in the Course of Human Events...
|I am a jailhouse lawyer. I am not what the Attorney Generals
and Prosecutors depict as a jailhouse lawyer to the media. I am a real
jailhouse lawyer. I'm one of the ones you never hear about from the government.
None of the actions that I have filed in the courts for myself, or for
any other person, has ever been dismissed as being "frivolous."
I am also something else that you do not know about. I am what is referred to among jailhouse lawyers as a "supervising" jailhouse lawyer. When problem in litigation presents itself that no one else has ran across before, when an issue is so new or unique that there is no law on it and it must be formulated as a "case of first impression" for a court of law, I'm the one the other jailhouse lawyers write to for advice.
What is contained in this book I write only in hope that it will one day be published. That is because what I have to say will be disturbing to many of the members of the legal community and members of the American Bar Association. Since those people comprise the majority of your Legislatures, Judges, Governors, Senators, and in general, the people who run this nation, I anticipate political resistance to this book's publication.
This is because I'm here to give you specific examples of cases that I have worked on over the past nine years where the justice system in this nation has broken down. I am here to tell you that the war on crime, and the war on drugs has placed ever increasing numbers of innocent American citizens in prison. I'm here to tell you that your government knows this and is passing laws that have the effect of hiding this knowledge from you, the American public, to prevent a backlash of public opinion that would result in many of these members of the bar coming under public scrutiny.
Please understand something as I reach this point in the introduction of the subject matter of this book. The majority of the members of law enforcement in this nation are good people. It is only a small percentage that are more concerned with their careers and their conviction, or arrest, rate to the point of where they are willing to sacrifice individual liberty in their pursuit of greater glory. However, allow me to give you one small example that shows the seriousness of the damage to our society that even a few unscrupulous prosecutors can do.
Do you remember reading in the newspapers about the six Philadelphia police officers who entered a plea of guilty to framing innocent men and women and stealing drug money? Do you remember that literally thousands of criminal convictions had to be reviewed in which these officers had in some way participated in the convictions?
These people, as part of their job, come into contact with a steady stream of citizens accused of all types of crimes. Note the word "accused." In the heat of human interaction, false accusations do occur. It is the job of prosecutors, judges and the courts of this nation to separate those citizens who are rightfully accused or suspected of crimes, and those who are wrongfully accused or suspected. If everyone did their job, then few really innocent people would ever see the inside of a courtroom.
There have been movies made about the "thin blue line." Everyone has seen the stories about how police do not tell on one of their own, and the "code of silence" that protect police who, because of either stress or poor judgment, or in some cases outright meanness, step over the boundary set by the Constitution between enforcement of the law and the enforcement of personal beliefs or feelings.
What you have never seen portrayed in a movie is the "thin gray line" of prosecutors and State Attorney Generals who will not concede that they have convicted an innocent man or woman. These prosecutors and State Attorneys file perjured affidavits, misstate the record in hopes that the reviewing judge will not read it, slander and degrade the convicted person in their legal briefs, and file frivolous appeals as a matter of regular practice.
Another line exists that you have never seen. There is a "thin black line" of elected local judges who in some cases never even bother to read what the prisoner has filed before them, and will accept any excuse or explanation from the local prosecutor no matter how outlandish or improbable.
In some cases the local judge, who works everyday with the prosecutor on case after case, literally works with the prosecutor in obtaining convictions. They make rulings on the evidence that is to be adduced at the trial in front of the jury based on a presumption that the criminal defendant is guilty, they remove attorneys who are doing too good of a job defending their client, and they allow other attorneys, who have little or no criminal experience, to be appointed and ran roughshod over during the trial by prosecutors who daily do nothing but prosecute criminal cases. When the trial is over, other attorneys, with little or no criminal experience are appointed to "unpopular" crimes or cases for appeal.
These "thin gray and black lines" are a wall of silence in and of themselves which hide their colleague's misconduct and mistakes.
There is no greater example of this than the standards that have been set for a finding of ineffective assistance of trial or appellate counsel by no less than the United States Supreme Court.
How many of you have ever assumed the daunting task of going into your local law library in the Courthouse and actually sitting down and reading the cases in the books? No doubt very few. Part of that is because a law library is not organized like a regular library. In fact, it seems almost to have been deliberately organized in a manner to place it within the realms of the great mysteries of life. Only a truly persistent individual, and one with a great deal of patience, will ever succeed in unscrambling the system that is presently used with it's citations and the manner in which headings, topics, and subheadings are divided and subdivided ad infinitum.
For instance, you are charged with a crime, which under statute, has two separate charges contained in it, the second of which causes you, if convicted, to be subject to a greater sentence. At trial you are convicted of the basic crime, but found not guilty of the second part and thus not subject to the greater sentence. On appeal you have the crime for which you were convicted reversed for prejudicial trial error. The prosecutor decides to retry you. (Bear in mind he can do this because the first conviction was reversed. It is called "continuing jeopardy" and does not constitute double jeopardy).
However, the second part of the crime for which you were acquitted at the original trial cannot be charged again. The acquittal by the jury is final and to retry you on that would be double jeopardy. At pretrial hearings in the retrial after the reversal, the prosecutor files a motion with the court that, while he cannot charge you with the second part of the crime, he wants to reuse all the testimony and evidence adduced at the first trial as to that second part of the crime, as evidence that the first part of the crime actually occurred so that he can obtain another conviction and send you back to prison.
There is a doctrine that has developed through the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment which prevents this. It is called direct estoppel. When you were acquitted of the second part of the crime at the first trial, that acquittal went not only to the charges against you, but to the evidence and facts that were testified to in support of that charge.
So, if you went to your local law library and wanted to find this doctrine and file in opposition to the prosecutor's motion to use this same evidence, for which you had been acquitted, against you at the retrial, common sense would tell you to start in "Criminal Law" or "Double Jeopardy" and you would find cases to support your position. Wrong. Direct estoppel is actually found under the heading of "Judgments." This is an entirely different book in West's Digest.
My point is that not only are the cases and decisions written in "legalese" but the books needed to find the cases have an indexing system that would drive a competent cryptographer insane.
There is a provision in every Canon of Ethics for licensed members of the bar, which is subject to a Disciplinary Rule that states that it is a violation of the Disciplinary Rules of attorneys to teach any layman the law. In other words, if you don't pay your dues, if you don't go to law school, if you don't pass the bar (which, by the way, requires being sponsored by a member of the bar), then you don't belong.
So we, the citizens of this nation, have an exclusive club of persons who govern our life and decide whether or not we receive a fair shake in the courtroom, and who also make the laws that they enforce. Not only that, but they cover for each other when they make mistakes and pretty much control what the press is told about those cases and mistakes. Have you noticed that when a "big" case is being tried, or a "big" conviction has just been obtained, that the press doesn't go into the County Jail and ask the defendant what happened (and probably if they did he would say that his attorney told him not to talk to them), but it is the prosecutor on the courthouse steps, or in the hallway, talking to the media and giving his version of the events?
Are we to believe that there is only one side to all these stories? Do you believe that the justice system is 100% efficient, or even 95% efficient? (bear in mind that only 5% of all convictions are ever reversed). Well I have news for you. An automobile engine is only 37% efficient.
Perhaps it is time that the present system of justice is examined. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to follow along with me, although at times you may feel it would help. After all, I'm just a lowly jailhouse lawyer. I have little formal education. I am basically self-educated.
If at this point you are a lawyer, or a judge, who thinks there is nothing in here that you could learn you are probably right. My father had a man that worked for him for many years that kept a plaque on the wall over his desk that said, "If you're too old to learn, you probably always were."
The author of this book, besides being a self-taught jailhouse lawyer, is a former member of the Top One Percent Society. MENSA encompasses the top 2% of the general population in I.Q.. The author reads over 700 words a minute and has a long-term memory retention for 93% of everything that he reads and a 98% short term memory retention.
A close friend of mine, and member of MENSA, once stated that the difference between the persons in our society who are deemed to be "average" (if there is any such thing), and the persons blessed with an intelligence quotient in the superior to gifted range, is the difference in their ability to perceive patterns from what the former perceive as isolated facts. She then stated that it's like trying to explain to a person who sees in black and white what a color television looks like.
If you're up to it, turn the page and jump on this ride. When it's over, if you're ever called to jury duty again, the prosecutor may ask if you have ever read this book and attempt to disqualify you if you have.
There are 1.8 million prisoners in this nation. If only 5% are actually or factually innocent of the crimes for which they are incarcerated, then as you read this book, 90,000 men and women who should not be in prison lay somewhere on a bunk, walk a hall, or stand looking at a barbed wire fence, knowing that they have been stripped of their rights, publicly humiliated, separated from their wife and children, or separated from their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, without just cause or reason.
With the changes in the laws of this nation that have been enacted in the past 20 years, chances are that they are doing 10 to 20 years without any possibility of parole. By the time they are released the most productive years of their life are not only gone, but they are almost unemployable.
Society should strive to punish the guilty for their crimes swiftly and with an even hand dependent upon the nature of the crime committed, the real harm done to the victims of that crime, and with the intent of rehabilitating the convicted felon in order to return them to society as a productive member.
The most important mission of any system of justice is to instill respect for society and its laws in the persons who break those laws. The most important duty of any law enforcement member is to ensure that the persons they arrest, try, convict, and supervise, know in their heart, that from the day they were arrested to the day they are released free back into society, that they have been treated fairly.
Unfortunately, with the "lock them up and throw away the key" mentality of today’s society, some law enforcement members feel they have a license from the public to step outside the law in order to place a name on a case number and stamp it "solved."
What's worse is that the persons convicted wrongfully do not have a voice to speak for them, and the few voices that they have had in the past are being taken away from them. Another line is going up across this nation. That is a line of silence around the prisons. Recently California prohibited news media and journalist from communicating with any California prisoners without the prison official’s permission. The federal courts upheld the ban. Across the nation Departments of Corrections in state after state are passing prison regulations that prevent prisoners from writing or communicating with other prisoners under the pretense of "security" and the prevention of "gang activity."
These are the same prison officials who open and read every prisoner’s every letter as it arrives, and in a lot of cases, before it is sent out. In the latter case, they do so in violation of the same laws the people they guard are imprisoned for breaking.
This is to prevent prisoners from sharing legal information and knowledge more than anything else, and when suit is filed challenging these restrictions under the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, federal courts decline to intervene.
In the following articles and anthology, deliberate obstruction by the prisons in the filing of legal papers, communications with attorneys, access to law books, the lack of legal assistance to the illiterate and other topics will be covered in detail. At the end of these articles, if ever finished, the long-term impact on society and who we are as a nation will be addressed.
I believe it was King George V who said that the first thing we should do is hang all the lawyers. Perhaps in today’s society a better solution would be not only to ensure that those of our society who are accused of criminal offenses get experienced criminal lawyers to defend them, but are given a realistic review of their lawyers actual performance in their collateral review.
The law in our nation made a wrong turn when it became the policy of the United States Supreme Court that the finality of state court criminal convictions, and strict compliance by the prisoner with convoluted, highly technical, procedural requirement, are more important than the guilt or innocence of one of the citizens of this nation.
Only recently have the first prosecutors who knowingly withheld evidence of the innocence of a criminal defendant been charged and brought to trial, after that man was proven innocent 10 years later. Only recently have any articles concerning prosecutorial misconduct began to appear in major media outlets.
A lot of that attention is the result of the actions of Ken Starr. Out of everything that has been written about Ken Starr and the actions of the people he was in charge of during the investigation of the President of the United States, one particular quote stood out to me.
In NEWSWEEK, Ken Starr was quoted as saying that he really did not understand what all the fuss was about over his investigation of the President. He stated that what he had done was standard prosecutorial tactics for every prosecutor in this nation. What is so frightening about that statement is that he is right.
THE UNWRITTEN CODE OF CONDUCT OR, LET'S MAKE A DEAL
Before progressing to specific cases I want to present a hypothetical case that contains a composite of several cases and situations that I have encountered during the past nine years.
Let's just pick a hypothetical attorney and give him a hypothetical name of Mr. Stevens. He practices in a hypothetical Midwest city that is 95% Catholic and has a population the majority of which is of German-Dutch descent. The cities general political trend is conservative. Like all good Americans they spend their evening switching from Top Cops to America's Most Wanted, then top off their evening with L.A. Law and the local news which splashes scenes of the two violent crimes committed in this city of ½ million on the television screen for the first ten minutes of the 11 O’clock news. Their Chief of Police appears solemnly and vows to place more officers on the street. (As if anyone in the city can go to the Seven-Eleven without passing four patrol cars now).
Mr. Stevens, who has been practicing law for 14 years in this city, goes to Court Monday morning to appear in a case for which he has been retained at $300.00 per hour. While there, the morning arraignments are being heard and the Court, seeing Mr. Stevens in the courtroom, appoints him to the case of a man before him who cannot afford an attorney.
The man, let's call him Mike, is charged with the aggravated robbery of a convenience store, with a firearm specification, attempted felonious assault on the store clerk, resisting arrest and felonious assault on a police officer. Altogether Mike is facing around 18 to 55 years if convicted. Mike's bond is set at $250,000.00. This is really just a formality because the same day Mike's parole officer places a parole holder on him due to the new charges and under the parole holder he is ineligible for bond or release. Mike is committed to the County Jail to await trial.
How was Mike arrested? Mike was sitting at home in his apartment when his door burst open and four men in black unmarked jackets with guns in their hands came bursting into his house. Mike picked up an ashtray and threw it at one of the men (felonious assault on a police officer and resisting arrest), before he was tackled and thrown to the floor. He was handcuffed and placed in a police cruiser which took him to a convenient store near his home. One of the police officers went inside the store and brought out a store clerk, while the other officer shines his flashlight in Mike's face.
The officer asks the Clerk if this is the man that robbed him. The store clerk looks confused for a minute and hesitates and says, "I don't know." The officer walks the store clerk over to the side out of hearing and a conversation takes place for a few minutes. The store clerk returns and asks if he could look again. The officer again shines his flashlight in Mike's face and the store clerk says, "I believe that's him." The officer says, "You can't believe that's him, it's either him or it isn't." The store clerk says, "That's him."
Mike has a record. Mike just spent 3 years in prison for a robbery when he was 18 and is still on parole. His sentence was 3 to 15 years. The police know Mike is on parole. The police get a search warrant for Mike's apartment and in the apartment the police do not find anything except some wrappers for quarters and around $70.00 in cash. The police find receipts from the store in Mike's apartment.
Mike tries to call Mr. Stevens' office repeatedly from the jail. All of his calls, necessarily collect, are refused.
The state is required to bring Mike to trial within 90 days. On the 89th day of Mike's incarceration, Mike is taken to the courtroom and placed in a holding cell. A young attorney appears at the cell bars and identifies himself as an associate of Mr. Stevens. He tells Mike that he is either must go to trial today or must enter a guilty plea.
The young attorney tells Mike that they have worked out a deal with the prosecution that if Mike enters a plea of guilty to the aggravated robbery and one gun specification that the state will drop all of the other charges against him and that Mike will be sentenced to 5 to 25 years with a 3 years gun specification to be served prior to that sentence commencing.
At this point it should be noted that no one has ever asked Mike if he did the robbery or not. No one has asked him if he is innocent or guilty. No one has come and talked to him to see if he was somewhere else when the crime was committed, or if perchance he was on the telephone talking to someone at the time the crime was committed.
This is the exact position that thousands of persons accused of criminal offenses in our society find themselves in on a regular basis. The above scenario is common. If you have a prior criminal record, and if you are arrested for a new crime, everyone, including your court appointed attorney, presumes that you are guilty.
The police had broken down Mike's door and arrested him based on an anonymous tip and telephone call. The store clerk, who could not initially identify Mike, even at what is called a "one-on-one show up identification," which is illegal as hell, was told by the officer who pulled him aside at the police cruiser, that Mike was a parolee from a previous robbery and that the police had "reliable" information that Mike was the one who had robbed the store.
The store clerk, once he committed himself to an identification of Mike, has done what many eyewitnesses do, he had substituted Mike's face for whatever it was that he actually remembered of the person who had robbed him.
Mike is 5'6" tall and stocky. He has brown hair and a mustache. The man described by the store clerk that robbed him the night before was given on the police report as being a man about Mike's age, 5'9" to 5'11" inches tall, with dark brown hair and weighing around 160 to 170 pounds. But the store clerk never saw Mike standing, only sitting in the police cruiser with a flashlight in his face.
Mike literally goes ballistic with this young attorney. He asks why no one has come to talk to him or ask him for any evidence that he has to produce to show he is innocent. The attorney states that the police have an eyewitness identification of him and that the attorney does not believe that with Mike's past record that he can beat the case at the trial.
At this point note that Mr. Stevens' law firm receives the same amount of money from the state whether or not Mike goes to trial. That amount varies from state to state, but in all cases it comes to much less that the attorney's can charge paying clients. In other words, for every minute the attorney spends with Mike, or on his case, the attorney is losing money.
Mike knows, even though the attorney didn't mention it, that if he enters a plea of guilty to anything, even just to get it over with, that his parole will be revoked and any sentence will be served consecutively to the remaining 12 years on his first sentence. Mike tells the attorney that he has witnesses that will establish that he was over at his mother's house with his girlfriend the night the robbery occurred and will not enter a plea of guilty to anything. The attorney says that they will have to ask for a continuance and that Mike will have to waive his rights to a speedy trial if he will not enter a guilty plea.
The attorney leaves and goes into the courtroom. An hour later the deputy sheriff comes and leads Mike in handcuffs and shackles into the courtroom. The bailiff calls Mike's case. The attorney stands and states that he has consulted with his client and that the client desires to exercise his right to a jury trial on the matter.
The attorney states that the defense is not ready for trial and asks for a continuance. The judge points out that this is the 89th day and that if a continuance in the matter is needed, that Mike will have to waive his rights to a speedy trial under state law. The attorney states that Mike will do that. A form is executed and Mike is required to sign it. The judge, prosecutor and Mike's attorney check their schedules to see when it is possible for all three to again come together for the trial. A tentative trial date is set in three months. Mike is escorted back to the county jail.
Over the next two months Mike tries to assist his attorney, who actually comes to see him twice, by going to the law library in the county jail. However, the law library, while it contains shelves and shelves of books containing case law, does not contain any of what is referred to as "secondary" references. These secondary references are the indexes to the books on the shelf.
Without the "Digests," it is impossible for Mike to sift through the millions of cases contained in the books supplied. The county of course knows this. But to the untrained eye of a citizen who might have cause to tour the county jail, the law library looks daunting, when in reality, it is incomplete to the point of uselessness.
The attorney has been provided no money for the investigation of Mike's case. His total investigation consists of calling the people that Mike says can establish his alibi.
At the trial three months later, the four police officers testify that they received a telephone call from an informant who had identified Mike as the man who had robbed the convenient store and acting upon that information found out that Mike had previously been convicted of a robbery and was out on parole. They testified that they knocked on his door and announced that they were police officers, and that when they received no answer they forced the door open. They testify that when they entered the apartment that Mike was getting out of a chair and grabbed an ashtray and threw it at one of the officers. The officer testified that the ashtray hit him on the arm and that he had a bruise on his arm for about a week.
The store clerk gets up on the stand, describes the robbery, and identifies Mike as the person who robbed him and struck him on the side of his arm with a pistol when he did not open the cash register fast enough. Mike's attorney questions the store clerk on the differences between the description he had given the police on the night of the robbery and Mike's appearance and description. The store clerk states that it all happened so quickly that maybe the description that he had given the police the night of the robbery was inaccurate.
The prosecution, on redirect, asks the store clerk again if he can positively identify Mike as the person who robbed him. The store clerk says yes. The store clerk denies that the police officer told him that Mike was on parole for a robbery, but had only taken him aside at the cruiser to give him time to "think."
Mike's mother and girlfriend testify that the night of the robbery they were at Mike's mother's house discussing wedding plans for Mike's sister. A neighbor of Mike's testifies that he heard a loud noise in the hallway and when he looked out he saw the four men with guns rushing into Mike's apartment and that he called the police. He testified that he did not at any time hear the men identify themselves as police officers, or knocking on Mike's door. On cross-examination, the prosecutor elicits that Mike's neighbor had been arrested and convicted for passing a bad check 7 years previously.
Mike testifies that he was at his mother's house the night of the robbery with his girlfriend and doesn't know anything about it. Mike testifies that there was no knock on his door prior to the four men forcing it open and coming into his apartment. Mike testifies that none of the four men identified themselves as police officers until after Mike was handcuffed on the floor of his apartment. Mike admits to grabbing an ashtray and throwing it at one of the men coming into his house.
The prosecutor shows Mike the wrappers for the quarters found in his apartment and asks him where he got them. Mike says that he got them at the bank, that he saves his change. The prosecutor wants to know why he had $70.00 cash on him. Mike says that he always tries to keep some cash available. The prosecutor shows Mike the receipts from the convenience store and asks where he got them. Mike says that the store is only a couple of blocks from his apartment and that he shops there sometimes.
The prosecutor questions Mike in detail on his previous conviction for robbery, how long he was in prison, and the fact that he is still on parole. The prosecutor asks Mike if he robbed the convenient store. Mike says that he did not. The prosecutor looks at Mike, gives an audible "Hummmph," and says, "I have no further questions for this defendant."
In closing arguments the prosecutor points out to the jury that Mike's mother and girlfriend have a vested interest in Mike not being convicted. The prosecutor points out that the four officers were honest hard working police who protect the community against people like Mike everyday. The prosecutor states that the store clerk had a good opportunity to see Mike during the robbery and that the lighting in the store was good.
Mike's attorney argues that the state has not proven Mike guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He argues that the state has provided no evidence that Mike robbed the store and that the store clerk's original description did not match Mike.
During the instructions to the jury the Court instructs that the jury cannot consider Mike's prior conviction, or the fact that he is on parole, or the prior conviction of Mike's neighbor for passing bad checks, for any reason other than as weighing the credibility of the witnesses.
The jury leaves the room for deliberations. Mike is returned to the county jail. The jury deliberates for two days and returns a finding of not guilty on all charges.
Mike is returned to the county jail because he still has a parole violation holder on him. Two weeks later Mike is called to a parole violation hearing. The panel calls the store clerk and the police officers as witnesses. Mike's parole attorney calls Mike's neighbor and Mike's mother, telling Mike that it is not necessary to call his girlfriend. Everyone repeats their testimony at the trial.
The parole panel finds that Mike had been ordered while he was on parole to attend weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and that he had missed those meetings for the past 6 months. Mike's attorney raises the fact that Mike was in the county jail on the parole officers parole holder during those six months and could not attend the weekly meetings. The panel violates Mike's parole and commits him back to prison to serve out the rest of his term of 12 more years with another parole hearing to be held in two years.
Mike and his attorney over the next two years appeal the decision which is upheld by the Department of Corrections. When Mike appears at his parole hearing two years later, the robbery and felonious assault charges are discussed as reasons for continuing to deny parole. Mike's attorney argues that Mike was acquitted of those charges. The parole board states that Mike's was only found not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the jury, but that the standard of proof for the parole board was probable cause and that the parole board felt that there was sufficient proof presented at the trial and at the parole revocation hearing by the police that there was probable cause to believe that Mike had robbed the store, assaulted the police officer and that he had failed to complete the programs mandated by his parole guidelines. Mike is given another parole hearing date of one year.
During the year Mike gets into a fight with another inmate. When Mike sees the parole board again, they give him another year for the fight.
Five years after Mike, sitting in his living room watching T.V., minding his own business, had his home broken into by the four men he later found out were police officers, Mike is released from prison for another year of parole supervision.
You just read how the system works in many cases. Is it any wonder that the government does not want you to listen when a convict speaks? What you just read is literally a best case scenario. In 9 out of 10 similar cases, Mike would have been convicted by the jury simply because he was an ex-con and the only witnesses he had was his mother, girlfriend and an ex-con.
Further, the attorney would have been long gone after the first parole hearing and Mike would have been left depending on jailhouse lawyers to fight the parole board. Not that the parole board would have mattered much since Mike would have been more concerned with trying to appeal the new convictions. After all, if those were never overturned he would be 60 years old before he saw the parole board anyway.
Before this article, I had written a few short isolated essays which had been published in the journal of the Top One Percent Society, In-Genius. That Society has now merged with the One-In-a-Thousand Society, and is now called "Termite." I am still a member and still occasionally submit articles for publication. The articles, studies and essays following have all been written in the spirit of exposing the failures of the judicial system. What follows is, as I so aptly described above, quite a "ride."
I want to point out something about the following articles. Up until 2002 I was receiving the monthly updates from the U.S. Department of Justice, National Criminal Justice Reference Center in Rockvllle, Maryland, and quoting the statistical studies I ordered from them frequently in support of the overall theme, i.e., that the judicial system is broken.
From 2002 until now, I have been litigating my Motion for New Trial, and it took me a while to realize the monthly updates were no longer showing up in my mail. I wrote a couple of times to the DOJ Reference Center, thinking my subscription had simply expired, but received no answer. I then had a friend go on the Internet and check with them, only to find out the Reference Center has been sending me their monthly newsletter, but that it is apparently being seized by the prison mail room.
It appears studies that I have constructed and published, such as "All the King's Horses and All the King's Men...," have maybe told a little too much of the truth for the "powers that be," and in order to diminish some of the impact the statistics I quote have given my articles, I am now being denied access to those statistics.
I have begun the process of correcting that problem, now that I have become aware it is not simply a mistake in communications with the Reference Center. It will take probably six months for the evidence to be gathered so that a proper Grievance can be filed. At that point I will either began receiving the statistical studies again, or I will be in litigation on the issue.
I am also, within the next few days, filing an Update of my website at www.innocentinmates.org. Quite honestly, I have been somewhat depressed since I received the intellectually dishonest five (5) page "decision" of the new trial court judge on February 5th, 2005, dismissing my Motion for New Trial.
I had waited two years for that decision, and had been told the new judge was someone who was "trying to do what was right," despite the traditional anti-prisoner reputation of the Courts in Cincinnati, and the well deserved reputation of the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office throughout the Ohio Prison system as the dirtiest prosecutorial system in Ohio.
To understand why, you need only read the judge's decision where he "finds" that "no dates" of the crimes charged against me were given by the alleged victim during her testimony at the 1996 trial, and go to my website on the Innocent Inmates Association and click on the links to Transcript pages, 710-712 and 657-658, where dates are clearly given by her-- the same dates my new evidence proves I was 4,000 miles away, living In Mexico.
I made the mistake of getting my hopes up that this was finally coming to an end. Worse, I allowed myself to convey those hopes to my family and my wife, Elizabeth. I should have known better after all these years of learning the hard way that building up false hopes, then jerking the rug out from under a prisoner and dashing those hopes, is how the "system" breaks prisoners into giving up and quitting, even when they are right and the system is wrong.
But "they" have been trying to break me for years. That is why the trial court judge from the 1996 trial sent a letter to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, after my trial, specifically requesting that I be sent to Lucasville. Surviving there takes up most of a man's time, and litigating effectively is almost impossible, absent a focused purpose and strong will.
It will be curious to see if the system will ever come to the realization that I simply refuse to break. I'm right, and that Is all I need to get me through the day. I may have bad days, I may get depressed sometimes, I may get discouraged sometimes, but it is at those times my anger sustains me, and the blatant attempts to break me through outright perfidious intellectual dishonesty only fuels the fires of my anger.
I've noticed a pattern that repeats itself with me. When I am most discouraged, when I am most outraged over the latest kick in the back, when I am to the point of standing and staring out of my cell window, that night, or the next, or the one following that, inevitably, I wake up out of a sound sleep at 3:30 or 4:00AM, full of determination and ready to start punching the keys on this typewriter again. Ready to pick the fight up where it left off.
Somewhere, many years ago, I read something that has stuck with me and I want to relate it to you, in particular to any other prisoner who reads my articles. I believe I read it in a book called, URANTIA that is classified in the Library of Congress as a "revealed" work.
It said that when looking at the fabric of life, it is important to always remember we are looking at a white background with black splotches on it, not a black background with white splotches on it.
I say this because a good friend of mine in here said something to me yesterday about all the following studies and articles, that raised a concern I had not considered before. John said my articles were the best weapon to use against the system he had ever seen, in relation to educating the public about the things the government doesn't want them to know, and hopefully getting enough people talking and thinking about what is written here that a "tipping point" will be reached and the issues raised will become a political issue in this nation.
Yet at the same time, he said, because of the vast amount of unfairness I reveal, my articles, when read by a prisoner attempting to fight the system, could be so devastating to that prisoner's confidence of ever receiving justice, that he could become discouraged and quit fighting the injustice in his case, believing it was a hopeless fight.
He said that to a bookworm like me, it might be obvious that what is exposed by the articles is information and ammunition with which to hone and refine the arguments presented to a court. Yet to a "street warrior" like him, the injustices in the system I expose, backed up by hard statistics, coupled with the knowledge that he lacks the education to effectively fight in the same manner as I assert the battle must be fought, are so overwhelming as to make him feel he is fighting a hopeless battle in the courts, to the point of making him want to quit fighting under "their" rules, and start fighting under his rules, and take no hostages in the process.
To any prisoner who reads these articles and begins to feel like John told me the articles made him feel, like fighting your case is hopeless, I want you to understand something important, and that is how important your battle is to what I am doing here. These articles are meant to instigate social change through educating the public to the things they will not read in their newspaper, or see on the ½ hour nightly news.
They are intended to get the public thinking and talking about something that they generally have little interest in, or care about, by showing how what has happened to the wrongfully convicted can just as easily happen to them, or their children, if the problems described are not addressed and corrected by them, because it is now obvious that those in our government who are capable of changing what is wrong with our system of justice have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, and without public knowledge and outrage at what they are doing, have no incentive to change the serious problems exposed in the following articles and studies.
You, the prisoner who has been wronged by the system, and who is fighting to correct that wrong, must continue to file in the court, argue your case the best you can, and keep an active record building in the files of the courts so that when the articles below generate enough interest in free people, to where they go looking for the injustices resulting from the inadequacies in the judicial system that I am exposing, they find your case, and see that what I am telling them is wrong with our justice system results in injustices just like yours.
I need you to do your part as evidence of what I am telling the public. I am on the Front Line of this war on the "good old boy" system in the judicial system, fighting them with the one thing they cannot fight--the truth. You are my logistics, my support, my ammunition, because when you get screwed over by some judge and prosecutor collaborating together, I can point to how they screwed you over, explain why it is wrong, and tell the public, "See, I told you so."
I am fighting the same battle as you are, its just that God blessed me with the ability to take the fight to another level and attack the system that produces the injustices as opposed to the individual injustice itself. Once I can show the public a pattern of injustices, I will attract the attention of the people who believe in America and the ideals it was founded upon, and once they begin to understand, we, all of us, will become real people in their eyes, subjected to injustice, instead of nameless prisoners assigned a number and forgotten.
I write under the heading of, "From The Front Line." That comes from a statement made by United States Supreme Court Justice Brennan In a case decided In the late 60's concerning a prisoner's right to help another prisoner In filing his legal papers. Justice Brennan stated:
"The prisoner's petitions in this nation
So few citizens ever stop to think about the fact that it is those in our society who have been convicted of crimes and imprisoned who really know whether or not our justice system is actually working the way it is intended to work. The right of these imprisoned citizens to file and complain in the Courts of this nation forms a "check and balance" function as important as the First Amendment's guarantee of a Free Press and Free Speech.
These prisoners know the truth of matters the public can only gather information on second-hand, such as whether or not a police officer lied during the trial, whether or not the attorney assigned to the prisoner sold him out in exchange for leniency in another case, or political capital, whether or not the police crime lab "experts" lied about the evidence, whether or not the prosecutor withheld evidence proving he is innocent, and dozens of other aspects of the entire process by which that prisoner was processed by the criminal justice system, from the moment of his or her first contact with them, to the time the prisoner was released from prison.
There is an unfortunate truth about human history--it is written by the winners of whatever struggle was important enough to be recorded in history. The loser's side of the story is seldom ever told, or widely distributed enough to survive the passage of time.
America is at a turning point that may be looked back upon by future historians as the most crucial choice this nation made. It may also determine how this nation is remembered in the history of mankind, either as a nation of laws that respected individual freedom, or a nation that corrupted the idea of individual freedom through apathy and hypocrisy, by forcibly imposing on other nations ideals we only practice on paper.
It takes the exposure of the hypocrisy through the stories told by the prisoners of this nation being allowed to receive wide exposure for any chance of the apathy the general public embraces towards prisoners to be dispersed. It takes each individual who has been wronged by the system set up to protect them from wrong, raising their voice in protest and making a hard record that can be reviewed, whenever the public gets enough interest to look.
If you are one of the 100,000+ innocent citizens fighting from a prison cell for the restoration of your liberty, and exoneration from the crimes you have been convicted for, please do not be discouraged by what I have written to the point of thinking you have no chance of winning your case. It is your story, your appeals, your outrage at injustice which gives what I have written a chance of waking the public up to what happened to you, and to thousands like you, to the point of where the true rulers of this nation, the American People, call to account those government officials responsible for you being where you are.
It is the collective voice that will eventually be heard. This is not for you, it is for your children, and your children’s children. You may never win your case. But in continuing the "good fight," and making a record that can be found and read, you may be a part of winning a much larger case--a case that forces serious reform in our system of justice, and ensures that others like you will not sit in prison the rest of their lives without recourse at law or remedy.
If we do not write our own history, who will write it for us?
Until next time, this is Jim Love reporting From The Front Line.
James Love. All Rights Reserved.
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