Page One

SLA trial lawyer wants quick trial for himself

The Associated Press
Thursday May 17, 2001

LOS ANGELES — One of Sara Jane Olson’s defense lawyers plans to demand a quick trial – for himself – when he appears for arraignment on misdemeanor criminal charges related to the case of the former Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive. 

J. Tony Serra, who is charged with improperly disclosing the addresses and phone numbers of witnesses, was scheduled for arraignment Thursday along with his co-counsel, Shawn Chapman. 

After the hearing, both lawyers were to appear in Olson’s case where the judge will set a schedule for hearing pretrial motions. Chapman and Serra may claim that they are too distracted by defending themselves to proceed with the Olson matter. 

Chapman said Wednesday she hopes the case against her will be dismissed because a judge in Olson’s case previously found that she had nothing to do with the alleged violation. 

She said that Serra, a San Francisco lawyer, will demand a trial within 45 days. 

“He’s very concerned because he didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. “It’s outrageous.... We may be the only two people who have ever been charged under this statute.” 

Two police witnesses, James Bryant and John Hall, complained that a court document containing their names and addresses was posted on an Olson defense committee Web site. They said they feared for their lives. 

Olson’s lawyers said the information was posted inadvertently by Olson supporters without knowledge of the legal team. It was removed following complaints. 

Olson, 54, is accused of attempting to murder Los Angeles police officers by planting bombs under police cars in 1975 in retaliation for the deaths of six SLA members in a fiery shootout in 1974. The bombs did not explode. 

Indicted in 1976 under her former name, Kathleen Soliah, she remained a fugitive until her 1999 capture in Minnesota, where she had taken on her new name and was living as a doctor’s wife, mother and active community member. She has said she is innocent and that she never belonged to the SLA.