Monday, June 23, 2014

Sometimes God really pisses me off



I have once read somewhere, a while back, that the greatest proof that there is no God is the fact that this plague we call humanity continues to infest this otherwise perfect planet. When you think about it, that actually makes sense. Although I live in a cage and have been condemned to death and kept in solitary confinement now for over 30 years. (Please check out: www.southerninjustice.net ) I do regularly watch the TV news and read the newspaper and all I see is misery and suffering around me and pretty much everywhere out there too.

I have long subscribed to that philosophical cliché that if there wasn’t a God, men would have to create one. When it comes down to it, we need “God”, and just as much as at times its that need to believe in something greater than ourselves if there’s to be any hope of finding anything redeemable in ourselves, so too do we need to sometimes take a good look around us and really get pissed at God as where is He when we need him the most?

Maybe those out there in the real world don’t struggle with this sense of complete abandonment as much as those who share my world. But I doubt it, as it seems that all those that I care most about are also suffering and it just makes no sense as those out there who are nothing less than the manifestation of pure evil are rewarded with all the things we generally equate to as living the good life. So, if there is a loving and just God who is supposed to be the greatest power in the universe, then why does he just sits back and does nothing while the good suffer and evil is so often rewarded? It makes no sense!

I’m not exactly ignorant of the only too common theological explanations for why God doesn’t do anything, and I can hold my ground with the never ending debate on “free will” ((that because God endowed us with “free will” we are responsible for the way our lives turn out because of the choices we made) and how God “loves” us so much that he gave his own son Jesus as a sacrifice for our own sins…blah blah blah

But let’s be honest for a moment…just where is this “love” they only too often speak of? I certainly haven’t felt a lot of love and I don’t know many who can say they have, either. It seems to me the only ones who want to speak of God’s love are those whose lives are already “blessed” and they only too often speak with a forked tongue as while proclaiming themselves to be “Christians” they are the very same ones who so quickly want to throw stones while gnashing their teeth and screaming for the executioner to pull the switch – all in the name of God and that antiquated Biblical law of extracting an “eye for an eye”

If today’s so-called Christians truly are created in the image of God, then that’s hardly inspiring. And you can bet your bottom dollar that there are more than a few self-proclaimed Christians reading this while already wanting to smite me in the name of their God.

Which brings me to this whole concept of “forgiveness” which is one of the most basic tenets of the Christian faith and the New Testament is pretty clear on this point – unless we forgive others of their sins, we will not be forgiven our own sins. There’s nothing ambiguous about that, but as a whole, how many so-called Christians really have the capacity to truly forgive others, much less reach out to their “enemies”…very few, I’d say!

In fact when you really think about it, God is a pretty tricky sort of guy as before establishing this new covenant through the sacrifice of the promised messiah to atone for our sins, finding salvation was pretty easy – no matter what you might have done it came down to a question of how many animals you had to kill to be forgiven and once this dastardly deed was done you were free to go on and do what you pleased again.

Blood sacrifice was pretty easy unless you were the sheep being led to slaughter, as then it kind of sucked. But I’m thinking that God might just have tricked al of us as God, in his infinite wisdom, knew that it was contrary to inherent nature of all men to forgive. When it comes down to it, we are a vengeful species and there’s something within each of us that thrives off on this need for vengeance. So, although deceptively simple – simply forgive – God now demands of all those who call themselves Christians the one thing most Christians will never have the capacity to give…forgiveness, much less “unconditional love”.

Although all of us struggle to define our own sense of spirituality, especially in recent months I have struggled as while circumstances in my own life took a turn for the worst, and yet again, just when I needed God the most instead not only did I feel completely abandoned by God, but those who proclaim His name gathered to throw these stones and now I find myself again thinking about this whole God  thing and while and while I can not deny the existence of God, I must admit that sometimes God really pisses me off. And if God today can be defined by love and forgiveness then I get to wonder where God goes just when you need him the most.

Michael Lambrix #48205
Florida State Prison

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sardines and Beans - A Religious Diet

By the end of that first week bread and water started to look pretty good. Sure, we've all heard the jokes about how bad things can get and when it got really bad then the most you could hope for would be bread and water. But not even that seemed so bad after all, not when compared to what they came up with this time.

I guess I really should back up and begin where it all really began. After many years of refusing to comply with long established federal law that requires state prisons to provide prisoners a diet that conforms with their religious beliefs, the US Department of Justice filed a formal lawsuit against the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC). That is what it took to force the FDOC to finally provide a "religious" diet program to those who held beliefs that required eating only "clean" food. This generally included those of the Jewish faith, as well as a significant number of Muslims and even Christians who could articulate reasons why they would want to participate in a religious diet program.

Under Federal Court order, the FDOC implemented this "RDP" at Union Correctional Institution in July 2013 as a "pilot program". They didn't expect many prisoners to sign up for the RDP but considering that the regular meals served are anything but edible, it came as no surprise that a significant number of prisoners did request to participate in this new RDP and by doing so receive food that could actually be consumed. All of a sudden it seemed everyone got religious!

At first the religious diet began with a breakfast of real boiled eggs (it had been years since the FDOC fed us real eggs) with a small bowl of cornflakes, powdered soy milk and a piece of fruit. At lunch we would receive a pre-packed meal consisting of a main entry such as Salisbury steak, or chicken patty, with a generous portion of real potatoes and vegetables and another piece of fresh fruit, and a packet of powdered drink mix (like "Kool-aid") Then the evening meal would be a similar pre-packaged meal (at least once a week spaghetti and meatballs with fresh green peas and a fillet of real fish with rice and tomatoes) and it was good! Compared to what the prison served on the regular meals it was like eating in a 5 star restaurant!

But these pre-packaged meals cost the FDOC a lot of money. Depending on the source, generally the FDOC budget allocates about 2 dollars a day for each prisoner, which explains why regular meals are mostly some some form of unidentifiable meat substitute with whatever they can pass off as vegetables. But the religious diets were costing the FDOC at least 3-4 times as much and quickly taking a big chunk out of the allocated food budget.

It didn't take too long before the brainiacs at the front office began plotting ways to come up with a much cheaper "religious" diet and just that quickly the morning eggs were gone, replaced by a small portion of peanut butter - suddenly for breakfast every morning we were served peanut butter! And the lunch meal was switched from the pre-packaged meals to a small packet of sardines and six crackers for four of the days each week, and a small packet of tuna fish with potato chips on Saturdays. But it was still a lot better than what they fed us on the regular diet and most of those who signed up for the religious diet stayed on it.

But by federal court order the FDOC had to start providing this "religious" diet at other institutions within a matter of months and given the unexpectedly high percentage of prisoners who signed up for the Religious Diet Program (RDP) at Union Correctional Institution, the FDOC knew they had a problem. Under Federal court order, any prisoner who requested to participate in the RDP had to be provided the religious diet, and once rolled out to the other prisoners across the state, this would undoubtedly cost the FDOC millions of dollars each month in additional food expense.

Once again the brainiacs in the front office went to work to figure out other ways to significantly reduce the number of prisoners requesting the RDP, and it didn't take long before the menu was completely changed.

Beginning on March 24, 2014 all the ready to eat pre-packaged meals were gone, replaced by either small packets of sardines (4 sardines) and 6 crackers, or a cup (8 ounces) of cold canned beans accompanied by a small portion of raw cabbage, or carrots - or occasionally, tomatoes.

Under this revised menu, not a single hot meal would be provided. For breakfast we would receive a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as the main entree, and for both lunch and dinner it would be either a small packet of sardines or a cup of cold and generally tasteless beans. And only one piece of fruit would be provided each day - most often nothing else than a half rotten orange.

Many of us immediately filed formal grievances, which generally went unanswered. Clearly this newly revised diet was not adequate as it didn't conform to basic nutritional needs, or long established state and federal rules that required "at least" two hot meals each day. Few of us were surprised when a few weeks after many of us filed grievances, the FDOC  issued a proposed rule to eliminate the requirement of 2 hot meals a day. Of course, eliminating the prison rule itself would not miraculously relieve the FDOC of it's constitutional obligation to provide an adequate diet. But it would buy the FDOC time to effectively coerce a large number of prisoners to "voluntarily" request removal of the religious diet program, and that's what it was really all about. When it comes down to it, it's a pissing contest between the Federal court and the FDOC - The Federal court ordered the FDOC to provide a religious diet and so now the FDOC will provide a diet that although technically available, prisoners will quickly tire of and "voluntarily" refuse.

Still, that wasn't even enough and the FDOC had to come up with other ways to coerce prisoners to want to go back to the regular diet. They found their means by diabolically and with obvious extreme malice manipulating the 8-day Jewish Passover into nothing less than a religious persecution. Under the pretense of "observing the Jewish Passover" beginning on Monday April 14th, 2014 all prisoners who requested participation in this religious diet received nothing but that small packet of sardines (4 sardines) and two matzo crackers at each meal - breakfast, lunch and dinner. This continued for not only 8 days of the Passover, but actually a full 9 days! Clearly under no reasonable interpretation would this amount to an adequate diet - but then again, it wasn't meant to.

However, not even this contemptible misconduct by top prison officials compelled very many to "voluntarily" refuse further participation in the religious diet program, and as of March 28, 2014 we are all now back on the peanut butter/jelly sandwich for breakfast every day and either sardines or cold canned beans for lunch and dinner.

Most of us are resolved to now stay on this diet, as we know the people within the FDOC that are responsible for playing these games will only now force the Federal court to intervene and it's only a matter of time before the Federal court will find the FDOC in contempt of court deliberately depriving thousands of prisoners of an adequate diet and then we will once again receive meals comparable to what was first provided.

And in the long run, these petty games they play will only cost the FDOC substantially more.
But I must admit that after a full week of being fed nothing but a small packet of 4 sardines and two matzo crackers for every meal, it got to the point where I was thinking about how good bread and water would be...and like the rest of us, I can only hope that the Federal court overseeing this religious diet program will soon order the FDOC to provide an adequate diet that actually does provide the required two hot meals a day.



Michael Lambrix #482053
Florida State Prison


Monday, January 13, 2014

Has it really been that long?



As I sit here writing this, today marks the day exactly 25 years ago when the state of Florida did all they could to kill me. It was on this day that I awoke in that solitary cell only a few steps away from that cold gray solid steel door that led into the execution chamber where Florida’s infamous electric chair awaited. Has it really been that long ago? It doesn’t seem that so many years have already passed. As I’ve always heard it, time passes quickly when you’re having fun, but I damned sure haven’t had a lot of fun over these many years.

When I look around me, not much has really changed. I still awake each day in a solitary cell not all that different from the one in which I waited to die, and I’m still awaiting the uncertainty of my faith, knowing only too well that on any day now the governor could get a wild hair up his spineless ass and sign a new death warrant on me and so many others, especially since our names are on the recently submitted “death warrant eligible” list.

But perhaps the one thing that has changed is that I don’t really care whether they do or not. Somewhere along this never ending journey that I’ve been on, any “fear” of them coming to kill me has long ago faded away. As the years passed, I’ve even awoken more than too many days all but praying to whatever God it was that long ago abandoned me and the countless other lost souls warehoused around me, and “prayed” that the nightmare would end, even if that meant ending it by my death.

You have to love that paradox – them that so zealously imposed death upon me, all but foaming at their mouths like rabid dogs, truly believed that I was supposed to be somehow afraid to die, maybe even drop down to my knees and beg for mercy knowing all too well that them, consumed by vengeance  are incapable of mercy. But in all thee years, not even once have I ever begged, and f they came to take me away tomorrow, I know I still wouldn’t beg and that the joke would be on them as I have long ago came to accept that if I cannot win my physical freedom through the politically corrupted courts (see www.southerninjustice.net ), then spiritual freedom from this hell that only man could create through physical death, would still be freedom.

Today I take a few minutes to look back on that long day and endless night when at 28 years old, I confronted my fate (you can read about my brush with death in my essays “The Day God Died” and also "Facing my own Execution" ) and thought was lucky to survive, only to learn that there truly are fates far worse than physical death – and that the quarter of a century that would follow that date with death would teach me only too well that had I known what I know today – that I would slowly rot away one day at a time and grow old and gray in a cold crypt of steel and stone, separated from and inevitably abandoned by all who once cared for me, I know without any doubt or a momentarily reservation that I would had made those cold blooded bastards kill me that day and spared myself the next 25 years.

But then again, even if I say those words, there’s that bigger part of me that, despite the circumstances, remains forever hopeful that the day will come when the corrupt courts will finally do the right thing and rule in my favor and after the long 30 years, I will find myself back out there in the real world, and allowed to live what’s left of my life as a free man.

Who knows what tomorrow might bring? But it’s the hope and dreams that keep all of us going. Sure, objectively speaking, anyone would agree that my life sucks. But no matter how bad it might get, there are countless others that are far worse. Although the negativity of my situation does drag me down at times, especially when I’m foolish enough to contemplate the circumstances. I also must remind myself that I am far more blessed than most of them I live among. Too many here in my world truly have been completely abandoned by all and as the years pass they retreat further and further into that dark shadow of their own minds, until one day all that remains is the flesh, as the mind and soul have slowly eroded away.

So, as I “celebrate” my 25th anniversary of a continued life despite their never-ending attempts to end it, I realize that I do have a measure of freedom far greater than that many in the real world out there don’t have – I am free to choose how I want to deal with my fate. No matter what evil the cold blooded society might inflict on me, I alone am the gatekeeper, deciding for myself whether I will allow this solitary journey to eat away at who I am until all that remains is anger and hopelessness – or I can choose to laugh in the face of death and embrace this unique growth experience as it comes. And today, in this moment I do laugh and if they come to kill me tomorrow, I will laugh again. And as long as I can still laugh in the face of death, I know that I alone remain the master of my own life and nothing they can do will break me, as if the past 25 years has taught me anything, it is the measure of strength within myself, and I am stronger than they can ever hope to be, knowing that what does not kill me can only make me stronger and that at the end of the day the only absolute reality is death and nobody gets out alive.

Michael Lambrix

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The End of Yet Another Year

Here I am once again and I must begin by first expressing my gratitude to the small circle of really
awesome friends that I’ve been blessed with. Often I look around me and am only too aware that most of the guys in here have nobody and rarely even get mail. It makes me appreciate that even in the depths of this hell that man has created, there truly are many levels and no matter how bad it might be I know that I am far more fortunate than most of those around me. So, that’s why it’s so important to me that I let my friends know how much I do appreciate them.

It’s been a pretty difficult past few months. The denial of my new evidence innocence appeal this past June was a hard blow, but through the too many years I’ve gotten pretty good at rolling with the punches. The Florida Supreme Court also denied our “Motion for Rehearing”, but that was to be expected, Now within the next few months we will file a new appeal (technically called a “Petition for Writ of Certiorari”) in the United States Supreme Court, asking them to review the Florida Supreme Court’s denial and I think that under applicable Federal law there is a good chance that the Supreme Court will accept review and reverse the Florida Supreme Court, and throw my convictions out. This appeal, when it is filed, will be posted on my new website (which is still under construction) www.southerninjustice.net (the previously posted website www.southerninjustice.com is no longer accessible to me, which is why we had to put up a new one)



Also, as of November 22, 2013 my new appeal has been now filed in the Florida Supreme Court under Lambrix v State, Case No. SC13-1471. This appeal argues that based on the 2012 decision in Martinez v Ryan (US Supreme Court) the state court must now allow a full review of all the claims that were previously found “procedurally barred” including the evidence supporting my innocence, because my original post conviction lawyer failed to properly raise them. In 1996 the Florida Supreme Court made it clear that this 1996 decision was wrong. IF we can convince the Florida Supreme Court that they must now re-open my case, then I will finally be able to present all the evidence supporting my claim of innocence.

I am also pursuing a similar argument in the Federal Courts, but so far both the state and federal courts are refusing to recognize that last years Supreme Court decision in Martinez v Ryan requires re-examination. I think it’s only a matter of time before the Us Supreme Court will take up the issue, and then order the State and Federal courts to fully review claims brought under Martinez. And there’s a good chance that my case will be the one the US Supreme Court decides this important issue on. Again, the recently filed appeal now pending in the Florida Supreme Court will soon be available to read on www.southerninjustice.net
For those who constantly whine about how death row prisoners should only be allowed one round of appeals and then quickly put to death, they need to read the recent decision by the Florida Supreme Court on Roy Swafford v. State of Florida. On November 7, 2013 the Florida Supreme Court vacated Roy’s capital murder and rape conviction after previously denying relief in at least 4 appeals. Only now, almost 30 years later, did the evidence (including DNA evidence) finally rise to the level that the Court could no longer deny that Roy was wrongfully convicted and condemned to death for a crime he was innocent of.

What should really bother those of moral conscience is that all of this comes only after Roy came close to being executed years ago, and only a month after Roy’s name was included on a list of “death warrant eligible” prisoners. Roy’s case should remind all of us, especially these pro death penalty politicians who want to expedite executions that our system is far from being anywhere near perfect and even after many appeals have been repeatedly denied, and in too many cases there are still substantial and as yet unresolved questions of innocence.

But even as glad as we all are that Roy Swafford was finally exonerated of a crime he was innocent of, this past month another man who has been here for at least 30 years passed away. Tommy Groover died on October 31 (Halloween) after a long battle with health issues. This year has taken many of those from amongst our ranks, with Michael Bruno, Peter Ventura, Gary Alvord, Thomas Wyatt, “Buck” Gordy and Tommy Groover dying of natural causes” while the governor Rick Scott is pushing to put a record number of men to death by execution. If Governor Scott succeeds in executing Askari Muhammed  (Thomas Knight) in December 27, then he will hold the record for the most executions by any Florida governor in a single year. And it will only get worse next year!

I hope that all of you will check out my new website www.southerninjustice.net, as well as my postings on www.minutesbeforesix.com  (If you haven’t already read my continuing series “Alcatraz of the South”, you should) and until next time, I wish all of you a Happy Holiday

Michael Lambrix #482053

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Latest News from Florida’s Death Row (Sept, 2013)



Allow me to first send a warm hello to those that I am truly blessed to have as friends, who I too often neglect to express my gratitude and appreciation towards but wouldn’t want any of them to think that I take their friendship for granted. As most who read my irrelevant blog already know, things in my life have been especially difficult this summer as the courts denied my appeals and then last month the prison system tried to push through a new rule that if passed, would had effectively silenced me and all other Florida prisoners by prohibiting any and all forms of expression by way of the internet – more on that in just a minute.

It has been a long and hot summer – but what Florida summer isn’t? This time of year I am reminded just how much it means not only to me, but to all of us here on Florida’s death row to have these small electric fans. Most of you already know how unbearable a Florida summer can be – especially when you’re kept in a six foot concrete cage indefinitely, which becomes an oven during the long days of relentless summer heat and humidity.

But what some of you may not know is that for many years any form of fan was prohibited under the pretense of “security”, even a simple piece of cardboard used as a handheld fan could get you thrown into the hole. It really has nothing to do with any legitimate security concerns – it was simply yet another manifestation of the extreme malice prison officials held towards death row and their intent to have us suffer as much as they could.

From 1984 to 2006 I never had any form of fan and the only reprieve from the oppressive heat would be to sit naked on my toilet and pour water over my body to momentarily cool off. Then Randall Berg of the Florida Legal Institute agreed to represent the death row population in the Federal lawsuit arguing that the refusal to allow even so much as a small fan was “cruel and unusual”.

Only when under threat of legal action did the prison officials finally agree to allow a small electric fan, but that window of opportunity would be only open for a limited time, and at that moment of greatest urgency the completely volunteer group FDRAG (Florida Death Row Advocacy Group http://fdrag.kk5.org/#) quickly raised enough money to donate a small fan to each Florida death row prisoner, and so in 2005 Florida death row prisoners finally were allowed an electric fan. 


But donating fans to death row is only a small part of what FDRAG has so generously done to advocate humane conditions on Florida’s death row. Years ago when prison officials proposed to eliminate “contact” visits for Florida’s death row prisoners, FDRAG organized protests and the FDOC backed off, allowing us to keep our visits.

Recently, the few people who work to keep FDRAG going have struggled as support for the group has declined. So I wanted to take this moment to say how much it means to all of us here on death row to have FDRAG around, and for those of you who are not yet aware of the difference FDRAG on the quality of life for all of us here, I would ask that you check out FDRAG’s website  http://fdrag.kk5.org/# and consider to offer your support in any way you can or become a member as there is really strength in numbers and if only the membership in FDRAG would increase collectively we can all make a real difference.

Moving on, as I previously wrote in a blog in July, the pro-death penalty republican conservatives that control the Florida legislative pushed through new laws entitled The Timely Justice Act designed to significantly expedite more executions by now statutorily mandating that the Florida governor sign “death warrants” on every death sentenced prisoner who has completed his/her first round of state and federal appeals within 30 days. Under this new law at least 125 Florida death row prisoners (including myself) become immediately “death warrant eligible” as of July 1, 2013, with all 125+ executions to be scheduled within 6 months.

Numerous lawyers quickly filed a comprehensive legal challenge to this “Timely Justice Act” in the Florida Supreme court focusing primarily on the argument that the state legislature is constitutionally prohibited from passing laws mandating that another branch of government (i.e., the Governor) perform their duties in a certain manner. This legal challenge remains pending at this time with no action taken as the Florida Supreme Court has been out on their summer vacation until the last week of August.

Now that the Florida Supreme Court is back in session, we expect that the court will soon address this legal challenge. The state has responded to this challenge by claiming that the Florida Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction to entertain review of this challenge. This novel argument was specifically encouraged by Florida Supreme Court (current) chief Justice Rick Polston and Justice Charles Canady as an obvious attempt to circumvent review. Both chief Justice Polston and Justice Canady were politically appointed to the Florida Supreme Court after previously working with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush when he tried to push through the “Death Penalty Reform Act of 2000” , which attempted to adopt the Texas appeal system to Florida, but was declared unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court in 2000.

Now the pro-death penalty politicians have politically appointed their hand-picked death merchants to the Florida Supreme Court and chief Justice Polston and Justice Canady will use their power to push to have this new law upheld. But it will take 4 of the 7 Florida Supreme Court justices to reach any legal binding decision. There’s reason to believe that at least 4 of the current FSC justices will find that this newly passed Timely Justice Act does violate Florida’s “definition of power” laws and strike it down as unconstitutional. All we can do is wait and see..

In other news, the Florida Department of Corrections recently lost a significant federal lawsuit that had argued that the Florida DOC was violating prisoner’s constitutional right by refusing to provide an adequate “religious” diet for Jewish and Muslim prisoners who are prohibited from consuming “unclean” foods. As a result, the Florida DOC has been forced to immediately provide a “religious” diet to any Florida prisoner who declares that due to religious beliefs they cannot consume unclean foods. Not surprisingly, already many Florida prisoners (including those on death row) suddenly found “religion” and have signed up for this new “religious” diet.

To understand why such a substantial number have jumped on board, you must first understand that for many years now the Florida prison system has systematically “modified” our regular diet with the goal of cutting costs by almost completely eliminating any form of real meat, fruit or milk products. Most meats have become some form of soy protein based “meat substitute” that is virtually tasteless, and the quality of the food has become progressively worse and is generally considered to be inedible by most prisoners.

So, while the rest of us continue being fed food that not even a desperate dog would eat, those on this diet are now getting real food, prepared by an outside food vendor that is restaurant quality and includes real eggs and fruit at each breakfast and real meat (turkey cutlet, fish, chicken filets, Salisbury steak etc ) at all meals.

Although I’m tempted to get on this new diet myself, I would have to first declare myself either Muslim or Jewish, and as a matter of personal choice of religious affiliation, I cannot do that. So, I’m stuck with the garbage they feed us on the regular diet.

Last, for those of you who are not aware yet, the Florida DOC recently contracted all money deposits services to the private company JPay, so money orders cannot be sent to FDOC Tallahassee Inmate Bank anymore, but now must be sent to the Jpay address in Miami. You can find all the information you need at jpay.com, and this service also allows the convenience of electronic money deposits.  

That concludes this update on news affecting Florida death row. Again I thank all of you for your interest and continued support!

Michael Lambrix 
Florida Death Row

Please check out my site
www.southerninjustice.net



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

UPDATE ON IMMINENT FLORIDA HOLOCAUST

Before I address the latest developments regarding the recently passed “Timely Justice Act” which (if implemented) will directly lead to the signing of up to 200 death warrants in a matter of months, with each scheduled for execution within 180 days, I want to first take a moment to express my gratitude to all those who so generously reached out after the Florida Supreme Court denied my latest new evidence/innocence appeal in a particularly hostile ruling on June 27, 2013.

I cannot even begin to tell all of you how much it means to me that I have those of you who do care enough to send words of support and encouragement when the storm clouds gather above. Each day, just as every other condemned man and woman, I struggle to sustain my faith and hope that truth and justice will prevail. It’s not easy, and each time the politically corrupt courts deliberately turn a blind eye to my consistently pled evidence, supported by a virtual wealth of evidence, it becomes all that much more difficult.

But I truly am blessed by those who have so faithfully stood by me through the too many years. And I know that if not for the strength and support I receive from this small group of loyal friends, I would have given up long ago. So, thank you for all your cards and letters, and know that they are truly appreciated.

Now, I want to update all of you on the now imminent Florida Holocaust, which I wrote about in an earlier blog (“The Untimely Injustice Act”). On Monday July 15, 2013 I personally met with one of the lawyers representing death-sentenced prisoners on a comprehensive challenge to the constitutionality of this new Florida law that intends to severely limit capital post-conviction appeals and significantly speed up executions by obstructing any opportunity to develop and present new evidence supporting innocence.

This comprehensive legal challenge was formally filed in the Florida Supreme Court on June 26, 2013 and is docketed as Dane P. Abdool, et al. vs. Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General and the State of Florida, and the Florida Supreme Court Case number is “SC13-9999.” This was filed as a class action, with 166 Florida death-sentenced prisoners specifically named as the Petitioners (including myself). In actuality, this action represents all Florida death-sentenced prisoners, including many who would not be immediately affected by this new law as they have not yet completed their “first round” of both state and federal appeals or been provided the pathetically useless “clemency” review (no Florida death row prisoner has been actually granted clemency in well over 25 years).



This legal action is titled “Emergency Petition To Invoke This Court’s All Writs Jurisdiction, To Declare Unconstitutional Provisions Of The Timely Justice Act Of 2013, And For Immediate Temporary Injunctive Relief.” In addition to be represented by the politically appointed directors of the state-funded law offices responsible for providing post-conviction representation to hundreds of death-sentenced prisoners, private practitioners Martin J. McClain, Linda McDermott, and Terri Backhus, who also represent numerous death-sentenced prisoners, have signed on. For those unfamiliar with the Florida system, these are some of the most experienced and competent lawyers in capital post-conviction law. So it goes without saying that this legal challenge is well represented by a group of lawyers who have unquestionably proven their commitment to the cause over many years. ‘Marty’ McClain and Linda McDermott are considered by many as the best capital post-conviction lawyers practicing in Florida today.

What is at issue is whether the Florida legislature has the constitutional authority to implement statutory provisions effectively mandating that the Florida Governor “shall” sign death warrants within 30 days of capital cases certified by the Florida Supreme Court as having completed the first round of state and federal appeals. And upon signing such death warrants, each execution shall be scheduled within 180 days.

Under both the Florida and the Federal Constitution, known as the “Separation of Powers” clause, one branch of government cannot encroach upon another branch of government by ordering how to perform its duties. At both the state and federal levels there are 3 branches of government; (1) Legislative, (2) Executive, and (3) Judicial. The legislative branch passes new laws, which the Executive branch (the state governor or president) must then either sign into law or veto. Then as a means of safeguarding against political tyranny that might otherwise threaten the integrity of our constitutional democracy, if the newly created laws conflict with a fundamental constitutional right or provision, then interested parties are entitled to challenge the constitutional validity of these new laws in the Judicial branch by filing a “petition” such as what has now been filed.

To illustrate how this system of balances and checks is designed to work, shortly after Jeb Bush (younger brother of then President George W. Bush) won election as governor of Florida, he pushed through new laws in a joint effort with the Florida legislature that would have adopted the Texas death penalty appeal process to Florida. Its intent (like this recently passed “Timely Justice Act”) was to significantly limit the appeals death-sentenced prisoners could pursue, so that they could be executed that much quicker, even if they were innocent.

But this “Death Penalty Reform Act of 2000” was challenged before it could be implemented under the argument that under the Florida constitution, only the Florida Supreme Court (judicial branch) could create rules governing appellate procedures. So the Florida legislature’s (and Governor Jeb Bush’s) attempt to pass laws limiting post-conviction appellate review was unconstitutional because it violated the ‘separation of powers’ clause of the Florida Constitution. In the subsequent ruling in Allen v. Butterworth, 756 So. 2d. 52 (Fla. 2000) the Florida Supreme Court agreed and declared the “Death Penalty Reform Act of 2000” to be an unconstitutional attempt to encroach upon the judicial branch powers.

But just like their counterparts in Texas, Florida’s pro-death penalty Republicans do not give up so easily and they will zealously seek more and more executions despite empirical evidence that innocent people are being wrongfully convicted, condemned, and even put to death.

So, when the Florida Supreme Court declared the “Death Penalty Reform Act of 2000” to be unconstitutional, the Florida Republicans decided it was time to impose a political coup on the Florida Supreme Court by stacking the Court with their own hand-picked pro-death penalty justices. It came as no surprise when Florida Governor (then a Republican, but since ostracized by the Florida Republican party) Charlie Crist politically appointed none other than Charles Canady and Andrews Polston to the Florida Supreme Court. Both Canady and Polston were Jeb Bush insiders, who were personally involved in attempting to push through the “Death Penalty Reform Act of 2000.” The deliberate appointment of both Canady and Polston served only one purpose – to take political control of the Florida Supreme Court so these rabid republicans can force their new laws through and turn Florida into a killing machine.

Additionally, the Republican party gained complete control of both the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate, which controls the budget, and made it very clear to the Florida Supreme Court that if they continued to stand in their way, the Florida Supreme Court’s budget would be substantially reduced, effectively holding the Florida Supreme Court hostage to their own political will.

It then came as no surprise when, during this past legislative session, Florida republicans pushed through the “Timely Justice Act” to once again attempt to adopt the Texas post-conviction appeal process as a means in which to speed up executions.

This latest attempt to exert legislative control over the rule-making function of the Florida Supreme Court is clearly unconstitutional for the same reasons as the “Death Penalty Reform Act of 2000”, as recognized in Allen v. Butterworth, 756 So. 2d 52 (Fla. 2000). But this time, the politically stacked Florida Supreme Court is reluctant to intervene for fear of political retribution.

In a recent administrative order (not published), the Florida Supreme Court ordered the State of Florida to respond to the comprehensive legal challenge to these new laws. But upon careful reading of that order, one will notice that the Florida Supreme Court specifically instructed the State of Florida to address the question of whether the court even had jurisdiction to review the legality of this new law. The state’s response must be filed by July 18, 2013 and our reply is to be filed by July 29, 2013. After the reply is filed, the court should schedule oral arguments within the following month, which can be viewed in their entirely on the internet, both ‘live’ and recorded, at www.gavel2gavel.com (Case No. SC13-9999, Abdool v. PamBondi).

The reason the wording of this order is so troubling is that by questioning whether the Florida Supreme Court has ‘jurisdiction’ to review the legality of the “Timely Justice Act”, it’s become clear that some of the 7 justices are already attempting to obstruct review by asserting the court does not have jurisdiction. There’s absolutely NO doubt that both Chief Justice Andrew Polston and his pro-death penalty colleague, Justice Charles Canady are aggressively playing back door politics, questioning the court’s jurisdiction as a means of attempting to prevent the other 5 justices on the Florida Supreme Court from using majority vote to declare this new Timely Justice Act unconstitutional as they previously did in Allen v. Butterworth.

Bottom line, the lawyers representing Florida’s death-sentenced prisoners did file a comprehensive and competent petition challenging this newly created “Timely Justice Act” that should win. But because of the political corruption of the Florida Supreme Court, the court may not even accept review by disingenuously finding they don’t have jurisdiction. If this new law is not declared invalid, then Florida will soon proceed to sign death warrants within 180 days. Not even Texas has attempted to kill as many so quickly. But Florida is determined to turn the state into the leader of state-sanctioned executions. All we can do is wait and see.

Michael Lambrix

Please check out my website
http://www.southerninjustice.net

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

FLORIDA SUPREME COURT RULES ON APPEAL



As some of you who regularly follow my blog already know, on Thursday June 27, 2013 the Florida Supreme Court finally ruled on my long pending new evidence/innocence appeal, and unanimously denied the appeal in a “per curium” opinion. Considering it took the court almost 3 years to finally decide this case, the denial was a surprise – but even more surprising was the hostility reflected in the ruling. Instead of giving adequate review of the state’s own deliberate prosecutorial misconduct, as even the state conceded that the prosecutor had intentionally concealed numerous state crime lab files containing crucial evidence that would have undoubtedly undermined the credibility of the state’s key witness, the Florida Supreme Court instead chose to vent their unjustified hostility towards any “secondary” post conviction appeals.



Perhaps in a better world we would like to think that those appointed to our highest courts would have the moral character and professional integrity to rise above their own obvious prejudices and rule according to the law. But as the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, paraphrasing, those who spend their whole lives fighting monsters should not so much fear the monster, but instead fear becoming the monster. I truly doubt those on the Florida Supreme Court can even see the evil boiling within them, and blinded by their own distorted sense of “moral justification” they probably even think they are doing the right thing when they respond with such hostility towards legitimate claims of innocence and knowingly send innocent men and women to their death under the pretense of administering justice.

But the irony of their actions is that this decision strays so far and contrary to well established law that it could be argued that by ruling as they did, the Florida Supreme Court actually may have done me a favor.

Here’s what is at issue. The main claim in this appeal was that the prosecutor who originally tried this case deliberately concealed numerous state crime lab records back in 1983 that contained irrefutable evidence that the state crime lab found numerous hairs on the alleged “murder weapon” that did not match either the victim, or me, but were consistent with those of the state’s key witness, Frances Smith.

In 2009 an independent researcher found these state crime lab files concealed at a state records repository in boxes from the State Attorney’s office. This researcher then turned these file folders over to my lawyers, who immediately recognized that this was a major violation of long established Federal constitutional law.

In a nutshell, it has long been established that prosecutors are constitutionally required to disclose all favorable evidence to the defendant. Yet consistently we see that prosecutors deliberately violate this law and hide favorable evidence, hoping it will never be discovered – and only god knows how much is not discovered! This type of deliberate prosecutor misconduct is responsible for a greater percentage of wrongful convictions in death penalty cases than any other cause – and Florida by far leads the country in the number of such wrongful convictions in capital cases!

Apparently embarrassed by their record number of wrongful convictions, the Florida courts have now decided they will just ignore such deliberate prosecutorial misconduct – even if it means sending an innocent man to his death. For example, in James Guzman v. State of Florida, 721 So. 2d. 1155 (Fla. 1998) the Florida Supreme Court addressed a similar case in which irrefutable evidence showed the prosecutor deliberately concealed evidence that would have impeached the credibility of the state’s key witness – if the Florida Supreme Court had it their way, Guzman would have been put to death. But the Florida court’s denial was so contrary to applicable Federal law that the Federal courts subsequently intervened, specifically finding the Florida Supreme Court’s denial of a new trial “unreasonable” and “clearly contrary to established Federal law,” and on October 27, 2011 the Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, vacated Guzman’s capital convictions and ordered a new trial.


Similarly, on January 20, 2012, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Juan Smith v. Burl Cain, U.S. Sct Case No. 10-8145. Like in Guzman, the death sentenced petitioner (Juan Smith) was denied relief by the state courts on a claim that the prosecutor had deliberately concealed evidence that could have been used to undermine the credibility of the state’s key witness. In a cursory opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, which even conservative pro death penalty justices Scalia and Alito joined, the Supreme Court found that the state courts denial of this claim was unreasonable and contrary to clearly established federal law, and threw out all five capital convictions and sentences of death imposed on Juan Smith…only Justice Clarence Thomas disagreed.

For that reason, being familiar with applicable law, when I learned of how the Florida Supreme Court had denied my appeal in an extremely hostile opinion focused more on unethically attacking me and my legal counsel than on the substantial issue presented, instead of being upset, I smiled, as I knew immediately that they actually did me a favor – and their denial of relief actually will now significantly improve the likelihood that either the U.S. Supreme Court or Federal Court will now throw out my convictions in their entirety – and set the stage for my release, although it will now take longer.

Here’s how the case will now proceed…once the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling is “final” (after rehearing is denied), my lawyers will now take the case directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, and argue that as in Smith v. Cain (2012), the state court’s cursory denial of this substantial Federal claim must be summarily thrown out in their entirety. And in light of Smith v. Cain, there’s a very good chance that the U.S. Supreme Court will now do just that.

But assuming for the moment that the Supreme Court declines review, thanks to the Florida court’s refusal to allow a full evidentiary hearing on this issue, I will now be entitled to a full new Federal appeal, which will also now allow me to specifically argue “fundamental miscarriage of justice/actual innocence” – meaning that this will now open the door to allowing me to present all the evidence supporting my consistently pled claim of actual innocence.

Although it sucks that the Florida Supreme Court has once again shown that they lack the moral character and integrity to follow long established constitutional law – which obviously contributes to why Florida leads the country in wrongful convictions in capital cases – the truth is that upon realizing just how extremely outside applicable law this ruling was, I almost felt compelled to give the Florida Supreme Court justices a big hug and heartfelt thanks. And I can’t help but wonder if the Florida Supreme Court justices actually knew what they were doing as they obviously are aware of the decisions in Smith v. Cain and Guzman v. Sect., FDOC, and either just didn’t care what the Federal Courts think – or this is their way of saying that although they don’t have the courage or integrity to do the right thing by ruling as they did, they knowingly set the state for what they know will almost certainly now result in Federal Courts throwing out my convictions and result in my own exoneration and release.

I realize that many who do care about me and have followed my case are probably upset about this seemingly awful ruling – but I write this to tell you that although the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling was unreasonably hostile and reflects just how completely corrupted the Florida Supreme Court has become by the “politics of death” – and why there can be no doubt that they are only too willing to put innocent people to death – this really was not that bad of a ruling as they all but guaranteed that I will now receive full Federal review and almost certainly will now have my convictions vacated by the Federal Courts.

Michael Lambrix # 482053
Union Correctional Institution
7819 NW 228th street
Raiford, Florida 32026



Innocent and Executed - please read