December 16, 2006

Blessings of Liberty In The Land of The Free

In America, land of the free, we take certain liberties for granted. Our Constitution itself explicitly declares that, “we, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice and insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and ensure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish the Constitution for the United States of America.

Those are some pretty strong words coming from a band of revolutionary insurgents, our Constitutional forefathers. But have you ever thought about what the same group of men (sorry, women had no rights back then – that’s why they specifically said every man is created equal, not women!) might write today if they had to do it all over again? What might they write if they lived in our contemporary society?

Historically speaking, this band of brethren were especially concerned with protecting the individual person against the power of government, and to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

Could they have envisioned that this “Land of Liberty” would one day evolve into a country that incarcerates more of its citizens in jails and prisons than any other country in the world? Recent studies released by the U.S. Department of Justice (Now, that’s an oxymoron – run by morons!) show that right now there are over two million men and women incarcerated today – and well over seven million citizens presently under judicially imposed restraint. That means that almost one of every 40 people in this country live under actual judicial restraint. (Read, ”Death Row Tea Party”)

Our constitutional forefathers knew firsthand what oppression by an unfair government was. Clearly, their intent was to protect people from the excessive use of power of government. So, what would these fine men say today upon realizing that in recent years our own Supreme Court has declared that prosecutors are legally immune from accountability even if they deliberately convict and condemn an innocent man with fabricated evidence? (Read, Prosecutorial Misconduct: Does Immunity Invite Injustice?)

Think about this for a minute – here in America where “truth and justice” supposedly serve as the very foundation of our judicial system, a prosecutor is legally immune from civil accountability even if he is caught red-handed fabricating evidence and coercing false testimony with deliberate intent to send an innocent man to death row. As if that itself is not outrageous enough, this same Supreme Court then declared in Herrara v. Collins, 506 U.S. 390 (1993) that the Constitution does not prohibit the execution of an innocent person…it is constitutionally permissible to allow a state to put an innocent man to death, as long as he was given a “fair trial.”

Of course, if a person is convicted and condemned to death, there is a presumption that legal representation will be provided, right? Well, actually that’s wrong. The Supreme Court has also declared that those sentenced to death are not entitled to legal counsel. See, Murray v. Giarratano, 492 U.S. 1 (1989).

Most states have subsequently recognized that they cannot execute a person unless they are technically represented by a lawyer, so the states have taken it upon themselves to establish state funded quasi public defender offices to represent the condemned. But these state funded and thus state controlled offices more often provide nothing but the pretense) of representation and serve only the purpose of actually facilitating the execution. (Read, ”Legal Representation In Capital Cases – Privilege or Pretense?”)

Our esteemed Constitutional forefathers also placed great value on the concept of fundamental fairness in dealing with government and thus incorporated into The Bill of Rights the right to “due process,” which traditionally prohibits the government from engaging in unfair practices – sounds like a good things to me.

But then reality comes along and kicks our butt again. Under contemporary Constitutional law “due process” is defined by what process is due under definition and application of current statutory provisions.

What this means is that politicians who campaign for office by promising to push for more executions can pass current laws that substantially limit the right to review of a conviction. Take for example the “great” (puke!) State of Texas, which by far executes more men and women than any other government in the free world. Because of politically inspired and manufactured procedural rules governing appellate review of a capital conviction and sentence of death, appeals based upon newly discovered evidence – even if conclusively establishing a persons factual innocence – cannot be raised any later than 30-days after the conviction becomes final.

Let me put this in perspective – assume for a moment that you have been wrongfully convicted and condemned to death for a crime you know you are innocent of, but because of the incompetence of your state provided lawyer you couldn’t prove it. They now schedule your execution date. Suddenly God himself and a counsel of twelve archangels miraculously appear before the Texas Courts and declare unequivocally that you are innocent.

Sorry Bubba – in Texas not even the sworn “eyewitness” testimony of God himself can stop that execution, as under present Texas law (as well as many other states) politicians have created statutory laws stripping the courts of jurisdiction to even hear new evidence once the conviction becomes “final” after initial appeal.

I often smile at the unintended ignorance of people only vaguely familiar with our legal system – people who like Mary Poppins live in a fairytale world and remain conveniently clueless at how inherently corrupt our judicial system has become. Too many times I have heard (or read) these sheep say things that prove their ignorance. Most of the time they even mean well – they just don’t know any better.

For almost 24 years now I have suffered under an injustice few people can even begin to imagine. In early 1983 I was indicted and subsequently tried and convicted and condemned to death for a double homicide I know I am innocent of, a capital case of alleged premeditated murder that I know was deliberately fabricated by a single key witness and the local state attorney’s office. (Read, Southern Injustice: Condemning An Innocent Man)

Several years ago evidence came to light supporting my long pled claim that this entire case – the entire theory of events – was deliberately fabricated with the intent to have me wrongfully convicted. By the states own admission, there were no eyewitnesses, no physical or forensic evidence, and no confession. The entire wholly circumstantial case was based upon my then ex girlfriends claim that I told her I killed these two people by premeditated intent; her testimony was corroborated by her own cousin’s girlfriend, Deborah Hanzel, and the state attorney’s lead investigator, Robert Daniels.

In 1998 Hanzel admitted her testimony was false. Subsequently, in a letter to the judge (Circuit Court Judge R. Thomas Corbin) she explained at length how both key witness Frances Smith-Ottinger and the state attorney’s lead investigator, Robert Daniels, has coerced her to provide that false testimony. (See, ”Affidavit of Deborah Hanzel”)

When a hearing was held on this new evidence it was revealed that in fact, at the time the case was brought, this key witness (Smith-Ottinger) and the local state attorney’s lead investigator, Robert Daniels, were actually having a secret personal relationship “of a sexual nature,” which of course they never previous disclosed.

To put this into perspective, this case was out of one of the smallest rural farming communities in the south. (Glades County, Florida) The office that prosecuted this case now has the highest rate of wrongful convictions of any state attorney’s office in the entire country. (Twentieth Judicial Circuit of Florida) So far, at least five men have been wrongfully convicted and condemned to death by this office only to subsequently be exonerated and released from death row. ( Delbert Tibbs, James Richardson, Bradley Scott, John Landry, and John Ballard)

After the evidence was revealed finally substantiated my long pled claim that the evidence used to convict and condemn me was deliberately fabricated – just as I always said it was, (of course, I didn’t know my ex grilfriend was sleeping with the states lead investigator the very person who initiated these charges against me and personally supervised the development (fabrication?) of the circumstantial evidence used to convict me!), then suddenly the local circuit court and the state put the brakes on and have methodically obstructed progress of my case. ( Read, Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied.)

I now remain on Florida’s death row despite the fact that the evidence has been readily available for years to prove my innocence. One of the millions incarcerated here in the “land of the free,” one of the many innocent victims of a legal system that has become so inherently corrupted by lynch mob politicians and politically corrupt judges.

Thus, during this holiday season I will sit here in my cage condemned to death for a crime I am innocent of and reflect upon these “Blessings of Liberty” here in the “land of the free.” And I will ask you to say a silent prayer for the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, wives and husbands and children of the millions of imprisoned souls who cannot be home with their loved ones and especially for those many who remain unjustly imprisoned by a system so inherently corrupt and cannot be with their loved ones.

Perhaps now I will write Santa Claus a letter asking him to send me some justice, but then again, I have no chimney so I guess I’m out of luck.