Nancy Smith is Tasting Freedom for the First Time in 15 Years

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

I received this today from Lona Manning, my friend and a Friend of Justice:

Today, February 4, 2009, Nancy Smith is tasting freedom for the first time in fifteen years.

Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen were convicted of sexually abusing young children in August of 1994. Smith, a 37-year-old single mother with four children, was a bus driver for the Lorain, Ohio Head Start. The prosecution charged that after delivering the children to school, she would sometimes keep three or four of them and take them to a mysterious location, where she and a man known to the children only as “Joseph” would commit various sexual acts with them, make them drink urine, and poke them with needles and sticks.

But an examination of the police investigation leaves many disturbing questions; questions about the children’s testimony, questions about whether Smith and Allen even knew each other — questions about whether, in fact, any crimes were committed at all.

Lorain County Common Pleas Court Judge James Burge overturned her five consecutive life sentences and released her on $100,000 bail as her friends and family in the courtroom burst into tears of joy. Nancy Smith’s sentence has been overturned, but not her conviction. She may return to prison, albeit with a reduced sentence, when a new sentencing hearing is scheduled. However, this legal breakthrough opens the door for future appeals of her conviction.

Smith’s lawyer Jack Bradley brought the successful appeal of her sentence owing to a technical error by the original trial judge. Bradley does not act for Smith’s co-accused, Joseph Allen, who is still in prison. Smith’s daughter, Amber Bronish, has been fighting for her mother’s freedom. She recently organized a rally in support of her mother in freezing cold weather in front of Lorain City Hall.

Smith told Jeff Green of the Morning Journal that she would never give up hope. “Because if it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to clear my name of these charges. It’ll never end until I do.” Smith was turned down for parole in 2007, and said then she would rather die in prison than confess to crimes she did not commit.

See below for the link to my article about this shameful miscarriage of justice.