Monday, February 28, 2011

Execution Date Set For Mark Stroman

Mark Stroman has received an execution date for July 20, 2011. He is not a sympathetic person, as he committed a hate crime against an Arab man in retaliation for 9-11. Read more about him on his web page.

He now realizes that his crime was wrong:
I can not tell you that I am an innocent man. I am not asking you to feel sorry for me and I won’t hide the truth. I am a human being and made a terrible mistake out of love, grief and anger, and believe me I am paying for it every single minute of the day and it haunts me in my sleep as well.  

September 11th, 2001 I lost my sister in the World Trade Center. I remember sitting at home watching the nightmare on TV. And knowing she was on the top floors of the North Tower…  Let’s just say that I could not think clearly anymore and I am sorry to say I made innocent people pay for my rage, anger, grief and loss. I have destroyed my victim’s families as well as my own. Out of pure anger and stupidity I did some things to some men from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia - and now I sit on Death Row awaiting execution. And by no means am I proud of what I have done.
Here are his words from something he write on Jan. 19, 2002.  
. . . this was not a crime of hate but an act of Passion and Patriotism, an act of country and commitment, an act of retribution and recompense. The was not done during Peace time but at War time. I, Mark Anthony Stroman, felt a need to exact some measure of equality and fairness for the thousands of victims of September 11th, 2001, for the United States of America and it’s people, The People of this Great Country. GOD BLESS AMERICA

You can read the whole statement at:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Register for the 2011 Statewide Texas Lobby Day Against the Death Penalty and "Day of Innocence" - March 16

State Rep Harold Dutton at 2005 Lobby Day
The 2011 Statewide Texas Lobby Day Against the Death Penalty and "Day of Innocence" is Wednesday, March 16. Special guests include death row exonerees Anthony Graves, Clarence Brandley, Ron Keine, Shujaa Graham, Gary Drinkard and Albert Burrell. 

People from across Texas will come to the Capitol in Austin to advocate for an end to the death penalty and other reforms that would impact the Texas death penalty, including a package of innocence bills, a bill for a moratorium on executions and commission to study the death penalty system, a bill to require separate trials in death penalty cases and a separate bill that would prohibit death sentences for people convicted under the Law of Parties who do not kill anyone.

Below is the schedule for Lobby Day. We will announce rooms later. Please register for Lobby Day, so that we know how many people are coming and so that we can schedule legislative appointments. In 2009 our Lobby Day resulted in several legislators signing on to support the bills we lobbied for. We expect the same success in 2011. We have held a Lobby Day every session since 2003. Also participating in the Lobby Day will be students from the Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break.

If you can not attend the Lobby Day, you can still help by making a donation (not tax-deductible).  Also on March 16, even if you are not in Austin at the Lobby Day, you can call your Texas legislators and let them know your position on the death penalty and urge them to support a moratorium on executions.

Schedule for the Statewide Texas Lobby Day Against the Death Penalty and "Day of Innocence" - March 16, 2011

8 :00 - 9:00 AM Check-in and Meet and Greet at the Texas Capitol. Legislators, staff members, everyone coming to Austin for the Lobby Day and anyone at the capitol and the general public is welcome to attend and meet death row exonerees Anthony Graves, Clarence Brandley, Shujaa Graham, Ron Keine, Gary Drinkard and Albert Burrell who all spent many years on death row for crimes they did not commit.

9 - 10 AM Lobby Training. People coming only for Lobby Day will be trained and given assignments. People who received training before Lobby Day can begin lobbying.   Location: Room TBA in the Texas Capitol.

Sometime during the day while the House and Senate are in session the death row exonerees may be recognized and honored with a resolution in the Texas House and/or Senate. Participants in the "Day of Innocence" Lobby Day may also be recognized from the gallery of the House and/or the Senate.

10 AM - Noon Visit legislative offices to lobby and invite legislators and staff to the afternoon panel discussion with death row exonerees.

Noon - 1 PM Lunch on your own. There is a cafeteria in the Texas Capitol.

1 - 2 PM Press conference in Texas House Speaker's Committee Room 2W.6 at Texas Capitol with death row exonerees and others.

2 - 3 Lobbying visits to legislative offices.
3:00 - 4:30 PM Panel Discussion on Innocence and the Death Penalty with death row exonerees, Location: room TBA in the Texas Capitol. Panelists and guests include exonerees Anthony Graves, Clarence Brandley, Shujaa Graham, Ron Keine, Gary Drinkard and Albert Burrell who are all innocent people who spent many years on death row for crimes they did not commit.
4:30:- 5:00 Set up for rally and final legislative office visits.

5:30 - 7:30   "Day of Innocence" Statewide Rally Against the Death Penalty on the South Steps of the Texas Capitol.  
Rally Speakers and other special guests include death row exonerees Anthony Graves, Clarence Brandley, Shujaa Graham, Ron Keine, Gary Drinkard and Albert Burrell; Renny Cushing of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights; a couple of young people participating in the Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break; plus others.

Lobby Day has been organized since 2003 by several organizations working together, the same ones who also organize the annual "March to Abolish the Death Penalty" each October: Texas Moratorium Network, Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Campaign to End the Death Penalty - Austin chapter, Texas Students Against the Death Penalty. Organizations that would like to participate or co-sponsor the Lobby Day can email or call 512-961-6389.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Execution Watch: Timothy Adams

Feb. 22, 2011, Tuesday, 6-7 PM CT
Listen in Houston: KPFT 90.1 FM
LIsten worldwide: > “Listen," or > HD1


  TIMOTHY ADAMS, 42, condemned in the 2002 shooting death of his infant son in Houston following a standoff with police after his wife threatened to divorce him. A jury sentenced Adams to death after he entered a surprise guilty plea to capital murder as his trial was about to start. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Friday rejected a clemency request from family members and three of the jurors who had voted for his execution. More background at > Backpage on Timothy Adams.
  Host: RAY HILL, an ex-convict who has lost a dozen friends to the death chamber. Ray’s civil rights activism has included shepherding several cases to the U.S. Supreme Court. He founded, and hosted for 30 years, KPFT’s Prison Show, .
  Legal Analyst: JIM SKELTON, a legal educator and retired attorney, Jim is a native Texan who has seen capital trials from the prosecution table and the defense table.

  Featured Interview: ANTHONY GRAVES. Declared innocent last year in the 1992 slayings of six members of a family in Burleson County, he is free following 18 years in prison, including 12 on Texas death row. Graves was denied an estimated $1.4 million in compensation recently by the Texas Comptrollers Office because the order freeing him did not include the word "innocent."

  Reporter, Death House, Huntsville: GLORIA RUBAC, leader of the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement and long-time activist against the death penalty, .

  Reporter, Texas Vigil: TBA. 

  On April 5, Texas plans to execute former military recruiter CLEVE "SARGE" FOSTER. If that happens, Execution Watch will broadcast.

  PRODUCER: Elizabeth Ann Stein, eliza.tx.usa
  TECHNICAL DIRECTOR: Otis Maclay, omaclay
  THEME: “Death by Texas,” Victoria Panetti,

Saturday, February 19, 2011

February 22, 2011 is "Texas for Illinois Day" to Repeal the Death Penalty!

Call Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and urge him to sign the bill to end the death penalty.

Chicago Office: 312-814-2121. Springfield Office: 217-782-0244

Texans are planning to help convince Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to abolish the death penalty in Illinois. On Tuesday, February 22, 2011, Texans will be calling the Governor of Illinois to urge him to sign the bill to repeal the death penalty.

If Illinois abolishes the death penalty, it will have a major impact in other death penalty states, including Texas. Illinois started with a moratorium on executions in 2000 and now Illinois may abolish the death penalty with just a signature from the governor.

Illinois is just one signature away from becoming the 16th state without the death penalty. The General Assembly passed legislation to repeal the death penalty on January 11, 2011. Now the bill is awaiting Governor Pat Quinn's signature.

Governor Quinn has said he encourages people with opinions to contact his office. In the past, he has indicated support for the death penalty, while also expressing concerns about the problems with the system. You can remind him that regardless of his position on the death penalty, Illinois’ history has made it clear that the system is broken. Illinois legislators decided the system can’t be fixed, so they voted to repeal the death penalty. Illinois can no longer afford to keep the costly and error-ridden death penalty.

Please call Governor Quinn to tell him you want him to sign the death penalty repeal bill.

You can say, "I want to encourage Gov. Quinn to sign the legislation to end the death penalty."

Chicago Office - 312-814-2121

Springfield Office - 217-782-0244

If you don't get through to a person or voicemail, please try again.

The Governor's staff won't ask you for reasons (they only want to know if you support or oppose), but if you'd like talking points or more information, visit the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty website.

The Texas groups participating in the "Texas for Illinois Day" have set a goal to confirm at least 200 calls to Governor Quinn’s office. We need you to let us know you made the call.

After you call, and you can even call both numbers, please send a quick email to ( or leave a comment on the facebook event page with the word “CONNECTED” in the subject line if you actually spoke with someone, and “VOICEMAIL” if you were able to leave a message. If you get a busy signal, please keep trying until you connect with either a person or leave a message. If anything interesting happens with your calls, please be sure to let us know so that we can pass that on to our colleagues in Illinois.

We encourage any and all Texas groups to participate in the "Texas for Illinois Day", even ones that don't primarily work on the death penalty issue, as long as your group wants to help convince the Illinois governor to sign the repeal bill. Currently, the groups participating include Texas Moratorium Network, Campaign to End the Death Penalty - Austin chapter, Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Texas Students Against the Death Penalty, Campaign to End the Death Penalty - Denton chapter, and Texas Death Penalty Education and Resource Center.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lobbying at the Capitol with Family of Kenneth Foster Jr for Bill to Require Separate Trials in Capital Trials

Texas Moratorium Network's Scott Cobb and Hooman Hedayati of Witness to Innocence went to the Texas Capitol on Feb 16, 2011 with Lawrence Foster and Kenneth Foster Sr (grandfather and father of Kenneth Foster, Jr) to meet with legislators about a bill to require separate rials in capital cases. See photos here. Kenneth Foster Jr's death sentence was commuted to life in prison in 2007. He had been convicted and sentenced to death in a dual trial with his co-defendant. Governor Rick Perry said at the time of commuting the death sentence that the Legislature should take up the issue of requiring separate trials in death penalty cases. Perry said the dual trial issue was the reason he commuted the death sentence of Foster.

We also went with the Fosters to speak to Danielle Dirks' capital punishment class at UT-Austin.

And while at the capitol, we met the family of Tim Adams as they were meeting legislators to urge support for clemency for Tim, who is scheduled for execution in Texas Feb 22, 2011. They had earlier in the day held a press conference at the capitol to urge clemency for Timothy Adams.

Death Penalty Focus: Student Essay Contest

2nd Annual Essay Contest Sponsored by THE INLAND VALLEY CHAPTER of Death Penalty Focus

Execute Justice, Not People
Why California Must Find an Alternative to the Death Penalty

“In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.” -Thurgood Marshall

The Fine Print…

1. You must be a Middle School, High School, Undergraduate or Graduate student in the state of California.

2. All submissions should be sent via e-mail or mail to Sharyn Webb
at  or 774 Chatham Court, Claremont CA 91711.

3. E-mailed submissions must be a word or PDF document. Email Subject: “Student Essay Contest.”

4. No essays will be accepted without an accompanying submission form.

5. Format: Typed, font size 12, double spaced

6. Length:
College level - three to five pages
Middle and High School level - two to three pages

Submission Deadline: March 31, 2011
Winners will be notified by: April 15, 2011
Awards will be presented at a special event on: April 30, 2011
Second and third prizes awarded at judges’ discretion.
Winning essays will be published.

One of the most crucial decisions our state of California must make is whether or not to eliminate the death penalty in favor of life without parole. Most recently, in March 2009, New Mexico joined the fourteen other states which have made that legal change.

“In the fall of 2009…The American Law Institute, which created the intellectual framework for the modern capital justice system almost fifty years ago, pronounced it a failure… The institute is made up of 4,000 judges, lawyers and law professors.” New York Times, January 5, 2010 Many of our Supreme Court justices, law enforcement officers and prosecuting attorneys who once supported the death penalty have changed their minds. Polls show that two thirds of Californians now prefer life without parole over the death sentence.

Your essay should explore why our state must eliminate the death penalty and what the possible alternatives are.

It will be judged for clarity of writing, research, creativity, uniqueness of approach, persuasive arguments and adherence to rules and deadlines.


$300 - 1st
$150 - 2nd
$75 - 3rd

$300 - 1st
$150 - 2nd
$75 - 3rd

$300 - 1st
$150 - 2nd
$75 - 3rd

$300 - 1st
$150 - 2nd
$75 - 3rd

Any questions? Please call Sharyn at 909-392-0020

Student Essay Contest Winners - 2010 - Inland Valley Chapter
Middle School

1st - Melissa Spangler
2nd - Ashwin Balaji
3rd - Roshan Plamthottam

High School

1st - Nicholas Morton
2nd - Tran Tsan
3rd - Colin Domonoske

1st - Sara Eller
2nd - Rachel KottKamp

Graduate School

1st - Caycie Bradford

Honorary Award

Cathy Sarinana

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rob Will: Egypt and Life on Death-Row

                                “All art worthy of the name is a reminder, in one way
                                or another, that to be true to ourselves, we must transcend
                                our human nature. The traditional painter thus depicts
                                the face of a man with human features subtly but distinctly
                                transfigured; and in a parallel way, at the hands of a
                                traditional architect, stones are seen to lose their heaviness,
                                and to become vibrant with the spirit.”
                                                     - Abu Bakr Siraj Ad-Din, Symbol and Archetype

Egypt: pure beauty and brilliance! I’ve always been inspired when hearing of righteous social struggle but what is happening in Egypt is absolutely phenomenal. I heard a commentator—who is a professor who specializes in Middle-Eastern politics—state that the revolution in Egypt is the most significant event to happen in the Middle East in the last 100years. I don’t know if I agree with that assertion, but the events unfolding in Egypt are indeed surely one of the absolute most meaningful events to occur in the last century in the Middle East and the entire Arab world.

Earlier I heard a report from the journalist and author Robert Fisk in which he talked about an event he witnessed in Tahrir Square. The protesters were holding strong with the Egyptian army posted up at the entrance to the Square. There has been much talk of the role of the army in the current sociopolitical situation. While a dichotomy can be drawn between the army and the centralized Mubarak government there are indeed important and undeniable links between the two. I don’t know why the media hasn’t been talking about this, but Mubarak is the product of the Egyptian military; he was the head of the Air Force before becoming president. Well, the role of the military in the current situation seems to be very conflicted, unclear and constantly evolving.

So, Robert Fisk—who is a brilliant journalist by the way—watched a young soldier sitting on top of an army tank. He looked overwhelmed with conflicting emotions and then he suddenly burst into tears and jumped down from the tank and threw his arms around one of the protesters. Beautiful!

This reminded me of something that happened here a few years ago. This was back when Tony Egbuna Ford had an execution date and we were both engaged in a campaign of non-violent direct action protest against Warden Hirsch—or Director Hirsch as Reginald [Blanton, executed Oct. 2009] used to call him—or Tyrant Hirsch as Kenneth [Foster] used to call him—came up with the brilliant super-security cell right above Egbuna. Why do oppressive individuals in positions of power always engage in actions that are counterproductive to their interests?—All this did was greatly advance our protest strategy.

One day I committed a peaceful direct action and was repeatedly hit with Crowd Control Riot Gas and left completely naked in an empty cell. Shift change came and a younger officer who had been here for probably three years came by doing count. I was out of the cell at the very end of the run. “Name and Number…alright,” Knock, knock. “Hey, wake up, count time, name and number; O.K.” and on down the run she went until she got to my cell:

Officer: Name and—what the hell, Will? Why don’t you have any clothes on,
               don’t you hear me doing count?

Me: Well, yes, of course I do but I don’t have any clothes to wear because they
        gassed me earlier and the good officers on first shift seemed to think I didn’t
        need any other clothes after they ripped the gas-covered ones off me! Or,
        well, actually the C.O.s were going to give me some but the ever-so-
        benevolent Warden Hirsch wouldn’t allow them to.

Officer: Uh, O.K., I was about to say I’ve never known you to disrespect any
              women officers. I heard about someone getting gassed but I thought that
              was on F-pod….

Then, she went on a bit of a tirade about how she was tired of all the “protest bullshit”, tired of the extra work and all of the supervisors getting onto the C.O.s. Quite a Kafkaesque scene unfolded: There I was covered in riot gas viciously burning up, completely naked. The officer standing in front of my cell with her clipboard, paperwork and pen and we began debating about the protest we were engaged in and the death penalty. She was spewing forth a bunch of the typical nonsense:
“Y’all just need to follow the rules and the death penalty is the law, etc., etc., etc.” I kept combating all of her illogical points with valid counterpoints and of course, cognitive dissonance ensued followed by rationalization.

My comrade Gabriel [Gonzalez] calls what I do “gettin’ my white Malcolm X on”—Perhaps a “Carl Rogers-esque, humanistic, Jungian, White Malcolm X” or something. I don’t know but I do know how to talk to people. At one point she was particularly worked up, thrusting her pen into her clipboard to emphasize an exclamatory word but I cut her off mid-sentence with something like this: “I don’t think in your heart and mind you really believe half of what you just said, but I’ll tell you what—when you go downstairs to do count I want you to look at Tony Ford. That man is scheduled to die soon; you’ve seen his mom out there at visitation, she’s a good woman who loves her son. Tony has a solid innocence claim, but even if he is not innocent, in the years that you have been here you’ve seen how Ford is. He doesn’t act like an idiot, doesn’t harass y’all female officers, he’s a good dude. When you go down there LOOK at him, he’s a human being, just like you; Look at him not as a last name and TOC number but as a person.”

I do believe this was said in a rather impassioned manner. I think I was expecting a Rush Limbaugh-esque ranting response but that is not what happened. She was completely still and just looked at me in complete silence. One, two, three, maybe four seconds passed and then she started crying. Crying? This seems rather absurd but I guess this was the immediate response I had to, having someone crying in front of
me: “I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.” And choking back her tears she said, “I, I just can’t work here anymore” and left. I think what happened with the Egyptian Army officer and the correction officer, represent a very similar cathartic experience. Even when people have been heavily indoctrinated by an oppressive system they can still be reached. There is hope for almost anyone. The human experience is a collective experience shared by all and most people can internalize this realization.

There are so many beautiful things happening in Egypt. This is a true grassroots movement, a genuine non-violent revolution. The Mubarak thugs have been attacking the peaceful protesters with stones. I heard one report where a journalist came upon an area in Tahrir Square where a huge pile of the stones were piled up surrounded by peaceful protesters who were chanting, “Peacefully! Peacefully” We must protest peacefully!” A Life and resistance to oppression is a Life of Art and Humanity is the canvas. And on this canvas stones can be made to lose their heaviness and to become vibrant with the Spirit; a transformational Spirit, the Spirit of a Living Love for one’s fellow man, for humanity. The spirit of the Egyptian people, the spirit of those who look to the horizon of the future to see a better, a more just, and a more Human world.


Rob Will

You can find out about Rob’s case at or

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Execution Watch: Texas Budget Crisis Won't Stop Executions

By Elizabeth Stein
Producer, Execution Watch

Texas is contemplating slashing vital services to its most vulnerable citizens to close a budget gap estimated at up to $27 billion, but it still plans to go through Tuesday with an execution that represents an expenditure of $2.3 million above what it would have cost to imprison Michael Wayne Hall for the rest of his life.
Execution Watch will provide live coverage and analysis of Hall's execution.
To put the Texas death penalty in economic perspective, no state came close in 2010 to Texas's 17 executions and the accompanying taxpayer surcharge of more than $40 million.
The show may be heard worldwide by going to at 6 p.m. Central Time and clicking on "Listen," or by going to and selecting HD3.
  MICHAEL WAYNE HALL, 31, sentenced to death in the 1998 kidnapping and fatal shooting of a woman in Arlington. Hall's attorney tried to save him from the gurney by asking a federal court to reconsider previous rulings that Hall is not retarded and to adopt new definitions of mental retardation. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional the execution of the mentally retarded. Hall's co-defendant Robert Neville was executed in 2006. More background is at > Backpage on Michael Wayne Hall.

  Host: RAY HILL, an ex-convict who has lost a dozen friends to the death chamber. Ray’s civil rights activism has included shepherding several cases to the U.S. Supreme Court. He founded, and hosted for 30 years, KPFT’s Prison Show, .
  Legal Analyst: JIM SKELTON. A native Texan, Jim is a retired attorney and popular legal educator. As an attorney, he has sat at the prosecutor's and the defense attorney's table in capital cases.

  Featured Interview: RUSSELL G. MURPHY, Author of Voices of the Death Penalty Debate: A Citizens Guide to Capital Punishment, Prof. Murphy has taught for more than 30 years at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. His book seeks to illuminate many facets of capital punishment through testimony from hearings in 2004 and 2005 on whether the death penalty should be reinstated in New York State. The state decided against reinstatement.
  Reporter, Death House, Huntsville: GLORIA RUBAC, leader of the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement and long-time activist against the death penalty, .

  Reporter, Vigil: TBA. 

  On, Feb. 22, Texas plans to execute TIMOTHY ADAMS. If that happens, Execution Watch will broadcast. Details:

  TECHNICAL DIRECTOR: Otis Maclay, omaclay
  THEME: “Death by Texas,” Victoria Panetti,

Thursday, February 10, 2011

NAACP LDF Joins Mumia Abu-Jamal Defense Team

A “Free Mumia” protester outside the NAACP's 2009 convention
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)
The following is the press release issued by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund:

Related Case or Issue: 

LDF Joins Mumia Abu-Jamal Defense Team

(New York, NY) --On January 28, 2011, Mumia Abu-Jamal retained the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) to represent him in the ongoing appeal of his capital murder conviction and death sentence.  LDF will serve as co-counsel in the case with Judy Ritter, Esq., of Widener Law School in Wilmington, Delaware, who has represented Mr. Abu-Jamal since 2003.

Mr. Abu-Jamal is the world’s best known death-row prisoner.  His case has attracted attention from around the world and he is widely viewed as a symbol of the racial injustices of the death penalty.

“Mumia Abu-Jamal’s conviction and death sentence are relics of a time and place that was notorious for police abuse and racial discrimination,” said John Payton, Director-Counsel of LDF.  “Unless and until courts acknowledge and correct these historic injustices, death sentences like Mr. Abu-Jamal’s will invite continued skepticism of the criminal justice system by the African American community.”

Mr. Abu-Jamal is on death row in Pennsylvania for the 1981 murder of a police officer in Philadelphia.  His death sentence was vacated in 2001 after the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found constitutional error in the jury instructions and verdict form used in his 1982 penalty phase.  That decision was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 2008 but then sent back to the Third Circuit by the United States Supreme Court in 2010 for further review. 

Christina Swarns, Director of LDF’s Criminal Justice Project explained that, “LDF seeks to sweep the grave injustices embodied in this case into the dustbin of history and, in so doing, give communities of color reason to believe that they can and will receive equal justice in Pennsylvania courtrooms.”

Mr. Abu-Jamal’s appeal is currently pending before the Third Circuit.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. is America's premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans. LDF also defends the gains and protections won over the past 70 years of civil rights struggle and works to improve the quality and diversity of judicial and executive appointments.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Grievance Filed Against Sharon Keller with State Bar of Texas

A civil rights group is asking the state to revoke the law license of a judge who has been a lightning rod in debates over the death penalty.
The Austin-based Texas Civil Rights Project filed a grievance Wednesday with the State Bar of Texas against Justice Sharon Keller, the presiding judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals, saying she is unfit to retain her license to practice law. Records show Keller has been licensed since graduating from SMU's law school in 1978.
The group alleges she is untrustworthy and dishonest, citing:
A review by the Texas Ethics Commission that found she failed to disclose several sources of income, as required by law.
Her refusal in 2007 to keep the court open after 5 p.m. at the request of lawyers drafting an appeal on behalf of death row inmate Michael Richard, who was executed that evening.
Statements she made in a federal lawsuit filed by Richard's widow that purportedly contradict what she told the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
Keller, who recently said she'd seek reelection in 2012, had no comment. Her lawyer, Chip Babcock, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The state Commission on Judicial Conduct, which publicly warned her after investigating her actions on the day Richards was executed, also had no comment.
In April, the Texas Ethics Commission fined Keller a record $100,000 for failing to report stock, honoraria and more than $2.4 million in real estate holdings on her 2007 and 2008 personal financial disclosure statements. Keller filed amended reports with the commission in 2009 after news reports revealed her missing holdings.
In a statement filed with the amended reports, Keller said her father made investments for her and her son without her knowledge.
In 2009, the judicial conduct commission filed misconduct charges against Keller and issued her a “public warning.” The disciplinary body said she brought discredit to the judiciary by closing the court to Richard's appeals in 2007 just hours before he was executed.
In October, a special panel of three Republican judges said the commission issued her the wrong discipline, but the panel did not set aside the commission's misconduct findings.
Richard's widow, Marsha Richard, sued Keller in federal court in Austin in 2007. Keller argued that she acted in her judicial capacity in refusing to keep the courthouse open for Michael Richard's appeal, which made her immune to a lawsuit. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel dismissed the case in 2008.
But in front of the judicial conduct commission, Keller claimed she had acted in an administrative capacity, not in a judicial role.
“As the documents included in the grievance demonstrate, Judge Keller's statements before the federal court and her statements to the (conduct) commission were in complete contradiction of each other,” said Jim Harrington, executive director of the Texas Civil Rights Project. “The important thing is she was under oath for both.”
Marsha Richard's lawyer, Randall Kallinen, said Keller wrongly used the two hats to her advantage, and her credibility suffered.
“Judges should not be allowed to argue two opposite positions in two different tribunals to their advantage because it erodes the people's confidence in the judiciary,” Kallinen said. “It contradicts the public's perception of fairness towards all parties regardless of the party's high status.”\\\

New Hell Hole News #27

Sunday January 30th, 2011

Hey y’all. Well, we had oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court on October 13th, 2010. So one way or another we’re making history, here. When I sat down and figured out how to file this civil rights suit against D.A. Switzer (and, let me say right here too, I did not do all the figuring; my attorneys deserve most of the credit. I came up with the structural frame of the claim. The basics of what I wanted to do. But they are the real architects and engineers making this plane fly).

Speaking of planes flying, on 11.24.10, the day before Thanksgiving and 8 months to the day after my execution date (NDE 03.24.10) the private attorney representing D.A. Lyn Switzer, Greg Coleman, was flying his mother-in-law and her brother to meet Coleman’s wife and other family for Thanksgiving in Destin, Florida when he crashed and burned 1500 ft out in the water from shore, killing him and everyone on board. There have been a lot of strange deaths associated with my case over the years. As one attorney recently noted on Scotusblog, the case has been brutal. I think Coleman’s mishap was his own making; he’d apparently been running on 16+hr workdays for years and only 3-4 hours of sleep a night. I think he was just too stressed out and suffering exhaustion. After reading all the news articles and NTSB findings on the crash, I’m convinced that’s what happened. There seemed to be no indication of mechanical failure so that leaves only weather conditions (sea fog low and heavy) and pilot error.

This guy had written some really hateful and very untruthful stuff in his brief in the Supreme Court about me. I was really hot at him and beaming some bad and upset feelings at him. I think any agent of the state should adhere to a higher level of honor and integrity than to lodge arguments with the nation’s highest court (or any court) that are patently false; full of guile, deceit, sleight of hand and treachery. But, now he’s dead and I feel really bad for being mad at him. Some days I think I really am crazy as hell: this man tried to help usher my death for a crime I didn’t commit yet I feel bad for him. I feel really bad for his poor wife and kids, who are now without a husband and the kids are gonna grow up without their dad.

Had to get that outta my system and off my chest! It’s been eatin’ my lunch. It still is. I cannot reconcile in my mind how a guy who was supposed to be such a great advocate of the downtrodden, a wonderful husband and father, could stoop to the levels he did, to write the kind of malicious stuff he did in his briefs in my case.

I’m tired of talkin’ about my innocence and my case; and all the associated effluvia and errata it’s generated. 17+ years. I’m tired. Exhausted.

Hey check this out: what if you were technically guilty as hell of capital murder as it is described in the statutes but totally justified morally, physically and in actuality? What if you could say, I had not choice. It was self-defense. Do it or die myself. I did it, I’m not the least bit remorseful, nor should I be; if I had to do it over again, I’d do exactly the same. I’m about to relate to you three such cases.

The first is Rogelio Reyes Cannady #99245 who was executed May 19th, 2010. RIP Roy. We called him “Cowboy Roy” because at one time, every time the police tried to get him out of his cell, he thought it was rodeo season. I spent a lot of time ridin’ with Roy after he first came to D.R. in December 1997. We ended up in solitary together at Ellis and were the first two off the bus when they began to transfer us over here to Polunsky. Roy was like my own personal guide because he’d been locked up in a succession of these 2250 prototype SHU supermaxes TX had constructed all over the state. This place is so different from Ellis and all they had over here was ad seg and they were aggravated all to hell – “agg” – so were the bosses (officers). Psych patients, feces slingers, etc.

Roy was one of the best people I have ever met in my years on death row. Just a real solid dude on all four corners, head-to-toe. He was thrown in prison for a crime he didn’t commit – a crime which was actually committed by a cop’s son and the cop framed Roy. Years later, when this cop learned of Roy’s fate, he made some tapes where he confessed how he framed Roy and set him up, then shot himself, committed suicide. Roy’s case was tragic. He was a juvenile certified as an adult, given a life sentence and thrown in prison with grown men twice his size. But Roy learned how to fight and he survived. He had a particular hatred for the police and whipped guards relentlessly.

They got tired of him beating up the officers and they set him up, more or less. They put him in a cell with a known booty bandit named Bonal. Roy was a small fellow who had a lot of heart. Bonal started coming on to Roy. Roy told him point blank he wasn’t into homosexuality. Roy was sick with the flue and in a weakened state. He feared if he fell asleep this guy Bonal would try to tie him down and rape him. Bonal attacked Roy. Roy had his belt wrapped around his hand, threaded through two combination locks.

They fought. Bonal was twice Roy’s size and outweighed him by a considerable margin. Despite being the underdog, Roy prevailed and killed Bonal. He was locked in a cell and literally fighting for his life and for his ass. If you snitch or get “turned out” (raped) in prison, you lose respect and all the sharks will attack you and take you for everything you’ve got. So Roy quite literally had no choice in the world except to do what he did. The state of TX put Roy in that position, then killed him over it. What’s even worse is Roy should never have been in prison to start with. And more than that, the law they used to kill him wasn’t even in effect when Roy killed Bonal; it was applied to him years later, ex post facto, which is illegal. But this is Texas! As if that makes it ok.

The second case is similar. Leet Taylor who we call “Tiny” #99344. Tiny is a ‘wood that was known by the prisoners at the time but not the prison administration. Tiny was convicted as a juvenile, certified to stand trial as an adult just like Rogelio. Tiny was placed on a cellblock full of Blacks. Some day it was intentional. Tiny had a reputation as someone who would stand up and fight no matter what. Some units in Texas are racially segregated. Tensions stay high. Violence can erupt any second. So when these dudes cliqued on Tiny, he had literally no help. They told him, at breakfast when they roll the doors, “it’s on”.

At Tiny’s trial the state faulted him for “not notifying any officer and alerting him to the potential trouble” sot they could’ve got him out of harm’s way. That would’ve certainly got Tiny killed. It’s called snitching and catching out. i.e. telling it and running. In Texas (or any prison) if you tell it, you got a jacket (reputation) as a snitch. Catch outs are considered cowards and become targets of the strong arms (extortionists) and booty bandits (rapists). No prisoner in his right mind is going to “notify” or “alert” any officer. That’s an instant death sentence of an excruciating kind. Also you gotta figure it was the laws (ranking officers) who got you assigned to this Black cellblock and since they don’t do anything without a purpose, they must’ve intended for this result to occur. What good’s it gonna do to tell them anything? They are not going to help you. They’d just laugh and tell you som’ like “you got yourself in it, get yourself out”.

When it went down, Tiny defended himself – they brought it to him, he didn’t instigate anything. He prevailed against the guys who attacked him and ended up killing one of them. All of this happened only because Tiny was misclassified and put in a situation where he didn’t belong. Texas did that to him and now they’re trying to kill him for it.

What’s worse in Tiny’s case is the underlying case he was serving time for that put him in prison was committed as a juvenile. The U.S. Supreme Court has outlawed the execution as punishment for a crime committed as a juvenile. In Texas, this underlying conviction is what was used to elevate the murder he committed in prison to capital murder. Tiny was doing life for aggravated robbery. Under TX law that’s what’s known as a 3rd degree offense. The law says that if you’re serving time for a 3rd degree offense and kill someone in prison, it’s capital murder. That law was meant to deter willfully aggressive
prisoners, not those setup by circumstance or intent as both Rogelio (Roy) or Lee (Tiny) were. Both of these cases were just bad prosecutions by overly zealous prosecutors posing and posturing to look “tough on crime” in the Bush era. Rogelio is dead. Tiny is not, yet. His case is in the U.S. Supreme Court (S.Ct or SCOTUS) just like mine, but they’ve not agreed to hear his case, yet. Let’s pray they do. It stands to reason that if you can’t kill a man for a crime committed as juvenile, you likewise cannot kill him for one which is used to elevate a later crime to capital murder; because either way, you’re still killing a guy for a crime committed as a juvenile, right? Exactly.

Wouldn’t you know, I saved the best for last! None of them are best; they’re all bad really. But this last case I’m about to relate to you is the wildest thing I’ve heard in awhile. Texas has a reputation to over-the-top, hot-doggin’, abusive cops. But this one really takes the cake.

Meet office Nix. “Psycho Nix”. Aptly so called. Officer Nix here is a Dallas cop who has a habit of jerking citizens off the sidewalk and slamming on their faces (Anthony Williams, 14 years old, 08.23.06) and shooting people he don’t like just because they’re scared of him and running from the abuse he threatens (Raquel Sosa and Jesus Ortiz. On July 21st 2002, Nix chased them on foot into a big drainage pipe over a mere traffic violation. When they emerged from the other end, Nix drew a bead on Ortiz while cussing him and shot him in the buttocks, killing him). At the time officer Nix demise he had two uses of excessive force sustained against him and many more pending. If he had not died on March 23rd 2007, he likely would’ve been fired from his job shortly after.

OK, meet Wesley Ruiz #999536. Born Nov 1979, he’s 27 years old on 03.23.07. He lives in a very rough part of town. He’s armed with a pistol for his own protection. He borrow a friend’s car to run some errands. Two cops on a task force who’re UC in a plain truck see Ruiz be-boppin’ down the road and arbitrarily (and very incorrectly) decide this car Ruiz is driving matches the description of a car involved in a murder that’d happened recently – it didn’t match. So they call in a marked unit to make a traffic stop and use that as a springboard to search the car and its occupant. Such pretextual “stop and arrests” are illegal but they do it all the time in TX.

Ruiz knows if he gets stopped he’s going to jail. So he runs. Who’d blame him? Gotta take that small chance. Maybe he’ll get lucky and get away. He’s got enough problems as it is. Other than just refusing to stop and trying to get away, Ruiz has done nothing wrong. Even in TX, mere evading is not a killing offense.

He spins out trying to make a corner and winds up in someone’s yard. Pyscho Nix pulls his cruiser nose-to-nose with Ruiz’ stalled car, leaps out, draws his weapon, runs over to the passenger side while screaming at Ruiz “if you try to get away, MFER, I’ll kill your ass!” Nix puts his gun on the ground (ain’t he brite?), grabs his asp off his service belt and starts pounding the read passenger window. An asp is a telescopic series of coil springs with a big lead sap weight on the end of it. It’s a mean weapon. When you swing it, the spring makes the weight whiplash into the target with a force magnified exponentially. Ruiz hears the crack of the asp against glass and thinks it’s a gunshot. Believing this crazy cop is making good on his threat to kill him, Ruiz reached into the backseat, grabs his pistol and fires one shot at Nix’s shoulder just to disable him so he can’t shoot at him again. He’s not trying to kill Nix, just to stop Nix killing him, Ruiz.

He drops the pistol and faces the front where the other (5) officers involved insanely open up a fusillade of bullets that takes the terms “excessive force” and “overkill” to new heights.

Without another shot fired by Ruiz, these officers expend 56 (fifty six) rounds of ammunition, hitting Ruiz 14 times. Ruiz is not in an offensive posture when he’s shot. He’d already dropped his weapon and surrendered. But still he’s shot fourteen times (14) !!!?? Unbelievable.

All of these actions D.P.D. officers violate every procedural protocol in their operations manual. They weren’t supposed to force a high speed chase in a residential section; they we’re not supposed to bum rush the stalled car with guns drawn; officer Nix was not supposed to go running up to the car with gun drawn threatening death to Ruiz for nothing; and they surely weren’t supposed to shoot him after he’d relinquished his weapon, fourteen times (14), nor expend fifty six (56) rounds!

Although they took him to the hospital and gave him very minimal treatment, within a day and a half they threw him out of took him to an isolated single cell at Dallas County jail, hoping he’d die. He still somehow managed to live anyway.

Officer Nix wasn’t as lucky. He was hit in the shoulder/collarbone area but the bullet struck his badge and ricocheted into his neck, severing his carotid artery. Officer Nix subsequently bled out on the ground and in the car on the way to the hospital – the officers thought they could get him to the E.R. faster than waiting on an ambulance.

You can blame Ruiz all you want but the fact remains that these officers openly and very damn viciously attacked a citizen on false, pretextual pretenses later found to have no basis in fact, tried to assassinate him in order to cover it up (another citizen witness on the scene who observed the incident says the police opened up on Ruiz and shot him first), then convicted him of capital murder for defending himself against Nix.

Here’s the kicker: it’s capital murder to kill a cop who’s acting in furtherance of discharging his lawful duties. Office Nix, when he was shot, was not acting in furtherance of discharging any lawful duty. Had he merely used the P.A. system in his vehicle to address Ruiz and tell him to exit the vehicle with his hands in the air where he can see them and to place his hands on the hood of the vehicle and assume the position officer Nix would still be alive today. Officer Nix’s illegal actions got him killed.

Now, I got some questions for y’all and I want some answers! I get tired of being a lone voice on this sphere of new balls I chunck outta the hellhole from time to time. Time for you folks out there to give me some feedback. I demand interaction, now! Ha/Ha J

Seriously though, here’s my questions:

• Did Rogelio Cannady deserve to die? I’ve already said I believe he did not. If you think his execution was just, tell me why you believe that.

• Does Lee Taylor deserve to die for defending himself in a lethal situation in which the state placed him? If you say yes, tell me why.

• Does Wesley Ruiz deserve to die for defending himself against this psycho officer Nix? Again, if you say yes, tell me why. Explain it, spell it out in detail.

This is not a debate on the death penalty here. This is an assessment of potential consequences of someone’s actions in abstract. In any of the three instant cases I described, do these guys’ actions merit death and, if so, why?

Rogelio’s dead. Put some flowers on his grave. Tiny’s not dead but soon could be. Ruiz is just starting out his appeal process. Please write and offer him support and encouragement to Tiny and Wesley, OK. You know, when I first met Wesley and he told me the story himself, I would’ve swore he was lying. Embellishing, aggrandizing, shading it his way. Nope. He was 100% truthful in every fact he related. I’ve read his brief written by Lydia Brandt, a well-known D.P. appellate attorney. She’s 100% reliable in citing the evidence and trial record. It’s just too insane to be real, I tell you! But it’s real!

Tiny’s case has some mean twists and subterfuge engaged by the swine, too. But it involves gangs and stuff I can’t speak on because I don’t know what’s permissible to say publicly. I’ll let Tiny explain to you what he can, if you write him. You should!

Well, I just wanted to give y’all some’ to think about. You never know what’s gonna happen in your life from one day to the next, eh. I’d guarantee you, on the days it happened, neither of these guys woke up and thought “hey today, I’m gonna kill a prisoner and get sentenced to death”. You think Ruiz knew, when he left to run errands, he’d wind up shot 14 times, on the 6 o’clock news, with a cop dead and he’s charged with it? Nope. No way.

That’s the Hellhole News for this edition, Sunday January 30th, 2011. Goodnight and have a pleasant evening. Write me too! At the address below:

999143 Polunsky Unit
H W Hank Skinner
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston TX 77351-8580

For those of you who use JPay to write, don’t forget to always include your postal address and your e-mail address after your signature, so I can reply to you. don’t forget to enter my TDC number as an 8-digit number: 00999143.

PS. Two more things about the Ruiz case: to anyone who doubts that the swine tried to assassinate Mr. Ruiz – after they expended 56 rounds, hitting him 14 times, they left him, unconscious and bleeding. Laying half out of his car for over an hour and later had the temerity to call it a “standoff”!! On Nix MySpace page he answered a survey question about how he wanted to die, saying he wanted to go out “in a blaze of glory”. I guess he got his wish. After Mr. Ruiz arrest, once they learned he lived, Dallas police spin doctors went on a long propaganda smear campaign against Mr. Ruiz, calling him everything from a “zetas drug cartel associate”, to a “known methamphetamine dealer” to a “confirmed gang member” ad nauseum. None of these accusations were ever proven true because, of course, they are not true at all. All of this was designed to counter the allegations D.P.D. knew (or thought they knew) were coming about their ambushing a citizen and trying to assassinate him with no justifiable or plausible probable cause at all, except the pretext stop and arrest I mentioned earlier; which of course was illegal. Unfortunately for Mr. Ruiz, he was appointed a sellout lawyer who wholly failed to adequately represent him pretrial or at the trial itself. So here he sits on death row.

Friday, February 04, 2011

"Incendiary" - New Film on Todd Willingham Case to Premiere at 2011 SXSW Film Festival

From Texas Moratorium Network:
A new documentary entitled "Incendiary" about the Todd Willingham case will have its world premiere at the 2011 SXSW film festival. We will make a trip to the premiere with the participants of the Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break.

Watch an excerpt sequence at the Texas Tribune.
Check out the official website for the film.
Like the facebook page for the film
Follow the film on twitter.

INCENDIARY is the true story of the conviction and execution of Cameron Todd Willingham for the arson murder of his three children in 1991, and of the resulting scientific, legal and political firestorm that rages today. A potential landmark death penalty case, Willingham's execution based upon junk science begs re-examinations of other arson convictions, criminal prosecution for obstructors of due process, and a re-evaluation of the law's ultimate punishment. Equal parts murder mystery, forensic investigation and political drama, INCENDIARY documents the haunted legacy of a prosecution built on 'folklore'.

The filmmakers are Austin's own Steve Mims and Joe Bailey. Steve Mims's award-winning shorts and features have screened in festivals and on television. He teaches at UT Austin. INCENDIARY is UT Law graduate Joe Bailey, Jr.’s first feature-length film. He works as a cinematographer and sound recordist in Austin.