Sunday, August 10, 2008

Legal Update on the Case of Political Prisoner Rev. Edward Pinkney

Report From Rev. Pinkney's Attorney

8/9/2008 1:48:19 PM Pacific Daylight Time

Please forward widely

Rev. Pinkney's new address at end

Editors Note: The following are excerpts from Attorney Hugh M. Davis' talk at a Pinkney Defense Fund meeting in Detroit, Michigan, July '08:

This case arises out of the poorest city in Michigan. Its most valuable land is sought by corporate interests. By virtue of their control of the county, they control the courts. The parade of people going before the criminal courts are almost all poor, and disproportionately Black; although we cannot ignore what they do to the Hispanic and poor white community. The thrust is to physically remove and destroy families through the use of the criminal justice system.

Every person they can put in jail; every person whose voting rights they can revoke with a felony conviction; every person they can cause to lose their job by putting them on probation; every person that they can cause to lose the ability to pay for basic necessities through imposing ruinous court costs and probation is all part of the process.

In the 1960s, it was called Negro removal. In Bosnia, it was called ethnic cleansing. It could be called genocide the removal of the minority population for the purpose of the redevelopment of the land. That's what's happening in Benton Harbor and the foremost leader of the resistance is Rev. Edward Pinkney.

The probation officers in the county tried to find out everywhere Pinkney has gone and everything he has said or written. With his life under such extraordinary scrutiny and having him on tether, if they could get him on anything, they would have. They didn't and they can't. So, what did they do?

They took his writings about the Bible in the People's Tribune and decided it was a violation of his probation. The first claim was that he called the courts in the county racist, corrupt and ignorant. He had been doing that for a long time. Nothing new. And even the judge could not bring himself to claim this was not protected speech under the First Amendment.

The judge then read a paragraph where the judge himself was personally mentioned and where Pinkney quoted Deuteronomy about what God shall visit upon the iniquitous. The judge determined that this was a potential threat. Then he disqualified himself and the case was assigned to the reputedly most notorious racist on the bench (no small honor), the Honorable Dennis Wiley.

So we undertook a campaign. Pinkney spent seven months in the most horrendous conditions inside the Berrien County jail. We knew that if this case ever came before a judge of that bench, they would not only revoke his probation, but they could put him in prison. Pinkney bore it heroically. Pinkney, under continuous attack inside the jail, never stopped fighting, never lost hope. We went before Judge Wiley.

The prosecution took the November copy of the People's Tribune, entered it into evidence and never called a witness. We produced an eminent theologian who explained that biblical prophesy of the wrath of God upon the iniquitous was not a personal threat, an invitation of violence or a true threat under the Constitution of the U.S.

Rev. Pinkney testified that he believes that sin will receive retribution. It is protected activity under the First Amendment. But he was found guilty of violating his probation. Then Wiley gave him every minute he could, doubling the recommendation of the prosecutor, doubling the recommendation of the probation department, 3-10 years in prison.

This judge actually said on the record that 'I believe that Pinkney did not intend to threaten the judge, but he has a direct connection to God.' He might. But, if it is true, Pinkney will still have that divine connection in prison and the wicked are no safer. So what's the point? To remove the leader of the resistance from the community as long as possible, regardless of the shame that it will certainly bring down on Berrien County?

It is ridiculous and we believe that it will become a national issue. But all the people that hear about it nationally are not necessarily going to organize, write letters and fundraise. That's our job.

The ACLU has agreed to take the case as Rev. Pinkney's direct representatives. On the original conviction, the National Lawyer's Guild has filed in the Michigan Court of Appeals a 115 page brief (that's 65 pages more than the limit) raising 13 arguments about how Pinkney's conviction was unlawful. The Court of Appeals accepted the entire brief. The prosecution will reply in September.

Second, we filed with the Governor's office a Petition for Clemency, which is an area where political action, letters of support, etc. can make a difference. The more strength we build, the more possible it will be to persuade Jennifer Granholm to grant clemency or vacate the conviction. We will also file a motion for bond pending appeal.

* *


re: Harbor Shores: "Perhaps some of you do not own a foot of ground.

Remember then, that this is your park, it belongs to you," said John Klock, a local newspaper publisher, when he gave the land to the city of Benton Harbor in 1917 in honor of his daughter.

Please send letters or postcards supporting Rev. Pinkney's application to the Parole Board. These are extremely important. Text can be as simple as: "I support Rev. Pinkney's application for pardon."

Michigan Department of Corrections
Office of the Parole Board
Pardons and Commutations Coordinator
Post Office Box 30003
Lansing, Michigan 48909

Gov. Granholm, PO Box 30013, Lansing, MI 48909 517-373-3400

Checks to BANCO for Pinkney's legal fees (tax-deductible):
1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022

BOYCOTT WHIRLPOOL &SUBSIDIARIES (Amana, Estate, Gladiator Garage Works, Insperience, Jenn-Air, KitchenAid, Magic Chef, Maytag, Roper, Acros, Inglis, Bauknecht, Brastemp, Admiral, IKEA appliances, some Kenmore) (comments by Berrien County "power players" must be seen to be believed)

NEW ADDRESS write to Rev. P.
Hiawatha Correctional Facility
Rev. Edward Pinkney #294671
4533 Industrial Park Dr.
Kincheloe, MI 49786-0001 (anything is appreciated: articles-serious or fun, letters about you, questions, short notes.

No comments: