AMERICAN INDIAN MOVEMENT GRAND GOVERNING COUNCIL
FOLLOWING IS THE SUMMARY OF THE 8TH CIRCUIT DECISION ON THE ARLO LOOKING CLOUD APPEAL:
There were 4 grounds for the appeal. 2 grounds dealt with the admissibility of certain evidence such as the so-called violent history of AIM, and the rumors ( hearsay ) regarding Anna Mae being an informant. We argued allowing such evidence into the trial was prejudicial. The Court disagreed stating the background of AIM was relevant to the motive to murder Aquash as an informant. Also, if the evidence was admitted in error, it was only harmless. As to the hearsay about her being an informant, that too was properly allowed.
Another issue was that the evidence in the trial was insufficient to convict Arlo of murder. We argued that his mere presence at the scene was not enough. We also argued that the whole case was based upon conflicting statements made to others such as Trudell, Yellow Wood, Two Elk, etc. - no direct proof. The Court basically said that there was enough for the jury to make a decision. The Court did not really discuss the quality of the evidence.
The final issue was ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. This was the strongest issue in my opinion because Rensch failed to challenge the misconduct of Ecoffey and Alonzo in their relentless pursuit to trick Arlo into making statements in violation of his constitutional rights - over a period of almost ten years. The Court did not rule on this claim stating it is best left for a separate proceeding before the trial court called a Habeas Corpus, because the evidence needs to be developed in a full blown hearing.
So while it is disturbing the Court did not really look at the weakness of the evidence brought forth at trial, they did leave us with the opportunity to bring back a significant claim which might be our best hope.
At this point we will probably request a rehearing at the 8th Circuit with the full court; however, these are rarely granted. As to an appeal to the Supreme Court, I feel that too is a long shot because the issues decided in this decision are not constitutional in nature. However, I will engage in discussions with other attorneys, such as Barry Bachrach to see if this is worthwhile.
As to the Habeas Corpus, we will begin to compile evidence regarding the history of Arlo's contact with Ecoffey and Alonzo, the relationship between Ecoffey and Darlene Nichols, etc. I do not want to reveal too much here, but over the next 6 months we will vigorously pursue these avenues in preparation for a filing before Judge Pearsol.
I hope this clarifies the status of this appeal. To all of Arlo's family, friends, and supporters, I'm sure you know what we're up against. This is a long struggle. But I will not give up and will pursue every avenue to obtain freedom for Arlo.