Judge Van Bebber invoked the fugitive disentitlement doctrine and denied the latest petition for a new trial. He stated that O’Neal should not be able to benefit by a positive adjudication of his claims without submitting himself to the risks of an unfavorable decision. However, O’Neal had sworn in his affidavit that he would return to the United States for a new trial and thereby face the risks of an unfavorable decision. Magnarella critiques both Judge O’Connor and Judge Van Bebber for valuing the preservation of judicial resources over justice by refusing to take the time to carefully examine the merits of O’Neal’s petitions. Magnarella regards the judges’ invocation of the fugitive disentitlement doctrine as cover-up for the judicial errors, prosecutorial irregularities, and constitutional violations that characterized O’Neal’s unfair trial in 1970. O’Neal reacted to the latest petition denial with deep disappointment.
Keywords: Judge Van Bebber, Paul Magnarella, Judge O’Connor, Pete O’Neal, fugitive disentitlement doctrine