Petition to Bill Haslam, Tennessee Governor
Exonerate Lawrence McKinney who spent 32 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.
I first met Lawrence McKinney nearly two years ago, when I wrote a story about his case. I already knew who he was -- I had watched him from afar every Sunday morning as he sat across the church we both attend. He may just be the most faithful person I know. And it’s that faith that got him through 31 years, nine months, 18 days and 12 hours of a wrongful 100-year sentence in Riverbend Maximum Security Prison. DNA evidence ultimately led a judge to overturn McKinney’s rape and burglary conviction, and he was released in July 2009. But his battle wasn’t over. The struggle to clear his record took another 5 years. And there’s still one arduous legal step in McKinney’s path to freedom: exoneration. With it will come the final clearing of his name and a chance for compensation for his time spent in prison. Only a governor can exonerate a person, and McKinney’s application for exoneration is currently in Governor Haslam’s hands. We, the many supporters of the upstanding and inspirational Lawrence McKinney, are calling on the Tennessee Board of Parole and Governor Haslam to exonerate him immediately so that he may start a much-deserved new chapter in his life. In Haslam’s six years as governor, he has yet to exonerate anyone. But Lawrence reminds us that we must have faith. He is currently working toward becoming a preacher, because, as he says, “With my situation, I feel like people could get the hope to make it through anything.” All of us in his community and his church are angry about what happened; we feel vengeful. But he does not. He says he doesn’t have time. It’s amazing. Please, let’s show our support for Lawrence McKinney so that his name can finally be cleared and he can move on fully with his life. I’m calling on Governor Haslam to do the right thing and make Lawrence McKinney the first exoneree on your watch.
Petition to United States Supreme Court
Justice For Byron Blake
Byron Blake Is A Native Of East St. Louis, IL. In 2007, He Was Tried And Convicted Of A Federal Drug Conspiracy Charge Which Ultimately Led To Him Receiving A 35 Year Sentence In Prison. Since Then Byron Has Sought Relief Through The Remedies Provided To Him, One Of Which, Was An Opportunity To Directly Appeal The Decision Of The District Courts. In 2008, Byron Blake's Case Was Reviewed By The United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit. In This Appeal Byron Challenged The Drug Quantity Used During His Sentencing On The Grounds That The Government Witness' Testimony Was Unreliable. The Government Witness First Testified That His Relationship With Byron Blake Began In 2005, This Relationship Subsequently Ended In 2006 When Blake Was Indicted. During Blake's 2007 Trial The Witness Testified That He Received 4.5 Ounces Of Cocaine From Blake Weekly "On A Front" For "2 Years". It Was Based On This Testimony That The Probation Officer Who Prepared Blake's PSI Report Reached The Conclusion That Blake Was Responsible For Distributing 13.5 Kilos Of Cocaine. Using The Finding Of The Probation Officer As A Basis The Trial Judge Sentenced Blake To 35 Years In Federal Prison Of Which He Would Have To Serve 85%. Upon Appellate Review, The United States Court Of Appeals Held That The Probation Officer's Finding Was Not Sufficiently Reliable And That The Court Should Have Attempted To Resolve The Issues In The Witness Testimony, The Core Of Those Issues Being The Witness' Claim That He Was Fronted 4.5 Ounces Of Cocaine Per Week For 2 Years. The Reason Why This Part Of The Testimony Was So Crucial Was Because It Was Used To Find A Drug Quantity Which In Turn Determined Blake's Sentencing Range. Based Upon The Evidence There Was No Way Possible That The Witness Was Receiving As Much Drugs As He Claimed For As Long As He Claimed. 2005, The Year In Which The Government Claims That This Drug Relationship Started Is Not 2 Years From 2006, The Year In Which Blake Was Arrested And We Know That This Drug Relationship Ended. The Court Of Appeals States This In Their Decision. In This Same Decision, The Court Of Appeals Also States That The Determination Of The Probation Officer Was "Not Sufficiently Reliable" And That The District Court Should Have Attempted To Resolve The Inconsistencies In The Witness Testimony. However, The Court Of Appeals Did Not Reverse The Decision Of The District Court Nor Did They Remand Blake's Case Back To The District Court For Those Issues To Be Resolved. Review Of Federal Rule 32(c) (3) (D) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure If A Defendant Disputes A Fact Included In The Presentence Investigative Report, The Sentencing Court Must Either Resolve That Dispute Or State That It Will Not Rely On The Disputed Fact. In This Instance, The Defendant Disputed The Drug Quantity Attributed To Him, The District Court Did Not Resolve The Issue But Still Relied On The Disputed Fact. The Court Of Appeals Found This Drug Quantity To Be Unreliable, Found That The District Court Did Not Resolve The Issue And Still Affirmed The Conviction Of Byron Blake, Despite The Fact That Failure To Comply With Rule 32 Itself Is Grounds For Reversal. In Short, What We Have Here Is A Case Where A Mistake Was Made, The Court Has Acknowledged The Mistake And Still No Effort Was Made To Correct The Injustice. The End Result, A Man Sitting In Prison For 35 Years Based On Clearly False Testimony!!!!!! Attached To This Petition Are Exerts From The Transcripts, Inside The Red Circles You Will See The Statements Made By The Court Of Appeals And The Others Are Clear Copies Of The Same Thing To Show That No Language Was Altered!!!!! In Their Own Words, A Mistake Was Made, Now Its Time To Fix It!!!!! We Cannot Continue To Allow This System To Oppress People And To Blatantly Overlook Its Own Wrongdoing In The Process Of Punishing Others For Theirs!!!!!
Petition to CNN, chris matthews, National Action Network, MSNBC, Bill de Blasio, Andrew Cuomo, Rachel Maddow, Rainbow Coalition
A moment of your time could end Shane Watson's 23 yr. wait for Justice! Can you help?
For the past 23 years of his life, Shane Watson has been serving a prison sentence for a crime he did not commit. Over the last 12 years, Will Duchon and "The Opus Thirty Mission" ("the Mission") have struggled to get Shane justice, while his wife and children wait for the day their husband and father will come home. Through extensive investigation, the Mission, their legal council and a professional investigator, have discovered a great many discrepancies in Shane’s case and there is more than a reasonable doubt in this case. Mr. Watson did not committ the crime for which he has been imprisoned. In Investigator Doug Walters' summary report (http://opusthirty.blogspot.com/p/my-conclusions-about-case-of-shane.html he determined that there was limited to no investigative process, no physical evidence obtained, and that the witness investigation was weak and improperly handled and in one case legally recanted by affidavit. In fact, Investigator Walters is so committed to his belief in Shane’s innocence and his moral obligation to correct the injustice done to Mr. Watson that he has done all of his work over the years pro bono. Based on the information in Investigator Walters report, it seems very clear that there is not only reasonable doubt that Mr. Watson committed this crime and should never have been convicted but there is also an enormity of overwhelming doubt that he should have ever been arrested for this crime in the first place. Over the last 12 years, even in the light of this evidence and a clear presentation of reasonable doubt, the Mission's legal team and supporters have been thwarted at every turn, being denied even so much as a new trial. The options for appeal continue to diminish and the financial toll it has taken on his family and supporters to get someone in the system to recognize his innocence has been devastating. Now his case is before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein. The Mission is seeking to get the authorities to vacate Mr. Watson's 1993 conviction, or at the very least grant Shane a new trial in the face of new evidence. Based upon review of the facts of the case as well as the newly discovered evidence it is clear that to prolong Mr. Watson's imprisonment would be not be just. Through all of this Shane has remained a man of reason and faith who continues to hold onto to the hope that, in a fair legal system, he will be exonerated and allowed to return to his wife, his children, his church and his community and finally take his place in society which has been denied him for the past 2 decades. Please take one moment of your time to sign this petition and send it to as many people, agencies and news outlets as you can to ensure that this last remaining effort to end Shane's 23 year wait for justice is successful.
Petition to Mark Hale
We Call on Brooklyn District Attorney's Office to Free Jermaine Archer!
ABOUT ME Early in my incarceration I recognized the need to make changes in my life and atone for my past behavior because although I did not kill Patrick Niles, I realized that my lifestyle contributed to my incarceration, which led me to pursue available academics, vocational and therapeutic opportunities. From 2002-2003, I earned an apprenticeship certificate in vocational air conditioning and refrigeration repair; completed and felicitated basic HIV/AIDS course sponsored by the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York, completed an 8-week legal research course and completed an 8-week Aggression Replacement Training course, which I then went on to facilitate. In 2004, I completed the basic and advance Alternative to Violence Project (AVP) workshops and became an AVP facilitator while also coordinating and facilitating HIV/AIDS course for the Prison for AIDS Council and Education program. In June 2016, I completed the Certificate in Ministries and Human Services Program, a one-year pre-college program I've been completed Breaking Barriers, Men's Health, Basic Parenting and Healthy Relationship/Healthy Marriages, all Osborne Association-sponsored therapeutic programs. In 2007, the Osborne Association selected me to be a member of its New York State Children With Incarcerated Parents Initiative, a group that brainstorms with family court judges, lawyers and children advocates on the importance of safely maintaining relationships between children and incarcerated parents; I remain an active member of the group today, Osborne also chose me to participate in a panel discussion that helped the producers of Sesame Street create Alex, a Sesame Street character with an incarcerated parent. Along the way, I taught myself French and Spanish; call wrote a proposal for a Basic Chinese Mandarin Language Class, affording others in sing sing the opportunity to learn a foreign language, became managing editor for the Sing Sing Chronicle; and joined the Rehabilitation Through the Arts, a program that utilizes the Arts to teach life skills. The New Path episode helped me relate better to others and improve my relationships with friends, family members, prisoners, and prison staff and administration. It directs result of my transformation was my November 2007 marriage to Michelle who has since been my best friend. When we married, her two children Paul and Kaylea, came with the package and I relished the opportunity to be a husband and a father figure despite my incarceration. Fortunately, Paul and Kaylea afforded me that opportunity. On May 15, 2010 Paul and Kaylea's father, Patrick Scott, was stabbed to death by his girlfriend. Having to console my wife and stepchildren over Patrick Scott's violent death magnified Patrick Niles death. Until then I constantly remind myself that I did not kill Patrick Niles. However, May 15th 2010 gave me a first-hand view of the impact that violence has on the family members left to survive the loss of a loved one. The fact that Kaylea and Paul's father was also named Patrick did not escape me, and I decided it was no coincidence that two Patricks had deeply impacted my life. Since then, I have tried to be the best person I can be and do all I can to stop all forms of violence, both inside and outside of prison. In 2002, I participated in a debate involving Nyack students and incarcerated Mercy college students in the spirit of Bridging the Gap between inside and and outside collegiate communities. In 2013, I earned a bachelor's degree in Behavioral Science (Mercy College) in 2013 and in 2014 a master in professional studies through (New York Theological Seminary). I remain academically involved by tutoring pre-college and college students do partly to my history of tutoring others, I was chosen to feature in “First Degree,” a PBS/Hudson link documentary that showcases how education in prison can be transformational. When Hudson Link coordinated the first ever Tedx event inside a New York State prison with the theme of creating Healthy Communities, the event curators chose me to be the emcee. In furtherance of my education, I completed the Blackstone paralegal certificate program in October 2016. I continue my volunteer endeavors as a member of the Forgotten voices committee, which raised $8,000 in prisoner donated funds to sponsor a gun back; the Voice From Within Group, which produced a documentary aim to reduce youth gun violence; and the youth assistance program, where is members meet regularly with court affected Community youth to share our experiences in the hopes of preventing young people from making poor decisions. Finally, Nele Dehnenkamp, and young filmmaker from Germany interested in documenting the impact of incarceration on family members selected Michelle and me to feature in her latest film, Down the River. I hope this small sample of how I use my time speaks to my dedication towards transformation and Rehabilitation. I believe my commitment to Progressive activities and being of service to others, wild only incarcerated, demonstrate that I am not a threat to society and have taken steps to atone for my past life. For the more, my experiences, education, newly-acquired skills, and work ethics show that given the opportunity, I will be able to find and maintain gainful employment while also serving as a positive influence on young people. We call on Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office to Free Jermaine Archer for the following reasons:1. There is overwhelming evidence that Jermaine is innocent of the crime he is incarcerated for;2. He has demonstrated unparallel growth and transformation while incarcerated; 3. He has a family that needs him and whose lives continue to be negatively affected by his continued wrongful incarceration;4. In today’s climate of youth violence, our community needs positive role models with the education and experience to guide our young people away from the street life and toward success. We know Jermaine is prepared and eager to fill that role. For these reasons, we actively support the immediate release of Jermaine Archer and call upon the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office to Free Jermaine Archer so that he can return to our society and become that much needed asset, role model, and example that our young generation so greatly needs. Why Jermaine Archer’s Conviction Should Be Overturned: The evidence of Jermaine’s innocence is strong:a. Two eyewitnesses testified at trial that they saw another man shoot Patrick Niles;b. Several eyewitnesses who were never called to testify observed another man shoot at the car as it passed and gave statements identifying that man a the shooter;c. The man identified a the shooter by the other witnesses later confessed to the crime and, when picked up by police, pled his Fifth Amendment right to all questions posed to him;d. Two other eyewitnesses gave pre-trial statements that they did not see the shooting but were talking through their window with Jermaine, who was urinating against the building, at the time of the shooting. The evidence against Jermaine is weak:a. The verdict is supported solely by one-witness’s testimony. The witness, Carlos Bethune, gave four sworn statements, first admitting he did not see the shooting because it happened too fast, then identify Jermaine as the shooter, then recanting and admitting he had blamed Jermaine to a prior incident, the had been pressured by the District Attorney to blame Jermaine, and he was never sure who shot his friend because the shooting happened too fast; and finally accusing Jermaine again;b. There is no credible evidence, no other evidence at all against Jermaine because he is innocent of the crime that has so far cost him 19 years of his life.