Friday, June 23, 2006

An update on my case and a thank you to all of you outside there

Thought I would check in and update you on life and case. I hope this finds all of you enjoying life !

To begin - the state court judge turned down my request for relief on the 3.850 hearing as expected. Again his decision was an error filled joke. Not even a pretence at fairness. Almost as if the prosecutor wrote the decision.

As I told you before, state judges at that level are elected to office. Though they pretend its based on law. Their decisions are based on votes !

But he did me a favor with his error filled decision. Plus two slurs at the Florida Supreme Court in one page mandate he sent back for directions, saying he did not understand it, nor what was supposed to be done.

Actually the mandate was simplicity ! I understood it, and I am only of average intelligence *smile*

The order simply said, the judge was to hold a hearing on all innocence issuses from the 1977 trial, plus all the new evidence of innocence, and whatever else I chose to add to substantiate these issuses. The hearing was be held within 180 days and rule on the merits of each issue and return the case to the Florida Supreme Court. Simple isn't it ?

But I have found that, when an order is sent back down to a lower court that goes against the state and judge. They either get temporary amnesia or become deaf and dumb…over night. It is a mysterious ailment that only clears up after they render one unconscious with their decision. And the case is then passed back to the Florida Supreme Court to sort out, hopefully recognize that ailment and make an appropriate decision. This ailment is only beneficial in that it helps the state judge and prosecutor not to give any good decisions, thereby not angering voters or the good old boy network. Ok ! Enough sarcasm ! *smile* But you have to look at these decisions with a sense of humor.

The decision began with the judge saying, he believed what the three witnesses I called said and thereby denied my issue of ineffective assistance of counsel from 1977.
Sounds simple ! Except I did not call these witnesses, the state called them to testify against me. Anyway, you get the idea with what I’ve already told you. So I will not belabor the point.

So now I will soon file the brief with Florida Supreme Court, where I believe my conviction will finally be overturned. I should get a decision sometime early next year. So, no real surprises and I am ok. I can not be disappointed when what I believed would occur did.
And to be honest, I will be ok. Regardless. I made up my mind long ago – to make the best of whatever comes ! Not to allow – bad decisions by a messed up system nor this prison change or rearrange me. Not my mood nor who I am !

I came back to death row just before Christmas. Settled back in on a good floor. On the good side, early this year, another man walked out the front gate – free, the court saying there was never sufficient evidence to convict him. Another may go free any day.

Also two new rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court were just handed down, both a blow to the death penalty. “Hill vs. McDonough” saying death row inmates could pursue challenges against the method of executions. Here in Florida that means the drugs used in lethal injection. It has been proven that the drugs used cause pain and have been forbidden to use to put animals to sleep. In California also doctors refused to participate in taking a life. It goes against the oath they take to save lives, which should be applauded. Anyway, the issue can now be raised.

In “House vs. Bell” more doors are opened for us to raise innocence issues in Federal court. I’m sure it will be filter down to lower courts as well.

In a separate situation the Florida Supreme Court sent an advisory report to the Florida legislature, to change part of the capital punishment law, to bring Florida courts in line with recent rulings. That would make it so it would take an unanimous decision – jury vote of 12-0 to give a death sentence and it mandate that the judge follows the jury vote ! So only a jury decides if a person gets the death sentence. A couple of legislators tried to introduce such a bill, but not enough lawmakers backed the motion – bill. So, they snubbed the Florida Supreme Court's advice. This advisory letter was authored by Jeb Bush, Governor and Judge Cantero.
After these 2 latest decisions Jeb Bush was interviewed. He said pretty much - that the death penalty was irrelevant. Men on death row lived out life sentences there. If he realizes the irrelevancy of the death penalty why doesn’t he just end it and the frustrations of it all ?

What he says is true. Guys do live out life sentences on death row, their whole life. One died recently, age and disease. He had been here over 20 years. It made me look around and notice that many of the men I’ve know a long time had grown old. And I just turned 50. Strange, I remember being young when I came here. I was referred to as the young buck, at age 20 now I’m one of the old guys. How the hell did that happen ? *smile* But seriously, I know only too well, time stands still for no one.

However the death penalty is under siege. By the court system and by the groups outside – who have and are educating people all over the world. They have opened eyes which were closed till you guys showed then a flawed system. The way courts rule has a lot to do with the view the public has on issues !

Though victories are being won – one by one, there’s still much to do ! Because, there are still those, who refuse change. They cling to outdated ideas and use them to boost their political careers. A time will come when the death penalty is history. It's archaic and draconian and belongs in the dark ages !

You know when I began to write this Average Joe piece – without a name – it was so all could focus on the issue not one person, to maybe shed some light on life on death row. I wanted to share some thoughts and ideas and an appreciation for those of you outside who fight the good fight. It is the first time I’ve attempted to write in such a way, so I had no idea exactly what to write.

I have asked myself if I’m qualified to do it. The answer is probably not ! *smile* But, sometimes there is a need, and a job falls into the hands of someone who is not really qualified to do it, an Average Joe – who does not have any experience, does not know where to begin, not the most intelligent who deals with a subject that’s so huge.

It seemed impossible that I might be able to make a difference at all, but I think, that maybe that’s the way most of us feel at first. So, I decided I would just do the best I could, do my little part. If enough of us Average Joes and James or whatever name you choose does just their little parts it will make a difference.

There are many little parts we play that add up and finds us all working together. It's not such an impossible job nor a high hill to climb. You do not need to be the most able, most intelligent. You just take the job that falls in to your hands and do the best you can. You know what ? That is how most things get done.

And on an average day – anything is possible ! *smile* Just some thoughts to share. And if anyone has any questions for me feel free to write and ask. If I can answer them I will. If I can not – I will say so and why I can not.

I can tell you this – I write because you guys inspire me. The work you do, because you do not have to do it, you choose to do it. There’s a difference there I recognize it !

Stay strong and make life what you choose it to be

Average Joe