Tuesday, May 7, 2013
The dark clouds are again on the distant horizon and promising a storm is on the way, as Florida's politicians push to pass new laws intended to adapt the Texas capital post conviction appeal process to Florida.
We have seen this before. Back in the year 2000 when Jeb Bush
was elected governor here in Florida. (Jeb Bush is the younger brother of former president George W Bush) His first order of business was to collaborate with conservative republican politicians in the Florida legislation to pass what was then called the "Death Penalty Reform Act of 2000". Within months of being elected to office Governor Bush signed this law into effect. Under this law Florida intended to transform the existing multi-level post comviction review process into a single consolidated streamlined process that would require all death sentenced prisoners to file their appeal within a matter of months after being sentenced to death. Further, it would limit any chance of pursuing any succesive appeals, such as those based upon newly discovered evidence, including evidence supporting innocence. Quite simply, the clearly stated intent of this law was to expedite executions by eliminating meaningful appelate review even if it meant that innocent prisoners would be put to death without any chance of proving their innocence.
However, this law never actually went into effect as before it could be implemented the Florida Supreme Court declared it to be unconstitutional. But even so, they informally reached a compromise to appease those bloodthirsty politicians by adapting its own amendments to the rules governing capital post conviction appeals, which placed substantial limitations upon succesive appeals.
But of course, that was not enoughto satisfy these politicians, whose only agenda was the bottom line of turning the Florida death penalty into a Texas-style killing machine. In the past 12 years since the Florida Supreme Court spanked these over-reacting politicians, this same group of fanatical conservative politicians set out to methodically take control of the Florida Supreme Court itself.. "By God, if the State constitution says that only the Supreme Court can change the rules governing capital appeals and these damned bleeding hearts liberals on the Court were standing in their way then they would simply find a way to take control of the Court itself"...and they did.
In recent years these Florida republicans have methodically taken over the all important Judicial Committees responsible for nominating the judges to the courts, and forced a change of law that now prohibits the governor from choosing anyone who is not specifically nominated by these Republican controlled committees.
As a result, when a vacancy is created on the Florida Supreme Court the Governor must now appoint only one of their own pro-death penalty justices. In the past 5 years this has proven incredibly effective, as when the most recent vacancies were created by the forced retirement of several judges, these republican-controled committees forced the appointment of Charles Canady and Andrew Polston to the Florida Supreme Court.
Before being appointed to the Florida Supreme Court and quickly elevated to Chief Justice, Charles Canady was General Council for Governer Jeb Bush, and the one who personally pushed for the Death Penalty Reform Act of 2000, and Canady was then substantially assisted by then Florida Supreme Court Justice Polston. This is how incidious politics of death corrupts over judicial process - these conservative pro-death politicians are deliberately stacking the the deck to accomplish their own agenda. And incredibly, nobody in the main stream media seems to care, and of course, the brain dead sheep (i.e. Florida citizens) are blissfully ignorant of these political manipulations...nobody cares.
So now the pro-death politicians have taken control of the Florida Supreme Court they are now pushing new proposed laws through the Florida legislation, again adopting the Texas-style appeals process to Florida, and threatening the Florida Supreme Court with a proposed Constitutional Amendment that would allow the Florida Legislature to have the power to promulgate rules governing death penaly appeals.
The difference between the previous attempt and what is now proposed is that this time these politicians have their own hand-picked justices controlling the Florida Supreme Court. Not surprisongly, Chief Justice Polston and his cohert Canady have now chosen a 5 members "task force" empowered to study ways that the capital appeal process can be speeded up so that these sentenced to death will actually be put to death within 6-10 years of being sentenced.
This task-force studying the Florida post conviction appeal process is to issue its conclusions and recommendations by this September, but whatever their conclusions may be, it certainly will not be an objective and impartial study as each of these 5 commission members were hand-picked because they possess the same agenda as the poiticians who appointed them. The final report will undoubtedly paralell the political agenda of expediting executions by any means necessary.
Of course, this task force will not look into - or even address - the systematic prosecutional misconduct that causes substantial delays in appelate review, and that Florida indesputably convicts and condemns more innocent people to death than any other state.
What really troubles me most is that I do believe that the majority of Americans are guided by a sense of moral conscience and believe in the concept of fundamental fairnes and whn it comes to the death penalty, moral conscience and the integrity
of our judicial process are quickly abandoned and inevitably too many themselves become blindly intoxicated by the insatiable zeal to kill, as if they were part of the old west lynch mob and cannot see that by eroding the process available to protect against executing innocent people, each of those who go along with this new drive to "streamline" the death row appeals are themselves complicit in the inevitable execution of innocent men and women. But make no mistake about this truth - our process as it currently exists is already fundamentally flawed and there is no doubt innocent people have been put to death. But if and when these anticipated "reforms" do pass - and they most likely now will - Florida will go from already convicting and condemning more innocent men and women to leading the nation in actually executing more innocent prisoners.
It is truly a sad commentary that this is what America today has become - a nation that was once a beacon of protecting basic human rights for all the world to see, but now has become so consumed by its need to hate that we now not only lead the world for the rate of incarceration, but also openly compete with China, Iran, North Korea and other nations defined by their indifference to human rights, to put more and more people to death. Those who say that America has abandoned its moral concience are right and as we continue down the slippery slope of apathic indifference to basic human rights and even continued advocacy for an obviously flawed death penalty will evode that foundation upon which we as a country stand upon and it is this country itself that will inevitably fall once that moral foundation crumbles.
Michael Lambrix #482053
Union Correctional Institution
7819 NW 228th Street (P3226)
Raiford, FL 32026-4400
Read here an article from the Miami Herald about the Timely Justice Act
Sign here to urge Governor Scott to Veto Florida House’s shameful bill to "speed up" death penalty
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