095247

What’s the short version?

Rains says he has uncovered new evidence, from another trial when an officer who shot a man with a taser and was acquitted, that would have changed the jury’s mind if it had been introduced as evidence in this trial;

Also, the Court was vauge and sloppy and contradictory in its instructions to the jury as how to deliberate on a verdict;

Given that the actual charge was involuntary manslaughter, it would have been appropriate to discuss Grant’s parole status and arrest with a gun.

The court will hear arguments on Rains’ motion Nov. 5 in Los Angeles when Mehserle is scheduled to be sentenced.

Follow the trial  and Mehserle news here.


About The Author

Susan Mernit is editor & publisher of Oakland Local (oaklandlocal.com) a news & community hub for Oakland, CA. A former VP at AOL & Netscape, & former! Yahoo Senior Director, Mernit was consulting program manager for The Knight News Challenge, 2008-09; was a 2012 Stanford Carlos McClatchy Fellow; and is a board adviser to The Center for Health Reporting at USC, Annenberg School of Journalism. She has consulted with many non-profit organizations on strategy, product development and social media/engagement, including Salon.com, TechSoup Global, Public Radio International and the Institute for Policy Studies/Economic Hardship Reporting Project, led by Barbara Ehrenreich.