Our Dear Friend Mike Lambrix left us on October 5, 2017
He went from the Darkness to the Light..

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Are Prosecutors above the Law?

Some might argue that as a death sentenced prisoner I’m hardly qualified to throw stones at anyone, and maybe they’re right. In the Bible it quotes Jesus Christ as saying “let him who is without sin cast the first stone”. But then, I suppose it could equally be argued that it is human nature to find fault in others around us, in our own way, we all throw stones so is it really all that terrible that I throw a few stones, too?

Those familiar with my previous writing already know that I am especially critical of prosecutors who have exalted themselves to gods and use the power entrusted in them to victimize the innocents. For the life of me I just don’t understand why our society continues to tolerate what clearly is a virtual epidemic of prosecutional misconduct.
We live in a constitutional democracy and these prosecutors are employed to represent us, “we, the people”. When a state (or district) attorney prosecutes someone, they do it in our name.

But very rarely do we hear anyone speak out against these self-exalted “gods”, not even when we know they are corrupt and have consistently abused their authority.
Even our courts protect them by granting these parasites immunity, so that even if they do deliberately fabricate evidence and send an innocent man to his (or her) death under the pretence of administering “justice” they can look the court in the eye and know they are protected.

Recently I read an editorial in the USA Today newspaper (April 6, 2009 “Real-life CSI rife with conflicts of interest”) in which it mentioned only in passing that Texas had implicitly conceded they executed an innocent man. The editorial discussed a recent report in the National Academies of Science, in which independent investigators revealed that crime labs across the country routinely manipulate forensic evidence to favor the state, assisting the state in securing a conviction.

In that unnamed case the individual was convicted and condemned to death primarily upon the forensic evidence testing by a state-owned lab. But the test results that sent this man to his death were deliberately manipulated and at best, “unreliable”. This man protested his innocence to no avail - forensic evidence is presumed to be objective and jury’s will believe the science over the self serving protestations of innocence every time, oblivious to the fact that this all-powerful forensic evidence all too often is not what it seems, and is even routinely manipulated and fabricated to give the prosecutor the evidence needed to convict.

This Texas case is by no means the exception. Similar independent studies of crime labs in almost every other state have consistently exposed similar acts of manipulation of forensic evidence to win a conviction. Although perhaps in most cases the accused actually was guilty - but what about the countless cases in which the accused was innocent?

What this is really about is winning by any means necessary. Those familiar with the American criminal justice system know only too well that prosecutional misconduct is by far the leading cause of wrongful convictions. In the past year we have seen numerous high profile cases in which prosecutors deliberately broke the rules to win a conviction. Most recently it was the case of U.S. senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, ironically himself a career conservative who voted in the very Federal judges and US Supreme Court justices who have given prosecutors immunity even when they deliberately fabricate evidence and knowingly convict and even condemn the innocent.

Senator Stevens spent decades as a powerful politician – arguably one of the most powerful politicians in America. But he fell from political grace when he campaigned for “pork-barrel” projects that included an infamous “bridge to no-where”. Subsequently in came out that he had a substantial amount of money- which some said were pay-offs for his political support. Imagine that- a politician accepting kick backs.

Last October Senator Stevens was convicted of corruption, and his long political career abruptly ended in public disgrace. He of course vowed to appeal, protesting his innocence. But he was just jet another convicted felon crying innocence, and nobody bothered to listen.

Earlier this month the newly appointed US attorney General Eric Holder personally called for the conviction to be thrown out after his office discovered the prosecutor had actually withheld exculpatory evidence from Senator Steven’s lawyers. Although the prosecutor in the Stevens case is claiming inadvertent “carelessness”, the now revealed court intent in concealing the evidence that if exposed would had discredited the states case against Senator Stevens.

Think about this for a minute- if a prosecutor can deliberately conceal exculpatory evidence when convicting one of the most powerful senators in America, in a high profile case, then what chance does the average indigent accused criminal defendant in America actually have?

The American judicial system is completely corrupt to its very core- and I for one am absolutely convinced that the true cause of this inherent corruption is the judicially invoked absolute immunity the US Supreme Court has granted prosecutors.

For those unfamiliar with the legal concept of “absolute immunity”, basically it means that according to the US Supreme Court prosecutors cannot be held accountable, not even if they deliberately fabricate evidence to convict an innocent man.

In fact this issue is now again pending before the US Supreme Court (Pottawattamie County, Iowa vs. Harrington, US Sct case # 081065). In this case the lawyers representing two prosecutors (Joseph Heval and David Richter) are now arguing that although they do not deny deliberately concealing exculpatory evidence (evidence supporting innocence) from the accused, that based upon Imber V. Pachtman, 424 vs. 409 (1979) they are absolutely immune from being held accountable and the case must be dismissed.

What does it say about the integrity of the American judicial system when prosecutors can appear before the US Supreme Court and openly admit that they did knowingly withheld evidence resulting in a wrongful conviction – and claim that under the law established by the US Supreme Court, they cannot be held accountable?

The problem here is that the American public in general is ignorant- they just don’t have a clue as to how completely corrupt the judicial process has become. Most Americans don’t realize that the US Supreme Court has itself declared that prosecutors can deliberately fabricate evidence with the intent to convict and condemn innocent men and women with completely impunity – and that in America, the constitution does not even protect the innocent from being executed.

Without accountability there can be nothing but inevitable corruption. But how do you hold corrupt prosecutors accountable when the court protects them?
Even now as the public is becoming increasingly aware of the virtual epidemic of wrongful convictions we still tolerate a corrupt judicial system that effectively advocates convicting and executing the innocent by refusing to hold corrupt prosecutors accountable.

Maybe I’m wrong for throwing stones. But as Abraham Lincoln said – “evil can only triumph when good men choose to do nothing”. If the recent case of Senator Stevens clearly shows nothing else, it is that nobody- not even the most powerful politician in America, is immune from being victimized by deliberate “win by any means necessary” prosecutional misconduct.

I would encourage you to read the previously posted blog article “The Anatomy of a corrupt prosecutor" and think about why this matter really is by far the most important issue relating to the contemporary epidemic of wrongful convictions. Any legal system that knowingly tolerates the deliberate fabrication of evidence, including the deliberate concealment of exculpatory evidence, and allows this type of deliberate prosecutional misconduct to become the leading cause of wrongfully convicting and condemning innocent men and women is nothing less than completely corrupt itself.

But unless people start to speak out against this evil it will never end. How many more innocent men and women must be victimized by morally and ethically corrupt prosecutors who are more interested in winning the case than ensuring justice is served?
How many innocent men and women must be executed by a corrupt judicial system before people out there realize that if it can happen to me, it can also happen to you?
What will it take for the public out there to get it through their heads that if a corrupt prosecutor can do this to the most powerful politician in America, then they can do it to you too?

If this issue matters to you, then I ask that you check out www.southerninjustice.com , and read the currently pending appeal briefs in my case presently before the Florida Supreme Court. Collectively, these recently filed briefs (written arguments) show how easy it is for a state attorneys office to deliberately fabricate a case against anyone, and knowingly send an innocent man to death row. And just as it can happen to senator Stevens, and as it has happened to me, it can also happen to you or someone you love. Isn’t it time that each one of us stood up and spoke out against this epidemic of prosecutional misconduct and start demanding that our judicial system hold any prosecutor who dares to deliberately violate the law fully accountable. Anything less only serves to undermine the integrity of our judicial system itself.

1 comment:

William Newmiller said...

Mike--thanks for writing this. I know a bit about such things. my son is in for 31 years for a murder he didn't commit. I also know good writing when I see it. I'm an English professor at the Air Force Academy. I just want to give you some encouragement and tell you to keep it up. Your voice is a strong one.