Archive for February, 2009

Terrific Article on the Father Paul Shanley Case

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Dear Friend of Justice,

The Nation has just published a terrific article on the Father Paul Shanley case, by our good friend, JoAnn Wypijewski.

I urge you all to read it and pass it on:

-Bob Chatelle

Help Us Free Joseph Allen!

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Dear Friend of Justice,

My organization, the National Center for Reason and Justice ( has long been involved in the case of Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen. Many of you are already familiar with this terrible miscarriage of justice. (If you are not, please read this article.)

Due to a sentencing error, Nancy Smith was recently released on $100,000 cash bond. (See my post on her release.)

Nancy was fortunate in having someone post the bond. Joseph could likely be released  on the same bond, but he has no resources and his family can’t raise that kind of money. Neither can the NCRJ.

The alternative would be to pay a bondsman. The bonsdman’s fee would be $10,000 and that is non-refundable.

Difficult as it may be, the NCRJ is attempting to raise the money.

You can help in three ways.

One, you could make a tax-deductible donation to the NCRJ’s Prisoner Relief Fund. Send your donation to:

POB 191101
Roxbury MA 02119

Write “Prisoner Relief Fund on your check.

You can also make your donation by credit card.

The NCRJ can’t guarantee your funds will be used to help Joseph. (Donations earmarked for a specific individual are not deductible.) But giving to the Prisoner Relief Fund will give the Board the power to help. Funds in the Prisoner Relief Fund can only be used to help prisoners. Your donation will not go towards administrative expenses. If you don’t help Joseph, you will help someone else.

The other thing you can do is to email me ( and make a pledge to help pay Joseph’s bond. Your pledge will be called in if and only if (1) bond is granted and (2) there have been sufficient donations and pledges to pay the bond fee. (If your pledge is called in, however, the NCRJ will not be able to issue a tax receipt.)

The third way you can help is to send a link to this post to anyone you know who might be willing to help us right this terrible wrong.

Thank you for any help that you can give.

–Bob Chatelle

Bernie "Bee" Baran is Sick

Friday, February 13th, 2009

Dear Friend of Justice,

I am quite worried about Bee. He has been quite sick for a few days, complicated by severe asthma attacks. He finally saw a doctor this morning. She wanted to hospitalize him on the spot. He finally agreed to go if the medications prescribed for him don’t cause a dramatic improvement over the next couple of days.

Bee has suffered from asthma since childhood. he also suffered a great deal of physical abuse while in prison, causing him a lot of lingereing problems. His shoulder has been bothering him a great deal for a long time. The doctor feels he needs to see an orthopedic surgeon as soon as possible. She also scheduled him for a complete checkup. She told him that his lungs are in terrible shape.

One of the reasons Bee didn’t see a doctor before this is that he had such a terrible time getting health insurance. Once he got it, I bugged him to schedule a physical. But then his partner David became seriously ill and Bee’s focus was taking care of him. Both of them lost a great deal of work because of David’s illness, precipitating their current financial crisis.

The doctor was also skeptical about Bee continuing as a landscaper because of the asthma and his past physical injuries.

If you have Bee’s address, you might want to send him a card. If you don’t, I’d be happy to email it to you. I don’t want to post it in a public place to protect their privacy.

-Bob Chatelle

One Year and Counting

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Dear Friend of Justice,

One year ago today, the Massachusetts Appeals Court held a hearing on DA David Capeless’s motion to deny a new trial to Bernard Baran.

You may wish to review my report on that hearing. I also posted this follow-up comment.

It is unusual for the Appeals Court to take such a long time to issue a decision. There is, however, a huge volume of material to review. One hopes that it is all being thoughtfully read.

When will the Commonwealth’s persecution of this fine young man and his family ever stop?

-Bob Chatelle

Bob Halsey's Birthday.

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Dear Friend of Justice,

Many of you are already familiar with the sad case of Bob Halsey.

Bob is now in his late 70s and has been in poor health for a long time. He will almost certainly die in prison.

February 18th is Bob’s birthday. I know it would cheer him up if he were to receive a few cards. The address is:

Robert C. Halsey
Bridgewater State Hospital
20 Administration Road
Bridgewater MA 02324


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

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

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.

A Witch Hunt in North Wales

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Dear Friend of Justice,

A friend sends this link to a book review of a book about a witch hunt in a North Wales children’s home.

-Bob Chatelle