Thursday, June 09, 2005

June 5, 2005

Dear Sis,

I just learned that Rob Lovitt's death warrant has been signed and his execution date is set for July 11th. You may recall that in an earlier letter I told you a little bit about him and his case; he's the guy who is now represented by Kenneth Starr. His main appellate issue was (and remains) the fact that immediately following his trial the clerk, in direct violation of a specific Virginia law, destroyed all of the evidence in his case. I told you then that Rob's death warrant would be signed soon, and now it has been. Unless the U.S. Supreme Court grants his certiorari petition and agrees to review his case, he will be put to death in five weeks. The State's machinery of death here in Virginia is relentless and implacable, and is very rarely deterred. It's almost impossible to win an appeal in this state, or in Federal Court within the Fourth Circuit, no matter how meritorious your legal issues are. This is the most conservative state, legal-wise, and lies within the most conservative Federal appellate court jurisdiction, in the nation. In this state of Virginia the state (i.e., the prosecution and police) is always right...

Last week I saw the move The Aviator, the biopic about Howard Hughes. The quality of the movie-production values, photography, etc., - was excellent, as was the acting and story line. Ever since I was very young I'd always admired Howard Hughes; not because he was rich, but because he was a true pioneer of aviation (you know how much I love anything associated with aviation) and he was such an innovative thinker. Hughes always thought outside the box, and he dared to not only put his money where he mouth was, but to risk his life, literally, to prove his beliefs. Most people remember Hughes as some crazy wild man who was rich as Croesus, a man consumed by his bizarre, idiosyncratic behavior, but he was, in the 1920's, 30's and 40's, a brilliant aeronautical designer and a fearless pilot. He was a man ahead of his time and his peers...Speaking of movies, just last night NBC showed Bambi which, to my knowledge, has never been shown on TV. Well, it must have struck a nostalgic chord in me 'cuz I actually watched it. I don't know if you recall when Dad took you and me to a movie theatre to watch it? I was probably 4 or 5, so I guess it would have been 1958 or '59. I still recall how stunned I was when the hunter shot and killed Bambi's mother. There I was, all happy and grinning as the movie infolded, than, wham! out of nowhere it turns dark and sinister as the unseen but ruthless hunter kills Bambi's mom. It made me cry at the time. Of course, as an adult, I now understand how that resonated with me since our own mother had just died, and I was struggling to come to grips with the fact that I had no mother. Anyway, as I watched it again last night, after not seeing it for 45 years, I was struck by how lush and beautiful the animation was. Those artists were real craftsmen, and even today their work stands the test of time, being equal or superior to, whatever you see today (notwithstanding all of the computer assistance). Of course, back then every single frame, every cell (thousands and thousands of them) were meticulously hand-drawn and painted...I've gotta get back to work on my case, sis. Our motion for rehearing has been filed; they're almost always a waste of time, but it gives me another month of delay, breathing room to refine my certiorari issue(s). I feel much more confident now about the strength of my issues than I did on the day my appeal was denied. Having studied that opinion at length, and having researched and read a ream of relevant U.S. Supreme Court decisions in that area of the law, I now know precisely how to frame my issues and I feel much better about the merits of those claims. Whether the U.S. Supreme Court accepts review is a different matter. They have their own agenda and criteria in picking the cases they want to review. You can have the greatest issue in the world, but if it doesn't fit in with what the Supreme Court is looking for, it won't get heard. The Court only accepts 80-110 cases per year, out of 15,000+ certiorari petitions filed, so you can do the math yourself.

That's it from Virginia. Keep smiling & wear your helmet when you ride!

Love & Peace,