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Friday, May 21, 2010

A Fast for Justice set for June 21st:

The Oppression of the Scott Sisters

By Eddie Griffin

Friday, May 21, 2010

Jamie Scott is dying in prison of kidney failure. She and her sister, Gladys, were convicted of an $11 robbery in 1994 and sentenced to consecutive double-life sentences by the state of Mississippi. That the sisters did not actually commit the robbery and the fact that no one was hurt, and despite neither had a prior criminal record, they have been incarcerated since.

Previously, we appealed to Mississippi state officials to show compassion and release the two grandmothers who watched their children grow up from behind bars. We questioned the validity of the coerced confessions of the teenagers who actually carried out the robbery. Lastly, we questioned the harshness of the sentence, whether it was cruel and unusual to sentence a person to double-life for an $11 robbery, in which no one was hurt.

Our voices have been ignored. There is no compassion in the State of Mississippi, nor has it ever been, in the rural backwoods counties and Delta.

Therefore, Eddie G. Griffin (BASG) joins in with all of the family, friends, and supporters of the Scott Sisters, in a Fast for Justice, June 21, 2010, in conjunction with a mass demonstration in Washington, D.C.

[Read Press Release below]

P r e s s R e l e a s e

B.J. Janice Peak-Graham / Marpessa Kupendua
1- 866-968-1188, Ext. 2

Gray-Haired Witnesses to Hold Fast
Issues Challenge to America’s Conscience

WASHINGTON, May 20 /Gray-Haired Witnesses for Justice News -- The Gray-Haired Witnesses for Justice will undertake a fast and appear at the Department of Justice and the White House in Washington, DC on June 21, 2010, calling upon the nation to exercise an authentic system of justice in the case of Gladys and Jamie Scott and all other women who have been incarcerated wrongly and egregiously over-sentenced, punishing and destroying our families and children. Among their demands is freedom for the Scott Sisters and that an Inspection and Observation Team enter the Pearl, MS prison where Jamie Scott is being held.

This event was prompted by the serious illness of Jamie Scott and abysmal lack of competent medical care she has received in prison since both of her kidneys shut down this past January. Jamie has suffered so much maltreatment that she has quickly declined to stage 5 (end stage) kidney disease and has now effectively been sentenced to death. The Gray-Haired Witnesses are calling on all people of good will to fast in solidarity with them and to contact the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility and Dept. of Justice across the nation on that day.

The group issued the following statement about the fast in protest of continuing inhumane treatment and injustice in Americas courts and prisons:

"Over the last 20 years, the women’s population in US prisons has more than tripled. Most women are in prison as a result of drug selling, addiction, domestic violence and criminal acts mostly related to men. We also recognize the systemic racism that leads the police to even arrest the Black woman in the first place, the racism during sentencing, during incarceration, in dealing with social services, education, health discrimination, and beyond. We want to raise the political consciousness of the nation while standing as the moral soul of the nation. Many of us lived through segregation and worked to dismantle it through various movements for human dignity, equal rights and justice. We now see a coalition of corporate, cultural and political wars fully embracing a White supremacist culture of domination and terrorism. As part of this campaign they slander and dehumanize the entire Black community in the media and other public spaces.

This is perfectly illustrated by the case of the Mississippi Scott Sisters, Jamie and Gladys, whose almost 16 yrs of unjust incarceration is a shocking revelation of the pure nothingness with which our lives are deemed in the eyes of this society and world. In 1994, the State of Mississippi sentenced Jamie and Gladys Scott to consecutive double-life terms each for two counts of armed robbery they did not commit. They did not have prior criminal records, vigorously maintained their innocence, approximately $11 was said to have been netted, no one was harmed or injured and no weapon was ever recovered. Witnesses testified that they were coerced and threatened to lie on the Scott Sisters and their unbelievable convictions rest entirely on a combination of contradictory, coerced, and potentially perjured testimony by the victims and two other people charged with the crime who were offered lighter sentences for their cooperation. Even if the Scott Sisters were guilty of this crime, the sentence is absolutely unheard of and draconian, at best, and is cruel and unusual punishment without a doubt!

We come from a long line of women who refused to bend under the lash of chattel slavery from the time we were first dragged upon these shores until the 21st century slavery of today's prison industrial complex! We are the elder women, the daughters of the American slave system, Jim Crow oppression and the American Freedom Movement. We who are three strikes removed from the center of the power structure of this country. Our lives have prepared us to come to this place, at this time.”

The day-long event commences at the Department of Justice in a 10:00 a.m formal appeal to Eric Holder, rejoins at the White House at Noon in a formal appeal to President Obama, and then continues at Lafayette Square Park from Noon until 9PM for the duration of the fast with speakers, live performances and artists. All attendees are asked to bring non-perishable food items in honor of the fasting elders to be distributed to the Washington, DC community at the conclusion of the day.

Day-Long Fast which will take place in Washington, DC on June 21, 2010

This is perfectly illustrated by the case of the Mississippi Scott Sisters, Jamie and Gladys, whose almost 16 yrs of unjust incarceration is a shocking revelation of the pure nothingness with which our lives are deemed in the eyes of this society and world. In 1994, the State of Mississippi sentenced Jamie and Gladys Scott to consecutive double-life terms each for two counts of armed robbery they did not commit. They did not have prior criminal records, vigorously maintained their innocence, approximately $11 was said to have been netted, no one was harmed or injured and no weapon was ever recovered. Witnesses testified that they were coerced and threatened to lie on the Scott Sisters and their unbelievable convictions rest entirely on a combination of contradictory, coerced, and potentially perjured testimony by the victims and two other people charged with the crime who were offered lighter sentences for their cooperation. Even if the Scott Sisters were guilty of this crime, the sentence is absolutely unheard of and draconian, at best, and is cruel and unusual punishment without a doubt!

Thursday, May 20, 2010


RE: Reconciliation in aftermath of Settlement with Michael Jacobs Jr. Estate

City Hall
1000 Throckmorton St.
Fort Worth, Texas 76102

Attn.: Mayor Mike Moncrief

Dear Mayor Moncrief:

It was good to see you on Tuesday at City Council and have the opportunity to greet you and your wife Rosie, and to receive a warm embrace from councilwoman Kathleen Hicks. We appreciate your devotion and diligence, particularly in laying to rest the grievance of the Michael Jacobs family.

In the aftermath of the settlement, there was a pledge among religious and civil rights leaders to work for reconciliation and healing. Pastor Kyev Tatum extended the hand of fellowship to FW Police Chief Jeff Halstead to work for better policing in the community, and I am happy to say I received a call from the pastor confirming that he meet with Chief Halstead at the Minority Leaders & Citizens Council.

I was unable to attend, and the Jacobs family is still in mourning and not comfortable making public appearances. However, I too propose to work towards peace and good will in the City and between neighbors. I realize there are times we will disagree over issues such as the usage of tasers.

AS A FINAL NOTE: We will not digress from our opposition to tasers. Even more, we insist on not letting any taser incident go unnoticed and nor an aggrieved party goes without a course for redress against the city and responsible parties.

Let me point out to you some unaddressed grievances, here and around the country: (1) Pregnant women being tasered- How will 50,000 volts of electricity affect the innocent unborn? (2) Underage children- The potential for neurological and permanent psychological damages are yet assess- the weapon is still unproven in long term effects. (3) Taser use against senior citizens, wheelchair-bound, psychologically impaired, and those unable to make sound judgment (whether under the influence of drugs or alcohol).

This is an example of the types of cases the city will see in the future, if the department insists on continued usage of tasers as control devices, short of fatality: A victim hit with a taser falls headlong on the ground, pavement, or concrete, face first, unable to break their fall, because of incapacitation- a very common occurrence that has led courts to rule in injury cases, such usage is excessive, cruel, and unusual.

These are actual documented cases now working their way through the courts. Victims are no longer suing the manufacturer, TASER International, with its team of expert lawyers and sales people. They are suing police departments and municipalities. And police departments, in hindsight, are claiming that TASER International never told them of the dangers.

We have brought about many changes in department policies, and changes in TASER product safety warranties. The weapon can no longer be used against pregnant women, which means the officer in the field must make a determination if a woman is pregnant or not. Tasers are not to be used on senior citizens. But again, it is at the officer’s discretion to make the determination, not only on the elderly, but also the infirm, mentally ill, and those at risk for a heart attack.

TASER International has also lowered its target range. Officers are told to not shoot in the chest area, as if they can control where two wildly flying electrical darts will strike.

As for the threshold of torture, the United Nations has determined that tasers can be torture. Moreover, we contend that any weapon that employs “conducted energy” (electricity) is an implement of torture, and has historically been so.

And finally, it should be noted that the federal government is now soliciting “Alternatives to Conducted Energy Less-Lethal Devices”, that is to say an alternatives to tasers. (See

In essence, there is no future for tasers. They will become too much of a costly and cumbersome burden; and, in time, unserviceable. The death count can only rise beyond the now 481 dead. And, TASER International will continue avoid the words “electricity” and “electrocution”, and instead use psychobabble like “excited delirium” to explain cause of death.

Eddie Griffin (BASG), a member of AfroSpear

BASG is devoted to teaching community problem-solving skills to leaders of tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Another Nail in the Coffin of TASER

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

When the Fort Worth City Council voted on Tuesday to accept a $2 million settlement in the Taser related death of Michael Jacobs Jr., they cast down their eyes and droop their heads in painful sorrow of this salt in the wound. They wanted to say as little as possible to stir the winds. She was a City eager to heal and move on.

Yet the City would not concede liability into the young man’s death. Maybe, to do so, would expose her to more similar lawsuits. After all, there have been five taser related deaths in the past five years. For to be culpable in one, infers guilt in the other.

Fort Worth Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks spoke for the City and for the community, declaring now to be the time to begin the healing process.

An exhausted pastor, Kyev Tatum, who has led the mass public awareness campaign which gained national and international attention, sighed with some relief that this part of the battle against tasers was over. Tomorrow, he would take up the matter of the Arlington Police Department and its plan to purchase 300 more stun guns. By no means, for him, was the war over.

Pastor Tatum was drawn into the taser controversy when the Jacobs family called out for help. The Fort Worth Police Department had electrocuted the son of Charlotte and Michael Sr., with a 50,000-volt taser, and nobody was saying anything, not even a word of regret or sympathy. There was no explanation from the police department as to why the officer engaged the weapon for a full 54 seconds upon a young man with mental problems. And, no city leader was willing to condemn the officer without all the facts.

The City was silent and complacent and its populous impervious. Michael Jacobs, Jr. was on his way to becoming just another silent statistic in a string of taser related deaths.

Tatum organized a local chapter of the Southern Leadership Conference (SCLC) and pulled together coalition of other civil rights organizations, including NAACP, LULAC, ACLU, and community activists. The community coalition called for an investigation, and to make the results public.

The medical examiner, upon finding no contributory causes such as drugs or alcohol in Jacobs’ system, declared his death a homicide. But the police department refused to dismiss the officer, and the grand jury refused to indict. There was no recourse except to seek redress by civil suit; otherwise, no one would be accountable for the death of an innocent, mentally challenged young man.

The $2 million settlement is a small penance to pay for a human life, though the largest in city history, but it may pave the way for reconciliation. The Fort Worth Police Department plans to meet with Pastor Tatum and other ministers to “begin the healing process”, and discuss strategies for better policing in the community. There will continue to be disagreement, however, on the usefulness of tasers and their lethality.

There is an axiom here: As the death count rises, the cost of using tasers will go up.

Although the manufacturer of the weapon, TASER International, has been sued over 100 times, it remains largely unscathed. They sell the instruments based upon its claim of non-lethality, and leave municipalities to pay the cost of wrongful deaths.

“Tasers are not only deadly”, Tatum declares. “They are torture.”

Officer Stephanie Phillips did not know that when she continuously engaged the trigger of her taser that 50,000 volts of electricity continued to course through the body of Michael Jacobs Jr., and that she was inadvertently frying him alive, from the inside out. No one ever told her the weapon was lethal. She was never trained to “disengage” the electrodes before electrocuting the subject. Maybe this is why the Tarrant County grand jury declined to indict her. And, she did not violate department policies by using her own discretion to deploy.

Hindsight is 20/20, and many people wish that certain events could be undone. Had the officer known the deadliness of the weapon, she would have ceased engagement. This being the premise, a Star-Telegram editorial emphasized “better training” as a resolution to taser death.

Not so. Teaching an officer how to use discretion in the field, when deploying the weapon, is no guarantee against abuse, nor does it mitigate the fact that the taser itself is an implement of torture. But proving torture, on the other hand, is much harder than proving the cause of death. By its very definition, a torturous act must be one that horrifies the social consciousness of humanity. And yet we, as a nation, have been conditioned into accepting the Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs) as non-lethal and harmless.

We discount the fact that they have been used on pregnant women such as Valreca Redden and claimed the life of the 6-month unborn child of Hannah Rogers-Grippi, that they have been used on senior citizens in their 70s and 80s, against the wheel-chair bound and mentally ill, and that the death count in the U.S.A. and Canada now stands at 481.

What is more, there is now mounting evidence that tasers cause serious and permanent injuries. A young victim is tasered over a minor incident, falls flat on his face, unable to catch himself, and breaks out his front teeth. He sues and wins. And, it has been reported, that those who have been tasered and survived, have “never been the same” since, having suffered neurological brain damages.

These are the risks, and no one is without fair warning.

[Post Note- The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice is soliciting "Alternatives to Conducted Energy Less-Lethal Devices", to wit Tasers (R)]

The handwriting is on the wall: The days of tasers are coming to an end.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fort Worth Settle for $2 Million in Taser Death Suit:

Another Nail in A TASER Coffin

By Eddie Griffin

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Today, when the Fort Worth City Council voted to accept a $2 million settlement in the Taser related death of Michael Jacobs Jr., it brought some closure and little consolation to one of the saddest and most tragic events in city history. I wonder about all the other municipalities who have had to shell out millions of dollars in a taser death lawsuits.

In a post-decision interview, NBC5 reporter asked: “Were you surprised at the size of the settlement”?

Too some it seems large, the largest settlement in such cases in city history, it is reported. But compared to settlements reached by other cities, wrongful death by taser are running $2 million here and $3 million in Houston in 2009. Injuries associated with being tasered averages in the hundreds of thousands to just over $1 million in a lawsuit where the victim feel face-first and knocked out his front teeth. We have not yet calculated the long term damages to those who survived, but damaged for life.

No, the settlement was not large, and infinitely smaller than the worth of a young man’s life.

[Historic settlement in lawsuit over taser death]

[Excerpt from “Towards Closure and Resolution in Taser Death of Michael Jacobs Jr,” by Eddie Griffin. Saturday, August 29, 2009]

We now have closure in the Fort Worth Police Department’s taser death case of a 24-year old man, who had been diagnosed with mental illnesses. We have closure insofar as the Tarrant County Medical Examiner ruled the death of Michael Jacobs Jr. as a “homicide caused by the officer’s use of the Taser”. We have closure insofar as the officer admits administering two jolts of 50,000 volts to Jacobs’ body longer than the 5-second limitation. A 49-second jolt, followed by a 5-second jolt, caused a “sudden death during neuromuscular incapacitation due to application of a conducted energy device”, i.e. Taser.

Tarrant County ME Dr. Nizam Peerwani also ruled: “Repeat postmortem toxicology studies were negative for all drugs including psychomotor stimulant drugs and ethanol.” In other words, here was an innocent 24-year old African-American man with no drugs in his system at all. He was clean as a baby and healthy. And yet, in less than a minute, he is dead after being shocked with a taser.


The Fort Worth Police is willing to meet with community representatives, in order to initiate the healing process. Meanwhile, the planned purchase of 300 more tasers by the City of Arlington, next door to Fort Worth has leaders disturbed, especially in light of the Fort Worth tragedy. But the Police Chief of Arlington chooses rather to make a show of force for the upcoming 2011 Super Bowl in the City of Arlington.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fort Worth to Settle for $2 Million in Taser Death Suit

Monday, May 17, 2010

Local SCLC leader, Kyev Tatum, is calling upon the coalition of Michael Jacobs family supporters and the community to attend the Fort Worth City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 18, 2010, where another chapter in the Michael Jacobs, Jr. case will bring more closure to this tragedy. Council begins at 10:00 a.m., City Hall, 1000 Throckmorton St.

HAT TIP to Pastor Kyev Tatum and the local SCLC, NAACP, and LULAC, for their leadership in the investigation and settlement of the Michael Jacobs Jr. taser relate death by the Fort Worth Police Department.

HAT TIP to Pastor Tom Franklin for consecreting land for a memorial of Michael Jacobs Jr. and for the ceaseless work of Marcus Hardin, and Civil Rights attorney Brian Eberstein.

[For the current 480 listings of taser related deaths in Canada and U.S., see Truth Not Tasers]

Eddie Griffin delivered This Resolution on April 25, 2010 to the Family of Michael Jacobs Jr. on behalf of the Blogging Community Worldwide, AfroSpear and Afrosphere Action Coalition.

As a child rights advocate, Eddie Griffin became interested in the useage of tasers when a distraught pregnant mother, Valreca Redden, was tasered by a Trotwood police officer. [Story here] I wondered about the effects of 50,000 volts of electricity on the unborn child. On December 15, 2001, Hannah Rogers Grippi was tasered and lost a 6-month old fetus. [Taser Victim # 7]

Taser Torture & Death Cases in Fort Worth, Texas, USA”, submitted to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), by Eddie Griffin (BASG), 2009 May 6

A Fort Worth coalition of Civil Rights advocates sent a Letter to President Barack Obama [See below]

To: President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC, USA 20500

Subject: 21st Century Electronic Lynching

Mr. President,
This letter was written to express the protests of concerned Individuals, Civil Rights Organizations and activists who complain that our civil rights have been so eroded that it is now acceptable Police policy to use cruel and unusual punishment on a Citizen without due process of law. We the undersigned Citizens, Citizen Groups and Civil Rights Organizations, protest that the 4th, 8th, and 14th amendments of the constitution are being systematically violated by Police Officers using electronic torture devices on Citizens and non-Citizens.

Representatives of the company that manufacturers electronic torture devices lied to Police Officials when they told them that the devices had been tested and were found to be non-lethal.They bragged instead about the excruciating agony and terror caused by their use. It is impossible for the manufacturer to have tested these electronic torture devices with electrodes shot at different depths under a victims skin, and in all possible places on the human body, and for the extended times experienced in the field, also they could not have tested the devices on victims with various medical, physical and mental conditions. Had this happened there would have been many deaths of the test subjects. Instead, the company in effect used Police Officers as lab assistants and the public as lab rats for their tests, then they harvest Para-Medic and Medical Examiners Reports all for free. They scammed an all too willing law enforcement community with half truths and outright lies. The best estimate that we can find to date indicates that thousands of victims have suffered cruel and unusual punishment and 476 victims were tortured and died after being electrocuted with an electronic torture device in the US and Canada. Medical records prove many victims suffer neurological damages after being electrocuted with an electronic torture device by a Police Officer.

Michael Patrick Jacobs Jr., a bipolar 24-year-old black youth, who needed medical attention was tortured for 54 seconds with 50,000 volt electrodes shot into his neck and chest. He was not a criminal. His 21st Century Electronic Lynching was declared a homicide by the Tarrant County, Tx. Medical Examiner. After his taser torture death the taser manufacturer sent bulletins to all Police departments to direct Officers not to shoot a victim in the chest area to avoid causing cardiac arrest. This was after 12 years of vehemently denying that tasers could be lethal and after 424 prior taser related torture deaths. The inaccuracy of the devices gives Police Officers little control over where they will be shot into the flesh of a victim so each use is playing Russian Roulette with a victims life.

Mr. President,
There is no more cruel and unusual punishment than being slowly electrocuted with 50,000 volts of electricity delivered under the skin. Please take the time to count down 54 seconds to understand just how long Michael Jacobs and thousands of others have suffered the agony of electrocution. The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that the 4 seconds of agony suffered by a convicted felon, before death occurred in the electric chair, was cruel and unusual punishment, and unconstitutional. Electrocution has been abandoned as a means of execution. Michael Jacobs who was convicted of nothing, cruelly and senselessly suffered the agony of being electrocuted with over 20 times the voltage (and pain) used in the electric chair, with a 50,000 volt barb shot into his neck and chest, for 13.5 times longer than a convicted criminal had to suffer in the chair before death happened. He suffered 54 seconds of agony before his young healthy heart was caused to fail. He is survived by two Fatherless Children and a grieving Mother and Father who blame themselves for calling for help to medicate their son and got him tased, tortured to death instead. Michael Patrick Jacobs Sr. wishes the Police had shot his son in the leg instead of torturing to him death. He said "at least he would still be alive." Google his name for the full story.

The complete Michael Patrick Jacobs Junior test is readily available to anyone who doubts that being tased for 54 seconds is cruel and unusual punishment and torture. Ft Worth, Texas has a Police Officer that is expert in administering it.

The 9th District Court made the ruling this past September that a taser could only be used when an Officer's life or the life of someone else was in danger .Police Officers train and by instinct do not use a taser in a life threatening situation, they use a lethal weapon just as they trained for and always have. This is backed by FBI records and we agree that a Police Officer is justified in using lethal force in defense of his life or to prevent harm of an innocent life. That said, any time a Government Official intentionally takes a citizen's life that act must be investigated and evaluated as to it's constitutional validity. In the 9th District Court ruling, the Judge declared that the use of electronic torture devices (tasers) causes severe pain and terror. By the very definition, severe pain and terror constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The United Nations declared that the use of a taser against a victim is "a potentially lethal form of torture".

After the famous case of the Polish immigrant who was tortured to death in a Vancouver, British Columbia airport for failing to comply with police orders, the Canadian government made the ruling that tasers could only be used in life threatening situations. Again Police Officers do not use tasers in life threatening situations. On the news this evening a Police Officer shot a Pit Bull that was attacking him. He didn't use his taser.

The use of water boarding on terrorists was condemned by you, and high ranking members of The Democratic Party, as torture while it was being done on George Bush's watch and water-boarding produces no physical pain and is mild compared to electrocution with 50,000 volts of electricity under the skin. Our troops are sacrificing their lives every day for the avowed purpose of eliminating the use of torture and terror by our enemies while torture and terror is being inflicted on our own Citizens daily by Police Officers, without due process of law. No one is fighting for these tortured, terrorized Citizens.. 41 percent of the torture deaths resulting from taser use in 2009 were black men and boys.

Mr. President, an 84 year old Grandmother and 10 year old children have been tortured with a taser by Police. One little 10 year old child was taser tortured in her home by an Arkansas Police officer because she refused to take a shower before bed time. Tear down this wall and end this terrible atrocity. 84 year old Grandmothers should not be made to live in fear and cringe each time they see a Police Officer. Be the President that is remembered in history as the President that ended barbaric torture and terror in the USA . Set the standard for all the world.and issue an executive order outlawing the use of torture of any kind and especially electrical torture. Outlaw the possession, manufacture, sale, and/or use of electrical torture devices in the USA by anyone, including Police Officers, our Military and the CIA here and abroad. Return the dignity and respect to this Nation that we once had.

Kyev Tatum SCLC President
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) Texas.

Hector Carrillo LULAC District Director
League of United Latin American Citizens

Deryl Muhammad--Representative
Nation of Islam

Drew X
Chairman New Black Panther Party

Tom Franklin
Pastor New Mt. Calvary Baptist Church
The Taser-Torture-Death Memorial Site

Marcus Hardin SCLC Texas
Strategist, Researcher, Historian

Friendship Rock Missionary Baptist
A. Scott Harper

Eddie Griffin (BASG)

Julie Walker
Prevent Dangerous Harm Inc.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lubbock Officials file Motion to Dismiss Civil Action in Tim Cole Wrongful Conviction Case

The State of Texas took the life of an innocent black college student. That Timothy Cole was not guilty of a 1985 rape of a Texas Tech college student seems inconsequential to the City of Lubbock.

In seeking the truth behind prosecution and wrongful conviction of her son, Tim Cole’s mother’s civil action was met with a callous Motion to Dismiss from the Lubbock Police Department, the city and four former police officers. The motion argues that “Cole’s mother, Ruby Session of Fort Worth, cannot show that the benefits of taking the depositions will outweigh the burdens that would be placed on those being deposed” (Defendants in Tim Cole case file motion to dismiss civil action, Star-Telegram, May 10, 2010)

Benefit versus Burden

The only burden in this case is the burden of a guilty conscious, priceless. The benefit accrues to more than Ruby Session and the immediate family of Tim Cole. This is a case of public interest, the prosecution and wrongful conviction of an innocent African-American student, and his tragic demise in prison. Thus, the national interest in the truth far exceeds the limited selfish interests of local government officials, present and former.

The Innocence Project of Texas, who helped clear the name of Timothy Cole and gain a posthumous pardon for him in 2010 from Governor Rick Perry, discovered also a pattern of wrongful convictions, and has since gained the release of 39 men from the state prison system. Like Cole, these were all innocent men, mostly African-Americans.

How and why all these innocent men were prosecuted, convicted, and sent to prison for long stretches of time, is a subject of utmost importance, particularly to the African-American community. If an innocent black college student can be shanghaied by the state criminal justice system, what safeguards minorities have against the Tyranny of the Majority in rural Texas towns that still practice frontier justice?

How can the Lubbock Police Department evade giving testimony, when they had, in hand, the confession of the actual rapist, testimonies of alibi witness, and recant of the rape victim herself?

Michele Mallin, the Texas Tech sophomore who originally identified Cole as the man who raped her on March 24, 1985, testified Lubbock police showed her his picture and she assumed they had more evidence on him, such as fingerprints.

“I still feel guilty. I'll always feel guilty about it because, I mean, my testimony sent a man to prison and he ended up dying there,” Mallin says. “Even though I know I did everything I could in my heart of hearts to do the right thing, still that happened. But I know the police are responsible and the D.A., too, because they knew things I didn't know.” (Source: NPR)

Although there were alibi witnesses with Tim Cole at the time, he was given 20 years based only upon Mallin’s testimony, with no other physical evidence. For 10 years, he languished in prison with an asthmatic condition, while the true rapist struggled with his own guilty conscious, waiting for the statue of limitation to run out, so that he could confess to the crime.

In 1995, Jerry Wayne Johnson wrote a letter to the court confessing to the Texas Tech rape. There was no response, so Johnson wrote Cole’s family. In due time, the truth finally came out. Timothy Cole was an innocent man. But it came too late. They found him unconscious in his cell on December 2, 1999, dead at the age of 39.

Based upon these set of proven facts, the courts exonerated Tim Cole, the governor pardoned him posthumously, the State Legislature passed a resolution (H.R. 62) on his behalf, and the Tim Cole Wrongful Conviction Compensation Act became law in Texas.

But the job is not yet finished

“Someone has to pay for what happened to my brother,” said Cory Session, Cole's brother. “We want every scrap of paper in the Tim Cole file. We want to see it and go through it with a fine-tooth comb. We are going to do the job that they didn't do. If there was gross misconduct, I'm sure that people will be prosecuted. But I'm just looking for some of the people who were involved to say that they are sorry. To this point, very few have done that.”

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Taser International included in Boycott Arizona

[A List of Arizona-based Business Ventures]

2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, Location: Chase Field, Phoenix, AZ

*Apollo Group (University of Phoenix). Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona

Arizona Diamondbacks, Location: Phoenix, Arizona

Best Western International, Inc., Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona

Cold Stone Creamery. Headquarters: Scottsdale, Arizona

CSK Auto (Checker Auto Parts, Schucks Auto Supply, Kragen Auto Parts, Murray’s

Discount Auto Stores), Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona

Dial Corporation, Headquarters: Scottsdale, Arizona

Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, Headquarters: Scottsdale, Arizona

Go Daddy. Headquarters: Scottsdale, Arizona

Grand Canyon

Mesa Air Group (Mesa Airlines, Go!, Freedom Airlines). Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona

P. F. Chang’s China Bistro. Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona

PetSmart. Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona

Sky Mall, Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona

Taser International, Headquarters: Scottsdale, Arizona

U-Haul. Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona

US Airways. Headquarters: Tempe, Arizona