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State High Court Refuses to Block Olson's Trial

March 23, 2000

LOS ANGELES — The state Supreme Court refused Wednesday to block the bomb conspiracy trial of Sara Jane Olson, the former Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive whose lawyers contend the grand jury that indicted her was chosen improperly.

The court denied, without comment or dissenting votes, a request by Olson to review the issue and block the trial, scheduled Aug. 14.

Olson, 53, is accused of conspiring to commit murder by putting bombs under police cars in a failed 1975 plot to avenge six SLA members killed in a shootout. The bombs didn't explode. Formerly known as Kathleen Ann Soliah, she was a fugitive until her arrest last year in St. Paul, Minn.

Her Supreme Court appeal challenged the selection of the county grand jury that indicted her in 1976. Its members were nominated by the county's Superior Court judges, then chosen by lot.

Defense lawyers argued that the procedure created a conflict of interest because a Superior Court judge also decides whether an indictment is valid. The lawyers said only California and Virginia allow judges to choose grand jurors. Other states and the federal government use different systems, such as selection by jury commissioners.

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