Archive for June, 2009
Dear Friend of Justice,
I have just received word that Judge Burge has voided the convictions in the notorious Nancy Smith/Joseph Allen case. See http://chronicle.northcoastnow.com/2009/06/24/burge-tosses-convictions-in-head-start-case/
That the convictions of Smith and Allen were a gross miscarriage of justice is apparent to any rational person who has ever taken a look at these cases. Judge Burge is obviously a rational person.
The prosecutors and their supporters, on the other hand, are either irrational, ignorant, or dishonest — or some combination. I’m sure they are not going to let the matter drop. But we can hope that the danger of these fine people being sent back to prison has lessened considerably.
For some background, see http://members.shaw.ca/imaginarycrimes/smith&allen.htm
Dear Friend of Justice,
Yesterday Jim D’Entremont and I went out to western Massachusetts, with Bee Baran and his partner, David. We stayed with his niece, Crystal, and her husband Jeremy. We were treated to a wonderful family dinner at Jeremy’s parents. Bee’s parents and his brother and sister-in-law were also there.
Shortly before dinner, I received a phone call from Joseph Allen. (See this link for more information.)
As always, I was glad to hear from him because he is one of my favorite people. But he had two disturbing pieces of news.
One, he has developed a painful infection in one of his toes. But he can’t find a doctor to treat him because he has no money and no health insurance. A family member is going to try to find a free clinic where he can be treated.
The other disturbing thing is that he and his family were invaded by a woman screaming hatred and threats. A neighbor vidoetaped the ugly incident and they hope that the police might take some action.
Joseph’s troubles made me think of all of those people who have not yet received any measure of justice. My organization — the National Center for Reason and Justice — currently sponsors 25. This represents a tiny fraction of the people who have come to us for help. We just don’t have the resources to investigate many cases.
This week I have especially been thinking about the Amirault family. Gerald Amirault was arrested a few weeks before Baran and the hysteria around that case helped lead to the accusations against Baran. But Massachusetts Courts refused to grant any relief to the innocent Amiraults. I am convinced that this was primarily for political reasons. The villains in this case — such as former gubernatorial candidate Scott Harshbarger and current Attorney General Martha Coakley — are major political powers in this corrupt state.
But I can at least hope that the ending of the Baran case might yet lead to further victories of justice over corruption, ignorance, and greed.
Dear Friend of Justice,
I just got the news that the First Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed with prejudice the conviction of Michael O’Laughlin.
See http://www.freemichaelnow.com/ for details and the decision.
This was a major case (and another black eye) for Berkshire County DA, DAvid Capeless.
There has long been something rotten in Berkshire County. The stench is getting noticed.
Dear Friend of Justice,
Crystal emailed us the following letter today, with permission to post:
Dear Bob & Jim:
Let me start by thanking you both for everything you have done for Bernie and my family, for without your intelligence, wisdom, courage, charisma, love, support, generosity and commitment to right the many wrongs of the justice system and government, we would not have FREEDOM, 06/09/09!
I am not sure if I am the first of my family to write you a letter, but I am sure I will not be the last. Also, we are still trying to catch our breath. Before I go on any further I just want to tell you that I am writing this letter without my Uncle Bernie’s or my family’s knowledge or input. I only tell you this because my thoughts, ideas and perceptions of things are my own. I am sure you will see the family resemblance in some feelings I will be sharing with you. As friends of our family, you’ll understand.
On Monday night, June 8th as the word spread through our family about Capeless’s “secret” press conference, we quickly worked out all of our schedules so that we could be together to hear the news. The fear loomed large, none of us slept, and when we talked, we tried not to mention the outcome all of us dreaded to hear the most. While my mouth spewed positive reinforcement, my heart and mind were heavy with nagging, negative emotion. This may seem pessimistic to some, but Capeless, Ford and numerous others have never “done the right thing” by Bernie. I know you can understand this because you were the ones to point out all of the injustices done to Bernie so we could be where we are today. I also know it is evident how doubt, fear and injustice have always been players in our lives.
When Tuesday a.m. rolled around, Bernie and Dave left their house early, to make the trip from Boston, so that we could be together as a family when the news was read. Bernie was worried if we went to Capeless’s office that day and the alleged victims or believers of Ford’s lies were there, someone might say hurtful things or worse yet, physically hurt his mother. Meanwhile, my grandmother was talking to me on the other line about how to protect Bernie from the same thing. They both have endured too many years of discrimination, hate and ignorance, so we decided it would be best if they stayed in an undisclosed location until the press conference was over. My Uncle Santo and I would wait at Capeless’s office (in the hallway of course, because while we are tax-paying citizens and Capeless is a public servant, or so I thought, we were denied access) until his decision was given, so that we could call Bernie and my grandmother right away.
Many thoughts raced through my head in those tense moments, like the underhanded way that Capeless silently slithered behind all of our backs to call this press conference in the first place. Then I heard these words, Capeless is dropping the case! I couldn‘t breathe, did I hear right? BUT…his “decision was not based upon any judgment that Baran did not do what he was convicted of…” and SLAM, just like that his moral compass headed south yet again, so I knew it had to be true. Do the lies and back covering ever end? Then it hit me, this is the way they wanted it, (to use your euphemism), to keep an “elephant hiding under a rug“. They were going to go out the same way they came in, never admitting their wrongs, never apologizing or taking responsibility for ruining an innocent, young man’s life.
Nonetheless, I tried not to dwell on his reasons. I was just glad it was over for now. The feeling was surreal as I kept repeating to myself that this was not a dream and that Bernie was free. With tears streaming down my face I raced for my car, pulled myself together enough to drive to my grandmother’s house where I would find my grandmother and Bernie embracing each other and weeping harder than I ever heard either of them weep. All of us took turns holding each other, crying together and repeating the words, ‘it’s over” and “freedom”. When emotions settled down we had a modest celebration, no expensive wine or big party, just a scarred family trying to begin anew.
While we cried, laughed, rejoiced and thanked people I couldn’t help but realize as I looked around at my family, how much was truly taken from us. Freedom’s price was never more evident to me until I looked at the aging faces of my family. My grandmother is no longer the young woman she was when Bernie was first arrested. The fight is still in her but she is getting weary from the long, hard, and unfair journey. Her face tells the tale of a woman who has fought hard the battle of life, but needs to have justice prevail. Bernie is no longer the youthful, vibrant eighteen year old who used to take me to the park, push me on the swings, dance to Solid Gold with me, read me bedtime stories or let me sneak out of bed to stay up late, watch TV & eat snacks. My mother and my other uncles, Santo and Clint, are all older now, have kids and even grandkids of their own. The love we have will carry us into our futures, but it can never make up the time we lost.
As we began to talk of adventures we wanted to go on (Bernie has never seen a palm tree) and what our next move would be (the closest thing we ever had to a family vacation is when the prison used to have family day), I realized it would be short lived. None of us have the means or money to take a family vacation or even allow Bernie to live the life he deserves. All of us live humbly and have to work to survive, especially Bernie, living in Boston. There was going to be no time off for my hardworking grandmother or Bernie to celebrate and really absorb what had just happened! You would think after a quarter century of rules, restrictions and false imprisonment that Bernie would be able to live life the way he wants to, but he can’t.
We can never get back the time that was stolen from our family, but I need your help to raise money for Bernie, so that he can get one step closer to full freedom, financially, physically and mentally. While most of us have had time to go to college, choose careers, make our own life mistakes, fall in love, travel, explore, and just experience life, Bernie never has. His youth and innocence were stolen from him and while some financial freedom will never make up for this loss, at least it will enable him to not worry and really, really live life the way he wants to. My grandmother is not getting younger and her family’s history is not one of longevity (she is the only one to live past 65). I do not say this as a scare tactic but to help understand how precious Bernie’s time is with her. Their years to be together are numbered and I don’t want them wasting precious moments worrying about how to do it.
In my opinion, it will never be over until Ford is brought to justice. Until that happens I need your help to make life more breathable for Bernie. That is why I am reaching out to the two of you once again, to help my husband and me to organize a fundraiser for Bernie at our house, a Freedom ‘09‘ party. We want anyone who can make it to be here, supporters, lawyers, and friends. You can come see our home when you come to Pittsfield, we have the yard for it. I haven’t discussed it with Bernie or my grandmother yet, but I want to do this for them.
My grandmother is the backbone of my family, Bernie is my hero. Together they taught me about sorrow, adversity, hope, pride, truth, justice, commitment, faith, respect, honor, loyalty and love. I can never give them the freedom and peace they deserve, but with your help I can try. Please help me help them.
With all my love and gratitude,
Crystal Squires xoxo
PS-You can do with this letter what you wish. I know in the past they have been posted.
From the Berkshire Eagle:
From the Worcester Telegram:
Dear Friend of Justice,
This morning Berkshire County DA David Capeless finally announced that he would no longer pursue the Baran case. Here is a short article posted at the Berkshire Eagle web site: http://www.berkshireeagle.com/ci_12552695
When I spoke with Bee a little while ago, he was shedding some very well-earned tears. He and his family have been living this nightmare for almost a quarter of a century. Jim D’Entremont and I are relative newcomers to the case. We’ve only been involved for 11 years.
My mind is racing.
One question that pops into mind: Does this mean that the system worked?
My first inclination is to say, “Hell, no! The system didn’t work. We worked. We worked damn hard fighting the power of a hearltess macchine.”
But this wouldn’t give credit to those people in the system who did work, and who worked very hard. I think especially of Judges Fecteau, Lenk, Duffly and Green and their staffs. There was a tremendous amout of material. They read it all, they read it thoughtfully, and they responded with two beautiful decisions. I am most grateful. Whenever I’m tempted to think too unkindly of judges, I will do my best to remember these.
Nevertheless, this hard-won victory proves that there are very serious things wrong with our judicial system.
Ten years ago, I read the Baran trial transcript for the first time. It is appalling. The injustice was so blatant, that I naively thought it would not take that long to free him. Boy was I wrong.
You can’t fight power without money. And we had none. So we started to raise it. To date we’ve raised about $320,000. We were lucky to find a few big donors. But most of that came from concerned citizens of limited means. This is what it costs when ordinary people are forced to do the job that should be done by the government.
Our expenses, however, thus far total $589,000. This is just what has been actually billed. A great many services were donated. All of our expert witnesses, for example, were not paid a dime. The lawyers donated time. And the lawyers know that most of their bill will never be paid.
Should it really take citizens over ten years and over half a million dollars to right a greivous wrong committed by their own government?
I would like to think that the Baran case might eventually lead to some meaningful judicial reform. But I’m not holding my breath. That would require a lot of work from good citizens.
Democracy requires more than voting — and far too few Americans even do that. Democracy requires that citizens inform themselves, work for needed reforms, and hold their government accountable for its actions.
What comes of this is not up to me. It’s up to you.
As for me, as soon as we catch our breath, we are going to savor this victory and celebrate it.
Dear Friend of Justice,
Here is a link to a Berkshire Eagle article of a few days ago: http://www.berkshireeagle.com/editorials/ci_12508095?source=email
David Capeless has until June 15th to appeal the Appellate Court decision. Let us hope he finally does the sensible thing and brings this case to an end.
Unfortunately, the powers that be in Berkshire County seem to operate without restraint by morality or reason. But we can at least hope.