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October 19, 2004

Shackled to a jurisprudence

As detailed here, the US Supreme Court yesterday granted cert. in Deck v. Missouri, 04-5293. In Deck, a capital defendant contends, according to this decision of the Supreme Court of Missouri, that "having to appear before the jury wearing leg irons and handcuffed to a belly chain" during the penalty phase of his capital trial "violated his rights to due process, equal protection, confrontation of the evidence, a fair and reliable sentencing and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment."

Though I am not an expert on defendant shackling jurisprudence, I know enough about death penalty litigation to conclude that the precise issue before the High Court in Deck probably arises in only a few dozen cases each year. Though obviously this issue is very important to Mr. Deck, the broader jurisprudential significance of Deck for capital sentencing law and policy is probably quite limited. But the cert. grant in Deck is another reminder of how much work the Supreme Court created for itself since it started seriously regulating capital sentencing procedures three decades ago after its landmark rulings in Furman and Gregg.

As I noted here, I see some jurisprudential parallels between the developing Apprendi/Blakely line of non-capital sentencing regulations and the Furman/Gregg line of capital sentencing regulations. I will not be surprised if it takes three decades and even longer to sort out all of the issues that Blakely raises. I thus wonder if the Justices are already feeling shackled by Blakely and all the jurisprudential work that lies ahead.

October 19, 2004 at 02:25 PM | Permalink

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Dearest kind sirs or madams,


You often see on the news or read in the newspaper about someone having a heart and helping those who are less fortunate and unjustly treated. This is a plea for help for my family and I, not a plea for money. I am sending e-mails to everyone including 20/20, etc. Please do not push this away, but let this be one of those rare instances where someone cares enough to make a change and fix the wrong that has been done.

I am the wife of an innocent man who is a victim of a sentencing catastrophe. My husband was brought into a conspiracy of about 30 people both domestic and international. He and only two other men went to trial to prove their innocence. The prosecutors told him that if he went to court they were going to ask for an enhancement in his sentencing. During the trial the judge would seldom let the defense defend their case but allowed the prosecutors all privileges. My husband was not tried separately, but was tried with the two other defendants and all but maybe one short day of a week-long trial was he even included in this presentation before the jury. The hearsay witnesses told two different stories that really didn't make any sense. I spoke with one attorney afterwards that had sat in on the case the first few days, and he told me that he didn't see how they where able to even have a case to present in court in the first place. We had every bit of proof on paper and witnesses to show that my husband did not have a part in this conspiracy, nor even have the time to be a part of this conspiracy. During the trial my husband’s sixth amendment was violated and our attorney, Mr. John Freisell, repeatedly asked for a mistrial and The Honorable Judge Harmon denied it several times, telling him she was not going to grant a mistrial and that he would have to take it up with the fifth circuit. The jury was not correctly instructed before they were asked to decide their verdict (the rest of my family’s life). The leader of this conspiracy pleaded guilty and got a maximum of 8 years and a $250,000.00 fine. Most of the rest of the defendants on this case pleaded out and are walking the streets. In addition, ABC-13 said that my husband, along with the two other defendants, were running the largest ecstasy ring in Houston (which is a lie). Please look into this case as my husband is looking at life in prison, and he is the only one that had no part of this conspiracy. Please, we need your help. I have been reaching out for help but to date no one has responded. After the trial, another attorney looked at my husband, with tears in his eyes and with shock in his voice, and said, "Mr. Ginns, I just want to shake your hand because I have just watched you get ripped apart by this court and it is obvious that you did not have any reason to be a part of this trial or conspiracy.”

During my husband’s trial all could clearly see that he was innocent by the way the case was presented. The facts proving his innocence were all there, but were cleverly kept hidden from the jury. The prosecutors were allowed to tell the story in a false and incriminating way to make it appear they were correct (which is usually what they do). It was very evident because most every time you, as an attorney, tried to ask the witness in this case the same questions the prosecutors’ asked their witness you were objected to and the judge allowed it, but when it was your turn to object for the same reason your objection was ignored. (Houston, Southern District of Texas; Case #02577, Defendant 18, Ronnie Lee Ginns; inmate #14312179) What do you do? What will you do? Will you help us? Your client's Sixth Amendment was violated by a member of the law who was on the stand trying to make your client look like the bad guy to the jury and you continuously demanded a mistrial, the Judge continually denied it, telling you forget it, not to ask for it again, that you would have to take it up with the 5th Circuit. (Houston, Southern District of Texas; Case #02577, Defendant 18, Ronnie Lee Ginns; inmate #14312179) What do you do? What will you do? Will you help us or just turn away? It was clearly obvious to everyone that the prosecutors were abusing their power and the Judge was helping them get away with it. (Houston, Southern District of Texas; Case #02577, Defendant 18, Ronnie Lee Ginns; inmate #14312179) What do you do? What will you do? Will you help us? And when the Judge improperly instructs the Jury before your client gets found guilty for a life sentence because he just wanted to prove his innocence and everyone including his attorneys and other attorneys new the facts proved his innocence. (Houston, Southern District of Texas; Case #02577, Defendant 18, Ronnie Lee Ginns; inmate #14312179) What do you do? What will you do? Will you please help us? You know that because of the lies, the contempt on the prosecutors’ side and perjury that was allowed, YOUR client has been sentenced to life in prison and his three young children will grow up without a father. His wife will have a continuous struggle to keep them all together and from losing their home. WHAT DO YOU DO? WHAT WILL YOU DO? WILL YOU HELP US OR JUST TURN US AWAY? (Houston, Southern District of Texas; Case #02577, Defendant 18, Ronnie Lee Ginns; inmate #14312179)

Please explain to me why Mr. Durst gets 5 years for admitting to shooting his neighbor and then cutting him up into little pieces, but a man that has proof of innocence against all of the charges that have been brought against him, is looking at a minimum of 20 years and possibly life in prison. (Houston, Southern District of Texas; Case #02577, Defendant 18, Ronnie Lee Ginns; inmate #14312179) Isn't this so-called Justice system designed to keep the psycho's that chop up their neighbors behind bars and those who did not commit a crime able to be at home with their wives and small children? (Houston, Southern District of Texas; Case #02577, Defendant 18, Ronnie Lee Ginns; inmate #14312179) During the time when there was surveillance on everyone's houses involved in this case, Mr. Ronnie Ginns was never seen going to any of the houses of the other parties nor was he seen meeting with any of them. (Houston, Southern District of Texas; Case #02577, Defendant 18, Ronnie Lee Ginns; inmate #14312179) At the times when he was seen leaving his house he was going to a legal working job. How is he able to be convicted when the case has to be PROVED BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT? (Houston, Southern District of Texas; Case #02577, Defendant 18, Ronnie Lee Ginns; inmate #14312179) No one has offered to step in and help us because we have no money. All we can offer is some attention and publicity in the media. My kids deserve to have a father (a good one at that) and I am not going to rest until I find that needle in the haystack that will set him free. I am looking for that person who will have the courage, the fortitude to step up and see that justice is done. Please HELP us. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE.

Please don't turn me away. I am begging for your help. We have three young, beautiful kids who are now ages 5, 8, and 8. We all miss him very much and he deserves to be home with his family. These children may never see their father again if you do not help us. I have had to put one of our sons in therapy because of all this. Please, I beg of you, help us. It is in Houston, Texas; Case #02577, Defendant 18, Ronnie Lee Ginns; inmate #14312179; Federal Court House (Southern District of Texas) He is in the Federal Detention Center on Texas Avenue. Please help us. I am desperate.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to read this; please don't ignore this cry for help. There are multiple lives at stake.

Sincerely,


A. Shalee Ginns
[email protected]
[email protected]



Please help us bring our daddy home. He is a good daddy and we miss him a lot.

Nieko Garrison Kahtyanna


Posted by: Leigh | Oct 19, 2004 5:20:11 PM

To the wife of Ronnie Ginns. I think it is time that your husband accept responsibility for his actions and realize that there are consequences for a criminal lifestyle

Posted by: desi | Feb 28, 2005 10:42:06 AM

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Posted by: | Oct 14, 2008 5:55:59 AM

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