January 27, 2007

~ Petition Filed In The U.S. Supreme Court ~ Jan 2007 ~


Re: Death Row Inmate Asks U. S. Supreme Court to Recognize Constitutional Right to Timely Review of Actual Innocence Claim.

On January 22, 2007 Florida death row inmate Michael Lambrix filed a petition in the United States Supreme Court asking the Court to recognize a Constitutional right to timely review of a claim of actual innocence raised in a state court.

Statutorily forced to represent himself, Lambrix argues that although the Supreme Court has repeatedly addressed the question of whether procedural rules favorable to the state can be strictly enforced to default an appeal raised by a prisoner because it was not timely filed, the Supreme Court has never addressed whether similar procedural defaults can be imposed upon the state when the state is found to have obstructed and denied timely review of a state post conviction appeal.

At 46 years old “Mike” Lambrix has spent almost his entire adult life in solitaire confinement on Florida’s death row. For 24 years now Lambrix has argued his innocence to anyone who would listen, although very few would. Convicted and condemned to death in one of the smallest counties of the South, Lambrix has consistently insisted that the entire wholly circumstantial case of capital murder brought against him was deliberately fabricated with the intent to have him wrongfully convicted and condemned to death.

The case brought against Lambrix in the rural farming community of Glades County, Florida in early 1983 was questionable all along. There were no eyewitnesses, no physical or forensic evidence, and no confessions. The entire wholly circumstantial case was based upon Lambrix’s recently estranged ex-girlfriend's specious claim that he told her he committed these brutal crimes.

At trial, the jury was not allowed to hear that this key witness actually told numerous other stories and even failed a pretrial polygraph test. Then the local trial judge prohibited Lambrix from personally testifying, leaving the state’s case essentially unchallenged. Lambrix was convicted and condemned to death by a Glades County jury in March 1984.

As the years went by Lambrix filed numerous appeals, without success. By late 1988 Lambrix came within hours of execution before receiving a stay in Federal Court. But by 1997 the U. S. Supreme Court, in a marginal and deeply divided 5 to 4 vote, upheld Lambrix’s death sentences.

In early 1998 former state witness Deborah Hanzel came forth and under sworn oath admitted her testimony was false. She claimed the key witness Frances Smith (now Ottinger) and a local state attorney’s investigator coerced her to provide the false testimony that corroborated Smith-Ottinger’s testimony.

An investigation into Hanzel’s claims revealed that this key witness was actually having a secret illicit affair “of a sexual nature” with this state attorney’s lead investigator, Robert Daniels while Lambrix was being prosecuted. Investigator Daniels was the very person who formally initiated these capital charges against Lambrix and then personally supervised the development of the circumstantial evidence used to corroborate Smith-Ottinger’s testimony. Additional investigations now show that, that circumstantial evidence was fabricated.

For over 9 years now Lambrix’s collective claims substantiating his actual innocence argument has been pending before the lower state trial court in Ft. Myers, Florida. Although Lambrix has consistently attempted to compel timely review, his efforts have equally consistently been thwarted by the state. In the Petition now filed with the Supreme Court, Lambrix is arguing that just as the Court has strictly enforced procedural rules prohibiting review of appeals deemed “untimely” when favorable to the state, the Court must now enforce equally severe consequences upon the state for failing to provide timely review – Lambrix argues that constitutional law now requires the Court to recognize that the failure to provide timely review of Lambrix’s pled actual innocence claims requires the Court to now impose a procedural default upon the state and summarily vacate Lambrix’s capital convictions and sentences of death.

The full Petition can be read here

This case is featured on: www.southerninjustice.com (See, “Condemning an Innocent Man to Death.”)

For more information, please contact

Southern Injustice
P.O. Box 184
Wickliffe, OH 44092-0184

or send an email to mike@southerninjustice.com