Essay on Hurricane

This essay has a total of 1868 words and 9 pages.


Hurricane





Hurricane by James S. Hirsch
In James S. Hirsch’s book about Rubin "Hurricane" Cater, Hurricane, the author
describes how Carter was wrongfully imprisoned and how he managed to become free. Hirsch
tells about the nearly impossible battle for Carter and his friend John Artis for freedom
and justice. Both, Carter and Artis, were convicted of a triple homicide, and both were
innocent.

The book raises the importance of, and questions, the writ of habeas corpus. Carter used
a writ of habeas corpus to get a federal trial. Many question the legality of Carter
going into federal jurisdiction, when his case should have been heard before the Supreme
Court of New Jersey. It was a gamble, but the federal judge gave fair justice to Carter
and Artis. The State of New Jersey appealed the case all the way to the United States
Supreme Court, which upheld the District Court’s ruling.

Rubin "Hurricane" Carter was a boxer who hailed from Paterson, New Jersey. His story
begins in the summer of 1966, during the Civil Rights Movement. Carter was at the
Lafayette Bar and Grill on June 17th, but he was denied service by the bartender, James
Oliver, due to his race. Carter left the bar after being denied service. Around 2:30
A.M., two armed black men came into the Lafayette Bar and opened fire. Oliver and one
customer were killed instantly. Two other patrons, Hazel Tanis and William Marins, were

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seriously wounded. Patty Valentine, a tenant who lived above the bar, looked out her
window just after the shooting. She saw two black men leave in a white car.

Nearby Alfred Bello and Arthur Bradley were breaking into a factory. Bello was the
lookout, and his exact location - inside or outside the bar - would be a point of
concentration for the next twenty years. The police arrived at the bar within minutes.
They took statements from Marins, Valenine, and Bello. Not one of them said they had seen
Rubin Carter, one of Paterson’s most well-known citizens, at the scene. A police
bulletin radioed officers to be on the lookout for a white car with two black men inside.

Four minutes after the shooting, but before the police bulletin, a Paterson police officer
was chasing a speeding white car which was leaving town. The car got away. As he
returned to Paterson, the same officer heard the bulletin and stopped another white car,
leased by Rubin Carter. Artis was driving and Cater was the passenger. The police
escorted Artis and Carter to the crime scene.

No one at the crime scene identified Carter and Artis as the killers. They were then
taken to the hospital where Marins and Tanis did not identify them. They were released
from police custody around 7:00 P.M. on June 17th. They were not charged at the time.

Between July and October 1966, Bello and Bradley were offered a deal. In exchange for
identifying Carter and Artis as the killers, they would get leniency for all of their
pending criminal charges. Bello was also told he would get to claim the $10,000 reward
offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the two killers. Bello
signed a statement claiming he saw the pair outside the bar right after the shootings.

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Consequently, Carter and Artis were arrested on October 14, 1966 and charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
At the trial, Bello testified against Carter and Artis. He claimed that the was outside
the bar, on the street. His testimony was key to the deliberations of the all-white jury.
Carter and Artis were both found guilty of murder in the first degree. Each received
three lifetime sentences which were upheld by the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Prosecutors made good on their promises to Bello and Bradley. Bello continued to rely on
police protection with the courts until 1974, when he was told nothing more would be done
for him. He was no longer benefiting from government hand-outs, so Bello began to tell a
different story. A story that was more consistent with his first police discussion, and
one that would exonerate Carter and Artis.

Rubin Carter was telling his story in a book, The 16th Round. This book received
significant attention. Even Bob Dylan was intrigued by it and agreed to meet with Carter.
He left the meeting convinced that Carter was innocent and told the world what he thought
in his song, "Hurricane." The song was released in 1974 and one of the verses castigated
Bello and Bradley:

Now all the criminals in their coats and ties
Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise
While Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten foot cell
An innocent man in a living hell.

Just prior to the publishing of The 16th Round, Bello and Bradley recanted their
testimony. They told a New York Times reporter that the Paterson police had pressured
them into lying. Based on this development, lawyers for Carter and Artis fliled a motion

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for a new trial. It took the New Jersey Supreme Court to overturn the convictions and
order a new trial to begin on October 12, 1976.

Before the beginning of the second trial, the prosecution was concerned about
Bello’s testimony, so he was asked to take a polygraph test. He agreed, but the
Continues for 5 more pages >>




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