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A Question of Justice: The Case of Martin Sostre

BY LORRIN ROSENBAUM AND JUDITH KOSSY


One man's courageous struggle against censorship and the inequities of the American legal system recently ended in victory. Martin Sostre, a black man sentenced in 1967 to 35-41 years for allegedly selling $15 of heroin finally received executive clemency. Tried in the aftermath of race riots and amid public furore, Sostre contends that he was framed for his political views and the literature he sold as the owner of the Afro-Asian Bookstore in Buffalo, State of New York. Few cases in recent history raise as many crucial questions of jurisprudence for courts in the United States. The issues involved — pre-trial publicity, jury selection, bail, recantation by the prosecution's chief witness, and brutal treatment in prison — make Sostre's experience a paradigm of judicial problems.


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