Supreme Court briefs filed in support of Cuban Five

Twelve friend of the court briefs (amicus curiae) were filed with the U.S. Supreme Court March 6 in support of the position for the Court to review the case of the Cuban Five. This is the largest number of amicus briefs ever to have urged Supreme Court to review a criminal conviction.

Ten Nobel laureates signed the briefs, Timor Leste President Jose Ramos Horta, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Rigoberta Menchu, Jose Saramago, Wole Soyinka, Zhores Alferov, Nadine Gordimer, Gunter Grass, Dario Fo and Mairead Maguire, as well as the Mexican Senate, the National Assembly of Panama, and Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland (1992-97).

In addition were hundreds of world legislators, including:

• 75 members of the European Parliament, including two former presidents and three current vice presidents of this legislature;

• 85 Mexican deputies;

• 87 members of the United Kingdom House of Commons;

• 9 senators and 33 deputies of the Irish Parliament;

• 11 members of the Parliament of Scotland;

• 17 senators and 138 deputies of Brazilian National Congress;

• 4 senators and 8 deputies of the National Congress of Chile;

• 4 representatives, a senator and a former senator of the Belgian Federal Parliament;

• 7 members of the German Parliament (Bundestag);

• 2 members and 2 former members of the House of Councilors and 5 members and an ex member of the House of Representatives of the National Diet of Japan.

Other amicus briefs were presented in the name of numerous legal and human rights associations of different countries, international personalities and legal and academic organizations in the United States, including: The Center for International Policy, Council of Hemispheric Affairs, Civil Rights Clinic at Howard University School of Law, Cuban-American Scholars, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the National Jury Project, The National Lawyers Guild and the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the William C. Velasquez Institute and the Mexican-American Political Association.

The United Nations Human Rights Commission has condemned the Miami trial of the Cuban agents, marking the first and only time in history that that body has condemned a U.S. judicial proceeding. Citing a “climate of bias and prejudice” in Miami, the Commission’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions concluded that the “trial did not take place in the climate of objectivity and impartiality that is required to conform to the standards of a fair trial.”

Several of the amicus briefs filed by U.S. organizations also ask the Supreme Court to review the prosecution’s striking African Americans from the jury. The prosecutor used seven of nine “peremptory challenges” (where no explanation need be given to strike a juror) to strike black jurors. The Court of Appeals ruled that no inquiry need be made into the prosecutor’s motives because three other black jurors, a minority on the 12-person jury, were seated. The briefs maintain that this allows prosecutors to mask their manipulation of the racial make-up of a jury.

The U.S. government’s brief in opposition is presently due April 6. The Court is likely to decide whether to grant review before its summer recess in June.

The amicus briefs, along with a complete list of the amici, are posted at