Electric Review

Culture & Criticism From the Far Distant Realms

Note From the Editor

From the Editor: In this issue of Rat’s Notebook we are proud to present guest columns from a practicing criminal defense attorney, a retired judge and mediator, and a former probation officer. The subject matter of these pieces deals directly with issues that have a profound bearing on your freedoms as an American. They require your attention and the attention of every citizen of these states. Turn a deaf ear to these questions and the doors of your democracy close – slammed and locked forever.

I.

Tony Serra is a renown criminal defense attorney and a San Francisco counter-culture icon. But aside from his legendary prowess as a lawyer and his ability to win “unwinable cases,” Serra is a man of deep conviction — a man who’s dedicated his life not to the pursuit of money, but instead to defending Americans against government oppression.

Tony Serra’s client list over the past 40 years has included Hell’s Angels, SLA members, Black Panther radicals and impoverished American Indians facing death penalty charges for killing cops in self defense. Even though the alleged crimes and the clients have been different, Serra has remained the same. He is an anachronism in the strictest sense of the word: A lawyer with true social consciousness, Serra doesn’t care so much about his retainer agreements as he does the erosion of our personal and civic rights, fighting in the name of the collective spirit.

And after four decades practicing law, Tony Serra has been in enough courtrooms to know that the government is becoming too powerful. Too many of our constitutional rights are being stripped from us. Yet, no one mentions it. Our newspapers and television analysts faithfully report the news, but seldom comment on it (while the devastating affects these conditions have had on the poor and the under-privileged are enshrined in silence).

Make no mistake — with every passing day the very idea of this Democracy crumbles just a little bit more. Serra sees it firsthand in the cold courthouses of America, and he’s contributed the following column to Rat’s Notebook, now making public his concerns and fears and uncensored realizations (much like the poet Allen Ginsberg did in 1955, howling out against the stark machine mind and the faceless corporations that shackle our lives).

In the end, the equation is simple: give away too much of the heart and you’ll mourn the holy flowers of your soul forever.

by John Aiello

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This entry was posted on December 1, 2003 by in 2003, December 2003, Rat's Notebook and tagged .
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