We must end racism to obtain justice in our courts

February 28, 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

Good afternoon:

Never forget that the battle for justice started long before the pyramids were built and it will continue as long as we humans continue to exist.

To get a sense of how far we have come and how much we have accomplished, let’s take a brief review of how the law has changed since our Founding Fathers declared their independence from England, fought and won our independence and wrote our constitution.

The Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights are extraordinary documents that we should treasure, respect and protect.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Purchased in sweat and blood over many centuries and honed during the enlightenment, this sentence is a startling, radical and revolutionary rejection (1) of the divine right of kings to govern without the consent of the governed and (2) the rich aristocracy that owned most of the wealth and real estate not owned by the king. With the exception of the Church of England and a merchant class that grew wealthy and powerful during the industrial revolution, no one else had any civil rights, wealth or political power. No justice existed for them and with few exceptions, none of them expected any justice.

The merchant class, by the way, created the Liberal Party in England to advocate for their economic and political agenda, which was freedom to trade with whomever they pleased without oversight by officials of the Crown. Using The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith as their bible, they claimed that the invisible hand of greed was the only appropriate form of regulation. In making that argument, they conveniently ignoring that Adam Smith had cautioned that some government regulation would be necessary to control runaway greed.

Smith was right because one of the atrocious activities that some members of the merchant class engaged in was shipping boatloads of African slaves to the southern states where they were sold at auction to wealthy plantation owners who used them to till the soil, harvest their crops, clean and maintain their homes and also wash their clothes. Some of them also abused the pretty females and handsome males sexually whenever they wanted.

Slaves were slaves for life and the owner had the right to discipline them in any manner, including the right to torture and kill them without having to explain why they did it or face any consequence.

The merchant class proved many times over from the late 18th century until President Franklin Roosevelt finally called an end to their reign of terror. that greed and unregulated capitalism are incredibly destructive.

The neoliberals of today are the wealthiest 1% of our population. They seek to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else by turning back the clock to the 19th century and they are pitching their thoroughly discredited ideas in an attempt to convince we the people whom they plan to exploit that it is in our best interests to support their agenda and vote for their candidates because our fortunes will improve as the additional money and wealth they accumulate at our expense will eventually trickle back down to us.

In other words, a rising tide raises all ships.

The Founding Fathers taught us how to respond,

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The term “all men” necessarily includes the 1% and they have no right to exploit us for their fun and profit.

The criminal justice system will work only as well as the people who participate in it.

Justice is an idea, not a commodity for sale to the highest bidder. Justice cannot happen in the presence of racism, special interests and corruption. Without honesty, and diligent effort in good faith by all participants, justice cannot happen. The criminal justice system cannot produce just results when jurors, lawyers, judges, police, forensic experts and witnesses with hidden agendas attempt to rig the outcome.

We have witnessed the tragic results of racist thinking by white people who believe that all black male teenagers are dangerous.

We have seen them deny that they are racist.

Yet we know that the same white people who believed that Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis were dangerous would not believe that two white boys the same age were dangerous.

Events have a way of focusing our attention on problems that need fixing. Viewed with detachment from afar, which is what we must do to get an objective diagnosis of what ails our criminal justice system, it should be clear to everyone with eyes to see that we are not living in a post-racial society.

We absolutely must tackle this problem head on and so discredit racism that people come to regard it as an evil delusion that is not supported by any evidence.

Rather than feel dispirited and depressed, we should realize that we are being called by these events to do all that we can to correct a terrible wrong.

Yes, we live in trying times with injustice and death all around us. We would like to walk away, but those who have been called know in their hearts and minds that they cannot walk away and pretend that reality does not exist.

We have limited time and unfinished business to resolve.
Fortunately, we have each other to rely on.

We are many and they are few.

events are propelling us to take action

Racism needs to end and until it does no one should expect the criminal justice system to produce just results.


Let’s play the who-said-this game

October 27, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Good morning:

Time to play the who-said-this game.

A game the whole family can play

Just read the quote and guess who said it.

First clue: The man is white and in jail.

The jail is full of blacks and they all act like thugs. This may sound a bit radical but if more people would arm themselves and kill these (expletive) idiots, when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior.

Second clue: The man denies being a racist.

I’m really not prejudiced against race, but I have no use for certain cultures. This gangster-rap, ghetto talking thug ‘culture’ that certain segments of society flock to is intolerable. They espouse violence and disrespect towards women. The black community here in [deleted] is in an uproar against me — the three other thugs that were in the car are telling stories to cover up their true ‘colors.’

Third clue: This man is really amazed and irked to discover that the media does not call him a hero.

I am amazed at what is going on with the way the media has been covering this case. Their have been several other shootings here in [deleted], yet they are all either black-on-black or black-on-white, and none of them have garnered any attention from the media. I guess it’s news when someone dares to not to be a victim, but they are twisting it around sand saying I was the ‘bad guy.’

Fourth clue: This man wants a change of venue because the media has not called him a hero.

You are correct, if you chose Michael Dunn. He is charged with first degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Jordan Davis to death in the parking lot of a convenience store in Jacksonville, Florida. Dunn emptied the clip of his 9 millimeter semiautomatic handgun while squeezing off shots at point blank range into an SUV parked next to him because Jordan Davis disrespected his authority as an older white guy by refusing to turn down the music and calling him names. Davis and his three friends were unarmed.

Michael Dunn is stupid because he shot and killed a kid for playing loud music that he did not like and disobeying his order to turn it down. He is also stupid because he does not realize he is a racist and he mailed these statements from jail to relatives and friends not realizing that jailers read mail. Predictably, the statements were published. Now, he wants a change of venue to a place with like-minded people who will give him the keys to the city and throw him a ticker tape parade down main street instead of throwing him in jail.

Someplace like Sanford, Florida in Seminole County.

The best thing Dunn’s lawyer could do right now is to threaten to kill him with his bare hands if he doesn’t shut up.

Quotes obtained from Atlanta Black Star

This is our 735th post


We shall overcome

October 12, 2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Good evening:

Crane and I were gone most of the day. Since we returned, we have been reading and talking about the awakening and renewed commitment to seek justice inspired by the shocking injustice in Kendrick Johnson’s case that so many of you have so clearly expressed.

We feel the same way and we intend to use this blog to not only seek justice for Trayvon, but to seek it for Jordan Davis, Kendrick Johnson, their grieving families and everyone else who has been denied their inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in a just and color blind society. Justice for Trayvon is the name and symbol of our quest.

In a comment this afternoon, Mary Davis said,

I know what happened in Trayvon’s case knocked the sails out of us, but we can’t stop now.

She is right and her comment got me thinking.

This is my answer.

The result in Trayvon’s case disappointed me, but it did not knock the sails out of me.

I have learned how to be patient doing death penalty work. In the Darrold Stenson case, for example, where material exculpatory evidence was withheld by the prosecution from me (I was defense counsel) resulting in a guilty verdict and a death sentence, the Washington State Supreme Court finally agreed with our argument and reversed the conviction and death sentence in the spring of 2012. The sentence was imposed in 1994, so justice took 18 years.

I am convinced that something far bigger than ourselves is dictating the direction and pace of events. Racism, corruption and injustice are rampant. Innocent people are being murdered and the perpetrators are not being held accountable.

Necessary change must happen but it cannot happen all at once.

Justice for Trayvon must necessarily be sought outside the legal system because the Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits a retrial and the prosecution is not going to appeal a case that it did not intend to win and cannot retry.

Justice for Trayvon will be found in the court of public opinion. I think this week’s episode of South Park capitalized on widespread interest in the case and the pervasive belief that George Zimmerman got away with murder. He did much to hang himself after the acquittal by swaggering around like the cowardly bully that he is. Result: he was portrayed as the government’s go-to weapon when it wants to silence a black troublemaker because he’s an expert at murdering black kids and getting away with it. However, he killed a white kid disguised in black face, so he was summarily executed in the electric chair.

Rather than offend our national sense of justice, which would have been the case if a majority of Americans believed he was a hero for defending himself against a crazed black thug who attempted to kill him, most people understood that the result of his trial would have been different if Trayvon were a white kid and they laughed at his execution on South Park.

I don’t believe anyone needed to have that explained to them.

I believe the only people who were offended by the show are the white right wing racists that make up the right wing hate machine.

I don’t know how the writers managed to pull that off in a nation of people shocked, dismayed, and still grieving about the injustice of the verdict, but they did.

And they mocked George Zimmerman and got us to laugh at him.

Nothing will bring back Trayvon Martin. I think a nation shocked by Trayvon’s death, the injustice of the verdict, and thoroughly disgusted with George Zimmerman is actually a better result than a conviction and life sentence.

George Zimmerman’s life will be a living hell, which is his just reward

Now we are witnessing a call for help to right a wrong in Valdosta, Georgia. Word is spreading like wildfire through the power of instant communication via the internet to reopen the investigation into Kendrick Johnson’s suspicious death. Experts in death investigation and forensics are stepping forward and speaking out. They are identifying the problems with the investigation and calling his death a homicide.

The cover-up is falling apart exposing yet another corrupt and incompetent local police department (the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office) and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which conducted the autopsy and reached the utterly ridiculous and indefensible conclusion that his death was accidental due to positional asphyxiation.

Unfortunately, during the long course of human history, most people have been far too willing to accept corruption and injustice as just the way it is, even when they, or someone they know, have been victimized. They felt too isolated and powerless to fight back. For example, more than 80 innocent defendants pled guilty to felonies they did not commit during the late 1990s and agreed to serve lengthy prison sentences without complaint. Every one of them was framed by corrupt members of the out-of-control Ramparts Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. At least one of them sustained multiple gunshot wounds for allegedly resisting arrest even though he submitted to arrest.

The horrible story unravelled when one of the rogue police officers was arrested for possessing cocaine in his locker. He snitched on his fellow officers in exchange for favorable treatment. Eventually the truth was revealed and all of the wrongful convictions were set aside.

Even though they were represented by counsel, not one of the more than 80 innocent defendants believed he had a realistic chance to be acquitted and not one of them was even willing to go to trial.

Tragically, corruption and injustice tend to thrive and be tolerated until some terrible tragedy occurs that so offends people that they finally say enough is enough.

George Zimmerman’s cold blooded execution of an innocent and unarmed Trayvon Martin screaming for help and his mother and begging for his life was such a tragedy. People all over the world were shocked and horrified. It brought us together here and it brought many others together at other sites. All of us watched the trial and we ultimately saw through the pretense of a serious prosecution. We have been changed forever by that experience.

Nine months after Zimmerman murdered Trayvon, we were horrified again when Michael Dunn murdered Jordan Davis at a gas station because Jordan refused to turn down the music he was listening to and did not show Dunn enough respect. Ironically, Dunn will be prosecuted by Angela Corey, the State Attorney who oversaw the failed prosecution of George Zimmerman and expressed satisfaction with the result.

We will be watching that trial and calling her out every time she fails to do something she should have done or does something she should not have done. I and others like me who are experienced trial lawyers will be watching every move she makes. She has a lot to prove and everything to lose. She will not get away with another lackluster effort to create the appearance of justice. We will call her out, if she allows another racist right wing nutcase like B-37 to get on the jury. We’ve seen the movie and we are familiar with the script. Never again.

And now we have Kendrick Johnson’s shocking case to grab our attention and galvanize us back into action.

Nothing will ever change unless we take action and make things change. Unfortunately, humans have to be shocked out of their generally passive and accepting everyday lives before they will come together, focus on solving a problem, and take action to git ‘r done. These three horrific cases are waking us up to what we must do to reclaim our inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in a just and color blind society. We cannot ignore these tragedies. We cannot shrug our shoulders and turn our backs on Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Kendrick Johnson and their grieving families because those three beautiful, young, and innocent children could just have easily been our children or even ourselves.

Justice for Trayvon is justice for everyone and we now have three crystal clear examples that racism is alive and well in this country and our criminal justice system is aiding and abetting it rather than producing just results.

I could no more ignore the message conveyed by these three tragedies than stop breathing.

By working together using the power of the internet to communicate, we can and we will make the mountains tremble.


Introducing Judge Russell L. Healey

July 31, 2013

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Good afternoon to all of our friends:

Duvall County Judge Russell L. Healey is the third judge to handle the Michael Dunn case.

Scott Butler of the Florida Times-Union has the story:

A second judge has removed herself from the high-profile Jacksonville murder trial of Michael David Dunn, charged with killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis in a dispute over loud music.

Circuit Judge Mallory Cooper had been appointed in May following the defense team’s request for Judge Suzanne Bass to step down due to concerns for a fair trial.

Bass denied him bail, refused a motion to have the state declare him indigent and pushed to have the trial in September even though his attorneys said it was unrealistic. Defense attorney Cory Strolla also said Bass failed to control her courtroom, including warning the victim’s father about his outburst, the Times-Union previously reported.
Cooper was replaced by Circuit Judge Russell Healey, court records show.

I previously wrote about the first and only hearing so far before Judge Healey. He denied Dunn’s motions seeking reconsideration of Judge Bass’s denial of bail, denial of indigency status, and denial of a motion to continue the trial date.

DISCLOSURE: Although Judge Healey and I were members of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers when I was a member of the Board of Directors, I do not recall his name. It is possible that I may have met him during our midwinter meeting in Jacksonville in the late 90s, or at one or more of our other meetings, but I do not recall doing so. Therefore, I have no opinion about him.

The odd thing about Judge Healey’s appointment is that he is not a Circuit Court Judge. He is a Duvall County judge and I do not believe county judges can preside over felony trials without some sort of special appointment and or the consent of both parties to the case.

There does not appear to be a shortage of judges serving on the Fourth Judicial Circuit, which has 29 judges, with 9 assigned to handle criminal cases full time.

Could the Dunn case be the case that no circuit court judge wants to handle because of its high profile and possible voter backlash from the verdict?

Why Judge Healey?

Does not appear that he has any experience presiding over any felony trial, let alone a high profile felony trial.

Did he volunteer for this duty?

Who in their right mind would volunteer for a baptism by fire?

This oddity does not inspire confidence that the outcome of this trial will not be rigged.

Zoom has the skinny on Judge Healey.

Russell L. Healey was a law partner for 14 years in Mahon, Mahon & Healey, P.A. where he practiced criminal law specializing in marital and family law.

He was a board certified Marital and Family Law attorney and a former member of the Jacksonville Planning Commission.

Before joining Mahon & Mahon, he worked in private practice with Tassone and Healey after serving as an assistant state attorney and state attorney for the 4th Judicial Circuit of Florida in Jacksonville.

He has a bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of South Florida, a JD degree from the University of Florida and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1981.

Before becoming a Duvall County judge in 2002, he was a member of the American Bar and Florida Bar Associations, the National and Florida Associations of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Association of Trial Lawyers.

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Justice for Trayvon shall become Justice for Everyone

July 24, 2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Good afternoon my friends:

I believe we need to begin considering other cases. I am not suggesting that we should abandon seeking justice for Trayvon. I am recommending that we take what we have learned from Trayvon’s case, the trial, and the dreadful verdict and apply it to other cases.

Let justice for Trayvon become justice for everyone.

I recommend we focus our attention on the Jordan Davis murder because it’s another Florida self-defense case similar to the Trayvon Martin murder and Angela Corey’s office will be prosecuting the defendant, Michael Dunn. I believe Angela Corey will be the lead prosecutor and she will be assisted by John Guy. We are familiar with him because he was a member of the prosecution team that lost the Zimmerman trial.

The case is scheduled for trial on September 23, 2013.

Michael Dunn, who is 46-years-old, is charged with one count of first degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. The incident occurred at a gas station in Jacksonville last November. According to police, he shot into a Dodge Durango occupied by four black teenagers after arguing with them about their loud music. Despite firing many shots, Davis was the only one hit. Dunn told police that he feared for his life because he saw one of the boys pointing a shotgun. Police did not find a firearm in the vehicle and none of the boys were armed. Dunn, who has been denied bail, is represented by Corey Strolla.

The case is assigned to Judge Russell Healey. Strolla and Dunn were in court last Tuesday, July 16. Larry Hannan of Jacksonville.com describes what happened:

Tuesday’s hearing was the first since Judge Russell Healey replaced judges Suzanne Bass and Mallory Cooper, who each excused themselves from the case.

Strolla sought Bass’ removal after accusing her of misconduct and bias against his client. Cooper is now handling another high-profile case, Donald James Smith for 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle’s sexual assault and death.
Bass denied Dunn bail, refused a motion to have the state declare him indigent and pushed to have the trial in September even though his attorneys said it was unrealistic.

With a new judge, Strolla sought to revisit bail and Dunn’s indigent status. But Healey denied both requests.

If Dunn had been declared indigent, the state would have been required to pay for investigations Strolla wanted to conduct into the crime.

Bass and Healey both denied the motion because Strolla is being paid $7,500 a month to represent Dunn. Strolla said Dunn’s parents are paying him, and not Dunn himself, but both judges said that didn’t matter.

Strolla also reiterated his previous statement that he would not be ready for trial in September and told Healey the earliest he could be prepared is February. Healey told Strolla he wanted to try the case this year, but for now the trial date remains set for Sept. 23.

Go to the following link to review the discovery (H/T to fauxmccoy for providing the link):

http://www.news4jax.com/blob/view/-/19561384/data/3/-/mlr4iiz/-/Michael-Dunn-discovery-materials.pdf

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