In And Out Of The Slammer p.13

By: M.L. STEIN BRUCE ANDERSON, THE free-swinging, politically incorrect publisher of a Northern California weekly, was in and out of the slammer recently in a dispute with the district attorney over a letter he received from a fugitive.
The facts in the case were clear enough. Mendocino County Superior Court Judge James Luther cited Anderson for contempt and slapped him into jail for refusing to turn over a letter to his paper, the Anderson Valley Advertiser, from an alleged killer of a sheriff's deputy.
But what puzzled Anderson, according to his brother, Robert, is that the publisher did eventually release the letter to the district attorney, who wanted it as evidence in the homicide.
The district attorney complained that the supposed letter from the suspect, Eugene "Bear" Lincoln, was a computer-generated communication of no use in his investigation. He wanted the original and Luther backed him up at a May 29 hearing, overruling Anderson's claim for protection under the California shield law.
"That is the original as far as we know," Robert Anderson told E&P. "In any case, that's all Bruce got. Even the signature is a printout."
The Advertiser staff eventually convinced Luther the letter received by the paper was the original. After spending two weeks in jail, the judge freed Anderson.
Lincoln, an Indian, has since turned himself in to his lawyer and is in jail awaiting trial.
The case goes back to April 14, 1995, when a friend of Lincoln's, Arylis Peters, shot and killed another Indian in the town of Covelo.
Sheriff's deputies confronted Peters, Lincoln and Peters' brother that night and shots were reportedly exchanged.
Deputy Bob Davis, also an Indian, was killed, as was Peters.
The letter accuses the sheriff's department of only being "interested in getting a body count" and planning "to kill as many Indians as they could . . . . 'Shoot to kill Bear Lincoln' was the order of the day. Don't give him no chances, blow him away, guilty or innocent, he must die."
There is no confession or denial of Davis' murder in the letter, which was printed in full by the alternative Advertiser, which is published in Boonville.
The Advertiser ? which bills itself as "The country weekly that tells it like it is" ? is long known for its unrelenting criticism of county government. Below its flag are purported quotes from Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and Joseph Pulitzer ? the former advising, "Be as radical as reality," and the latter urging, "Newspapers should have no friends."
The 56-year-old Anderson (the name similarity with that of the paper is a coincidence) has riled a lot of people in the valley, but he's not exactly friendless.
While he was jailed, some letters of support were received by the paper, including one from a man who enclosed a $100 check to start a "defense fund" for Anderson.
The writer commented: "Setting aside all its bullshit, your paper does serve as an example of what a newspaper should be. We owe you."
Another writer charged the Advertiser with a "lot of unfair attacks" on county activists, including herself, but added: "Bruce did not decide to subpoena that letter or make himself an issue in Bear Lincoln's trial . . . . Bruce is not being targeted for anything he did wrong. He is being targeted for something he did right."
An Advertiser story on Anderson's arrest led off (in the paper's typical style): "Bruce Anderson was hauled off to County jail Friday. He was magnificent.
"In a County where to get anything accomplished, petty horsetrading is the norm. Bruce's stand was principled."
The issue also contained an interview with Anderson just before he was jailed and before he surrendered the questioned letter.
The ex-Marine was quoted as saying: " . . . I haven't been sentenced for any crime . . . . I haven't been tried for any crime. I'm not awaiting trial for any crime. I'm in there to coerce the document from me."
Anderson asserted there was no need for the contempt order because Lincoln's lawyer had admitted he was at the shooting scene.
It was Anderson's second incarceration. In 1984, he spent 60 days in jail for disturbing the peace in connection with a fight with the county superintendent of schools during a school board meeting.


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