I’ve been in research mode most of this week. Learning about the system that has caused this injustice is paramount to finding a solution. I’ve been testing Alexander’s case against a few other cases in which the accused was given consecutive sentencing and subsequently appealed. In most instances if the accused was a first time offender the appellate court sided with the convicted, agreeing that consecutive sentencing should be reserved for repeat and violent offenders. I’ve tested Alex’s case against ohio_v_torres (click the link to download the case file yourself if you like). Torres was a man that ran over some children and then panicked, fleeing the scene. When police found him he lied and said he was innocent. He later admitted his guilt and the judge gave him consecutive sentencing. Torres appealed the ruling based on three points of contention: 1) He was a first time offender 2) By making the sentences consecutive the total combined time he would be incarcerated was above and beyond the actual maximum sentence that could be imposed and 3) It was a violation of his 6th amendment rights to have sentencing passed down by a sole judge rather than a jury, even though he entered a plea of guilty. Torres won his appeal.
The biggest landmark case concerning consecutive sentencing guidelines was Blakely vs. Washington in 2004. You can find the wiki page to this case here. The opening paragraph says quite a bit about the entire case:
Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), held that, in the context of mandatory sentencing guidelines under state law, the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial prohibited judges from enhancing criminal sentences based on facts other than those decided by the jury or admitted by the defendant(such as deliberate cruelty as in a ‘hate crime’). The landmark nature of the case (for good or ill) was alluded to by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who “described the Court’s decision as a ‘Number 10 earthquake.'”
Blakely won his appeal.
Blakely also taught me a new term which I have under my cap: judicial vindictiveness: A judge is an impartial dispenser of justice or a neutral arbiter between the prosecutor and the defendant.
if I could I would send you to prison for every day possible. I would forget about you before I even got back to Henderson county – Judge Mark E Powell directed at Alexander on the day of sentencing
does that sound like a impartial dispenser of justice or a neutral arbiter to you? … plus, the judge gave no explanation as to why he was making the sentences all consecutive, even though Alexander was a first time offender convicted of a non-violent crime. According to my research this constitutes judicial vindictiveness. There are also factors which are currently coming into the light which may suggest prosecutorial impartiality.
I want to introduce you to a name that you will be reading quite a bit about in the coming days/weeks and months. Thomas H. Cohen. Mr. Cohen is a statistician with the Bureau of Justice and he has published a very interesting report “Who’s better at defending criminals? Does type of defense attorney matter in terms of producing favorable case outcomes” … it is Mr. Cohens conclusion that private attorneys vs. public defenders vs. court appointed counsel are all pretty much equal in conviction rate yet, the punishment rates of court appointed counsel skyrocket when compared to private and public defenders. His report goes into great detail and is available in .PDF format for you to download and read SSRN-id1876474
My next update will revolve around why that is the case. Why does court appointed counsel afford their clients more severe punishments than private attorneys or even public defenders. Think about it, very hard. My conclusions are going to reveal a trend in our current judicial system, a loophole of injustice, if you will … that even Mr. Cohen has yet to discover. We’ll dig into that in great depth, using Mr. Cohen’s report as statistical proof of my allegations, in my next blog entry.
Those that know me personally know that I’m never going to let go of this. Our son Alexander still faces 4-5 more years of unneeded, unwarranted and expensive incarceration. To those that don’t know me personally, to the new members of our audience here at htt://freealexander.org, to those just realizing that we are here, and those that are responsible for our sons misery … never presume that my apparent inactivity or silence means that I’ve forgotten what you’ve done to our son, or that it represents a fading away of this campaign. On the contrary … those are the times when I’m learning and preparing. That knowledge will one day free our son … and bring allegations of wrongdoing upon those responsible.