October 29, 2006

An Open Letter To Journalists

Dear Journalist,

Have you ever dreamed of winning a Pulitzer? Very rarely will the opportunity come along – if you’re lucky, maybe once in a career. Would you recognize that opportunity if it did?

As you may be aware last month the American Bar Association released an in depth report following a comprehensive five year study of Florida’s death penalty system, concluding it is “fundamentally flawed” and calling for a moratorium until adequate reforms can be adopted. Among the substantial deficiencies highlighted in this study is the fact that Florida – by far – leads the country in the number of men and women exonerated and released from death row after being wrongfully convicted and condemned to death. (At least 25 since 1972)

Are you aware that the 20th Judicial Circuit of Florida (Southwest Florida; Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry, and Glades Counties) leads the entire country in the number of wrongful capital convictions? Why does a relatively small states attorney’s office account for so many? (Albert Tibbs, James Richardson, Bradley Scott, John Lundry, John Ballard). Although that fact by itself is troubling, I believe that what is even more troubling is that nobody is even asking why? All of those wrongful convictions were the result of deliberate, overzealous prosecutorial misconduct, yet nobody has ever questioned the policy and practice of that states attorney’s office…Why?

I realize that there’s a common perception that everyone on death row is screaming they’re innocent, but with Florida’s record it stands to reason some of them are telling the truth!

I have been on death row since march 1984 after being convicted and condemned to two capital murders in rural Glades County, Florida. The entire case brought against me was wholly circumstantial… there were no eyewitnesses, no physical or forensic evidence, and no confessions. Although no defense was presented and I was prohibited from testifying myself, the first ended in a hung jury – but a second trial resulted in my convictions.

I have always adamantly entire “theory” of premeditated murder brought against me was deliberately fabricated by the states sole key witness (my ex girlfriend, Francis Smith) and the local states attorney’s office. A few years ago my long pled (but seldom heard) claim of innocence was finally substantiated when a state witness (Deborah Hanzel) unexpectedly admitted that her trial testimony was false. Under oath she subsequently testified that she was deliberately coerced to provide that false testimony by the states key witness (Smith) and the state attorneys own lead investigator, Robert Daniels.

A subsequent investigation into her claims revealed even more startling information concealed by the state… the key witness (Smith) was actually engaged in a personal relationship “of a sexual nature” with the local state attorney’s lead investigator (Daniels) while this case was brought against me. Investigator Daniels was in fact the very person who swore out the affidavit initialing these capital charges against me and then personally developed the circumstantial evidence use to corroborate the key witnesses story and convict me! Independent experts subsequently concluded this evidence was deliberately fabricated.

With the evidence now substantiating my long pled claim of actual innocence the local court and the state have mutually adopted a different strategy to prevent exposure of this already inconceivable injustice – my case would simply now be held hostage by the lower court and the review deliberately procrastinated. My case has now been before the 20th Judicial Circuit Court in Ft. Myers (Judge R. Thomas Corbin) since January 1988 – almost nine years!

To put this into perspective, in late 1988 when a “death warrant” was signed upon me, scheduling my imminent execution, I was assigned a lawyer to file my original post conviction appeal. This process, the time it was filed in that lower trial court to the time it was “fully reviewed” and denied by both the lower court and the Florida Supreme Court, took 32 days!

I ask you this… if the state finds it necessary to expedite review of a capital case when their intended objective is to execute a person, then doesn’t the basic concept of fundamental fairness (not to mention moral conscience!) demand that review of a substantial claim of actual innocence also be equally expedited? If our judicial system finds it necessary to rush to kill a person, then shouldn’t they also find it necessary to at least timely review, without unnecessary delay, a substantiated claim of actual innocence? What could possibly perpetuate a greater injustice than to deliberately procrastinate review of a substantiated claim of actual innocence for many years?

Justice delayed is justice denied! I ask that you help expose this injustice. Please read my case summary entitled “Southern Injustice: Condemning An Innocent Man” and article “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied” at my blog found at www.lambrix.blogspot.com

It is said that, “evil can only prevail when good men choose to do nothing…” What choice will you make? If you have any questions my present lawyer is William Hennis, CCRC Litigation Director, and he can be reached in Ft. Lauderdale at (954) 713-1284, or you can email me at michaellambrix@hotmail.com (it would be forwarded)

Thank you for your time and I pray you will help expose this injustice.

Most Sincerely,
~Michael Lambrix~