Welcome to Volume 1 Issue 10
Directly from the desk of Clara Thomas Boggs
No one listened to A. B. Butler Jr. for 16 long years. Thanks to DNA, his innocence is now proved. "Butler never really stood a chance. In a situation where a young, white, sympathetic female is accusing a large, hulking, black man of raping her, there is little hope for the defendant. But when it takes place in deep east Texas there is almost no hope." -- Attorney Randy Schaffer, Houston, Texas.
Jack Frederick -- The verdict was Rape, but the evidence says it was consensual sex. Consensual sex or rape? The difference between those words has cost Jack L. Frederick five years of his life. Jack's story tells how a scorned lover turned a simple sex act into a fabricated story, including blood, complete with witnesses who lied under oath to help convict him, yet police saw no blood. With no money, Jack had to take a court appointed attorney -- who helped convict him. Jack will tell you in his own words of his nightmare journey through hell. Compare what Jack says to the victim's version and judge his innocence or guilt for yourself. If this could happen to Jack, could it happen to YOU?
Prison System Rewards False Testimony -- The Troy Hickey Story Three inmates were richly rewarded for the false testimonies that helped sentence Troy Hickey to life in prison!
The Wrong Man -- The Odell Barnes Affair Odell Barnes recently received an execution date for a crime he didn't commit. A botched investigation, planted evidence, impeachable witnesses and an incompetent lawyer helped the prosecutor secure a wrongful conviction. Does the state of Texas not care who it executes for a murder as long as it can convict someone, even the wrong man?
Police records say Wayne and his girlfriend were in Reno, Nevada when Ray and Angie were killed in California. Wayne Henderson's proofs of innocence include being in another state, no evidence of his presence, another's greasy fingerprint on the body, no ballistics match even of the gun he sold months earlier, yet he's logging his 16th year of prison. Wayne recurringly asks, Why? and says, "You tell me."
Bill Heirens Asks For Help So He Won't Die In Prison For Another's Crime. A false confession saved him from death, but Bill Heirens has been buried in prison for over 50 years. There is no evidence of Heirens' guilt, and Richard Thomas has confessed to committing the crime.
Darlie Routier Revisited: Investigative JD Reporter Anne Good advances 20 Reasons to Consider That Routier is Innocent. The more deeply Anne Good delves into Darlie Routier's case, the more it reeks of agenda. Where's the motive or the real evidence?
The Position of Justice: Denied on the Death Penalty Most people understand that Justice: Denied Magazine takes a general stand against the death penalty, but until now we have not clearly told our readers that we are firmly against the death penalty for any reason. Writer William Kreuter was invited to express our unequivocal stance in support of abolishing the death penalty.
What lessons did we learn about the justice system in Seattle? The denial of justice is a process comprising many steps from the time someone becomes a suspect to the time he is imprisoned or, in the worst case, executed. The most newsworthy aspect of the criminal justice process is usually when a case reaches the trial stage. However, at the recent World Trade Conference in Seattle, Washington, the world got a chance to see hundreds of criminal prosecutions begin when police engaged in mass arrests while trying to stop tens of thousands of people from publicly expressing themselves.
Miranda Rights -- Do We Really Know Them? Many view our Miranda Rights as a protection to criminals, but this is simply not so. These Miranda Rights are based on our Constitution, and the interpretation varies from state to state. As our legal system seeks a standard, is this legal system leaning toward the extreme? As a nation, are we letting the scenarios of a few guilty cloud our judgment, possibly at the cost of the masses?
"The Case for Innocence" Justice Denied readers will want to mark their calendars to view this episode of Frontline.
Updates in this issue include:
David Han profiled in October's JD, is granted a new trial.
Bruce Clairmont featured in Issue 8 has a hearing coming up.
Movie Review of Brokedown Palace for Justice Denied Brokedown Palace is a mainstream movie that tells the compelling story of two American teenagers wrongly convicted and imprisoned in Thailand by methods similar to those used to prosecute innocent people in the United States.
Fatal Flaw: A True Story of Malice and Murder in a Small Southern Town Justice: Denied hopes to publish William Thomas (Tommy) Zeigler, Jr.'s full case account in a later issue. For now, we present you with a review of a book about Zeigler by Gail Hollenbeck, one of his strong advocates.
Is Death a Life Value?
It may surprise some people to learn that I once believed the death penalty was an excellent solution to punish those who had killed. If you had told me that I held much in common with those who believed in "ethnic cleansing," I wouldn't have believed you. The formula seemed simple enough. Those who killed were evil. Kill them and kill the evil. Too simple and, for an idea that has swayed a majority of Americans for years, too simple-minded.
My epiphany came in 1993 as I sat across from District Attorney Dave Stanton after my daughter had been wrongly jailed for the crime her baby's father committed. I was there to plead the case for her innocence. He asked a question seemingly out of nowhere. "Mrs. Boggs, do you believe in the death penalty?" Taken off-guard, I said, "Yes, of course." Stanton stared straight into my eyes and said, "Good! We're going to seek the death penalty for your daughter."
People change their minds because of personal experience or when intellectual honesty leads them to a different view than they had. I am always more heartened and impressed when facts and reason persuade people before they must suffer to realize a truth. It's a wise path, but not the common path.
In this issue, JD has unequivocally stated its position on the death penalty. We have made statements about it, but until now have not come out with a flat assertion that we oppose the death penalty in all circumstances.
I will not augment Billy Kreuter's writing, for it needs none. My aim, besides telling you that I once was part of the bloodthirsty majority, is to ask that all keep an open mind. If the reasoning is sound, we should embrace it. Our emotions often lead us astray and the anger rising in us against those who kill can and does blind us to the larger spiritual issues attached to the death penalty.
You see, we either value life or we don't. If we value life, we can't emulate those who devalue it without great risk to ourselves. When I speak of spiritual issues, I'm not referring to religion of any kind, but to that relationship humans have to other humans and to life itself.
I believe that our faith in killing people to make things right is wavering, in spite of the fact that three states, Texas, Virginia, and Florida seem to be in a race to see who can kill the most people. My great hope is that we are at a crossroads and will choose the road of sanity. Before the country takes this road to life and sanity, I know we will murder many more people. I say "we" because our government kills in the name of the people.
There are those who stubbornly point to our declining crime rates to verify that our punishments are working. That's a false argument, for crime rates have dropped in those areas that do not as well as those that do use capital punishment. The real story is that where the death penalty is frequently imposed, there often is more crime and homicide than where it's rarely imposed. In many of the latter, crime rates have actually dropped. Canada's murder rate dropped significantly after abolition was adopted in 1976. There seems to be no truly valid argument to continue killing people. The arguments have all been met with reason, and the pro-death arguments are bankrupt.
The first time I met the abolition movement was when we visited the Bruderhof community at Spring Valley, in Farmington, Pennsylvania. We had been there a few days -- long enough to note the new expectant stir among folks who told us that the Abolition Movin' bus was expected. We gathered in a large room to hear the results of a demonstration in Washington, DC. We heard far more. George White recounted his experience of being wrongly imprisoned for the death of his wife in an attack that almost killed him. Many wept with me as we heard his story of injustice. Bill Pelke told us about his change of heart from hatred to compassion after some girls killed his grandmother. The one sentenced to die was a Black girl. Bill had a revelation that his grandmother didn't want this girl to die, so he prayed for love and compassion. His prayer was answered, and he began to write to Paula Cooper, the youngest person on death row in the country, having committed the crime at age 15. This was the beginning of Bill's opposition to killing killers. We heard Abraham Bonowitz talk about the abolition movement's goals for the future. Director of the Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (CUADP), Abe Bonowitz is one of those who did not come to oppose the death penalty through experience, but through reasoning and understanding. As CUADP's director, Abe has led the campaign for alternatives to death to new heights of strength and potential to change the still prevailing attitude of revenge. CUADP has now started a Florida group to fight the latest attempt to limit appeals and speed up executions. Holding up Freddie Pitts and Bradley Scott as two of the many who have been exonerated, but would have been executed, Bonowitz and other abolitionists are waging their campaign in Florida, one of the deadliest states.
Florida has finally rejected the electric chair for its executions, but what many people don't realize is that death by injection is anything but humane. Gruesome things happen to the body as lethal fluids are pumped into it, but do not look as dramatic and as immediately visible as the spectacles the electric chair provided. The worst danger is that those concerned about the death penalty purely because they don't want the state's killing to seem inhumane will become complacent. If it looks all right, it must be all right. However, there is nothing that can make a wrong into a right, however it looks.
One of my great concerns is the new limitations on appeals imposed by the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. "Hurricane" Carter, whose story we covered in our first issue (Volume 1 Issue 1), was able to prove his innocence because there was no appeal limitation against him. Those who follow are far less fortunate. With the new limits, the next Hurricane Carter, and the many who have been freed by presenting new evidence in the past, will go to their deaths -- their innocence forever a rebuke on the American conscience.
We will not survive intact as a nation if we continue to kill to teach that killing is wrong. All I ask is that you each examine your beliefs about life and death in depth. Each act of violence has an effect on the whole. The origin of the violence is immaterial, for life does not count in terms of sanctioned violence as opposed to illegal violence. It is all the same.
For Life, and for Justice,
Clara Alicia Thomas Boggs
Some contacts for the thoughtful reader: Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (CUADP) http://www.cuadp.org Abraham J. Bonowitz: firstname.lastname@example.org 1-800-973-6548
Deut 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: (KJV)
(Justice: Denied is not affiliated with any faith group or any other kind of organization. Individuals on the staff vary from atheists to Christians, and the quotes we use come from all kinds of sources as well.)
Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change
the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. --Margaret Mead
The Power of One Small Group -- a letter to our readers.
I hope you won't mind a chatty letter, for I'd like to share a few things with you about JD. This may wander a bit, but isn't that the way of a letter?
We all survived the year 2000 fears! I say, let's keep going.
I never stop being amazed at how far JD has come in less than a year. Although people have come and gone -- and some leave and come back -- we are a solid group where it counts, at the core.
Those of us who've worked together the longest (Stormy, Anne, Nancy and I) have never met. I met Billy Kreuter in Seattle in 1997 before JD was a reality. JD was on my mind then, but nowhere near realization. Hans Sherrer made a special trip to meet me just months ago, and if all goes well, Chip and I will meet a few more of the JD Team in the near future when we go to Las Vegas on our way back up the coast.
We are a disparate bunch, creating a tapestry of personalities that somehow blends in a way that works. Our common ground is justice; our goal is to bring you one of the most unique magazines around. The new people who've recently joined us expand our vision and add to it.
It's all uncharted territory. We're a bunch of amateurs becoming professionals out of sheer necessity. As Sheila Eaken leads us into the uncharted seas of publishing thousands of copies of JD, I shake my head and wonder what we're doing trying to play in the "big leagues." I may wonder, but I also know. We have a message and we must spread it. Most of us at JD are so committed to our work that we scheme on ways to spend less time on other things and more with our pursuit of justice.
We still have problems. As I've shared before, mail comes in faster than we can handle it. This has not been resolved yet, so we're kicking around some ideas. One is to get a grant for a small office in a city, since the relative "backwaters" of Coquille, Oregon do not seem to attract any hard-core activists.
Still, we're rank amateurs. We have yet to get it together well enough to publish an
issue on time. This issue, for example, would have ideally come out on the first day of
year 2000. We've had to drop time-sensitive reports of events because of our problems with
deadlines. Those problems are directly due to having more work than we can handle. As I've
said before, that's the sign that we're succeeding, but at the same time a warning to us
that we must grow our ability to cope with success. Thanks to all of you who are patient
with our growing pains. Thanks especially to those who offer to help us with them.
Since many of you reading this are prison inmates, this is as good a time as any to tell you that we're severely backlogged, and letters have gone unanswered. We deplore this situation, but until it's resolved, please be patient. We have new people, but there's no one to handle postal mail yet.
As JD has grown, we've had to make adjustments and even enact new policies. Our deadlines for stories will come earlier and earlier, especially when we go to work on the large run we plan to do. We only have glimpses of the demands the future will make on each of us. Sheila will try to get funding for some staff members so they can devote more time to JD. As of now, this will be based on seniority and commitment. I will most likely not be among them because I'm more desperate to fund a helper than myself.
None of us takes anything for granted whether in funding or public acceptance, but we all know it takes work to carve out the unique niche we've sighted for ourselves. This is a New Year and a time to evaluate how we commit our time and lives.
In this new issue, we've taken a stand against the death penalty. You may or may not agree with us, but we hope that you never lose sight of our area of agreement -- that of freeing innocent people. That's our primary goal, as you know. We need your help to do this. We simply cannot do it alone. We know very well that a movement requires the power of many people acting in concert. You have the Power of One. Just one person can begin to change the world.
This is also as good a time as any to thank the many people who work behind the scenes with us in so many different ways. A couple of investigators pitch in when needed, some paralegals are standing by to help -- one in Texas -- and one lawyer in Massachusetts has offered to take a case pro bono if his expenses are covered. Many people contribute to JD. We are growing strong and more vital every time we publish, but at the same time we need more people to keep up with the growth. Please consider giving to JD in any way you can. Give us funds for operation, or join the search in finding funds; give your time and talent, or help find people with time and talent to give. Let your imagination be your only limitation.
From all of us at JD, we wish you all a better year than last. For you who are in prison, we hope freedom is soon yours.
Clara Alicia Thomas Boggs
and The Great Staff of JD
If you have any updates about any of our cases, contact Justice Denied.
DAVID HAN, profiled in October's JD, is granted a new trial.
By Richard (Rick) Cornell, Attorney at Law
Brief background: David's wife, Claire, has a history of reporting many molests and rapes, the last by her husband. The jury didn't get to see the evidence that she lied about it all -- the doctor saw NO trauma, and the photos revealed none. David Han is no angel. He did punch Claire, but his lawyer, Rick Cornell says there's no evidence of rape. See the full story in the archives. Han had just been denied his petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by Attorney Cornell.
We receive the Update on the David Han case from a jubilant Rick Cornell.
As reported in the October issue of "Justice Denied," David Han lost his petition for writ of habeas corpus on September 3, 1999 in his effort to gain freedom from his conviction for raping his wife. I felt so badly and so strongly about the case that when I saw a fellow lawyer the next day who knew about Han's case and he expressed surprise about the court's ruling, I was immediately energized into "doing something about it."
Two days later, on Sunday, September 5, I went to the law library with a mission. Lo and behold, I found the cases that proved the judge was wrong on the law. I was delighted, and immediately wrote a Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment/Motion to Reconsider, filed it the next week -- and the judge granted it on November 12, 1999. David has been granted a new trial!
The specific ground for relief was this: originally, the judge ruled that the trial lawyer was deficient in putting David on the stand, having David admit that he punched his wife without cause or justification, then not seeking a "lesser-included" instruction that would have given the jury the option of convicting David of domestic battery, a misdemeanor. However, the judge ruled that David was not "prejudiced" by that deficiency. I found the cases that say that when a criminal defendant is entitled to a lesser-included instruction, it is automatically reversible error not to give it. It's similar to when the judge wrongly defines the charged crime in the jury instructions -- error is automatic. It doesn't matter if the guy is guilty or not -- the judge on review cannot "play jury" and say that any jury, given the proper definition of the crime or crimes, only would have agreed with the prosecutor on what crime the defendant really committed. Not even in Nevada.
The moral of this story is that sometimes, as a lawyer, you run across cases where the word "denied" simply is not acceptable. You have to walk the extra mile for the client. The first words of the Motion I wrote captured how I felt about the situation: "It is not right to make Mr. Han sit in prison for two more years or so, waiting for the Nevada Supreme Court to reverse this result, which they most assuredly will do; the court should take it upon itself to reverse it now." Blessedly, the trial judge did exactly that.
The worst moment in a lawyer's life is when an innocent person is found guilty, and that person is sent to prison (or death row). The best moment in a lawyer's life is when s/he walks that extra mile, and the court says, "granted" or the jury says "not guilty."
Post Script: In private correspondence, Rick Cornell tells us he hopes more women will be on the jury for David Han's next trial, reasoning that men may be more easily taken in by false claims of rape, basing his notion on the fact that all the people who prosecuted David were male. This is a 28 year old woman who claims she was molested as a child, date-raped as a teen, gang raped as a young adult, molested on three different jobs by three different supervisors, and raped twice a week for a year by her husband.
Since he's been in prison, David has become a minister through a correspondence course.
Bruce Clairmont, profiled in the September, 1999, issue 8 of Justice Denied, in a story written by his sister, Carol Weissbrod, will have a parole hearing around the end of January. Bruce was wrongfully convicted of molesting 2 of his 5 children in Massachusetts in December, 1994.
Those willing to write letters may contact Carol Weissbrod at CarolW13@aol.com
Postal mail to:
1866 Washington Mt. Rd.
Washington, MA 01223
P.O. Box 7000
Northampton, Ma 01061
The letters are needed by January 18th, 2000.