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SLEEPY LAGOON DEFENSE COMMITTEE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Los Angeles, March 1. — Attorneys for the Sleepy Lagoon boys today submitted a brief to the Board of Prison Terms and Paroles at San Quentin on behalf of the 12 boys convicted in January 1943 and now serving terms as high as life imprisonment for the alleged murder of Jose Diaz — asking that minimum sentences be set and paroles at the earliest date allowed by law.
The brief reviews the conditions under which the trial was conducted and contends that a fair trial was not had. In evidence are submitted photostatic copies of a magazine article written during the trial by a high police officer, which assumes the guilt of the 22 boys on trial and copies of a report to the Grand Jury by a member of the Sheriff's office which views the "biological basis" as the approach to the question of crime and charges Mexicans with not having any regard for the value of human life.
Also in support of the charge that there was bias in the trial, are cited the facts that the boys were not allowed to sit with or consult their counsel during the trial, that they were not allowed haircuts or change of clothing, and that the trial judge directed sarcastic remarks constantly at defense counsel and defendants, while maintaining most amiable relations with the prosecution.
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According to the brief, it was the mass character of the trial and the race prejudice manifested in it which made possible a conviction, and states that if each of these boys had been given a separate trial, not one of them could have been convicted.
The activities of the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee, headed by Carey McWilliams, prominent author and attorney, and the support given to the committee by individuals and organizations are cited as evidence of the public interest in the case.
Attached to the brief are copies of an article which appeared in the San Quentin News, praising the conduct of the Sleepy Lagoon boys at the prison and congratulating them on their fine contribution to the athletic activities.
At the same time, the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee submitted to the parole board letters from Orson Welles; Charlotta A. Bass, Editor of the "California Eagle", Negro Weekly; Gabriel Navarro, Editor and publisher of "El Pueblo", Spanish-language weekly, asking that the parole board give special and careful consideration to the cases of the boys...
This in no way affects the legal action which is being taken. The case is now pending before the Second District Court of Appeals.