Wednesday, January 24, 2007

January 22, 2007`

Dear Sis~
Just finished reading The Innocent Man, which is John Grisham's first foray into non-fiction. The book (a best seller) chronicles the sad, but true, story of an Oklahoma man, Ron Williamson, who was tried, convicted and sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit. In the process of telling this story Grisham includes enlightening anecdotes of other cases reagrding wrongful convictions, most of which have in common the same litony of failings of the system: sloppy police work, prosecutorial misconduct (including destruction of favorable evidence and the fabrication of false evidence), lying "jailhouse snitches" falsely claiming that the defendant "confessed" to him in jail, and most commonly, astoundingly incompetent defense attorneys (drunks, idiots, drug addicts, and in Ron Williamson's case, a blind trial attorney. None of this is news to people intimately familiar with the criminal justice system (judges, attorneys and defendants alike) but the general public, being naturally apathetic to these issues anyway, is generally ignorant of the scope and breadth of the problems. Joe Citizen desperately wants to believe in the goodness, fairness and competence of the system and he really doesn't want to know just how bad it is. The average person actually believes the system is how it is portrayed on Law and Order, where cops and prosecutors always play fair and only the bad guys get arrested. This book by Grisham should be mandatory reading in all American schools, in high school civics or government classes across the land...
Speaking about the courts, my last-ditch habeas corpus petition was just filed in the Florida Supreme Court (please excuse me if I'm repeating myself; I may have told you this already); the petition is based upon a relatively recent US Supreme Court decision in a California death penalty case, Brown vs Sanders, which I contend affects Florida's capital sentencing scheme, and undermines my own death sentence in particular. It's a solid, meritful constitutional claim, but that doesn't mean I'll obtain any relief. This is pretty much my last legal hurrah, unless something new develops in the interim, so sometime within the next year I'll begin living under the shadow of a possibly imminent death warant. I don't dwell on that, as you know. Death is a reality for all of us; it's just a matter of timing and I choose to focus on utilizing whatever time I have left in the most positive & meaningful manner possible. You'd be surpised what can be accomplished, especially on a metaphysical level, in solitary confinement. It's all about growing and evolving as a human being, as a soul, right? Really, in the final analysis, what else is there?
Time to go, Sis. Remember I love you!
Love & Peace,