It's Over!

[Note: Friends of Justice is a personal blog. I speak only for myself.]

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.

-Bob Chatelle