Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Prominent Chicago Businessman/Former City Official Speaks Out Against Department of Justice Abuses

Prominent businessman, retired Chicago Elections Commissioner and former Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) board member Howard Medley, today lashed out against the alarming number of false arrests resulting from malicious prosecutions. He said that this is a troubling trend being perpetrated in our country against innocent Americans by unscrupulous "lawmakers" driven by:

* a bloodthirsty desire to close a high-profile case -- even when evidence is "suspect" or non-existent
* a vindictive craving to exact revenge or settle a score
* a quest for fame -- at the expense of justice

Medley declared that he has remained quiet as he's seen case after case of such judicial deception result in a steady stream of innocents being hauled off to jail. He said this constant spectacle finally forced him to speak out. He said that the Department of Justice's failure to stem the tide of false arrests, stop the incidents of law enforcement manufacturing evidence, and the inability of the Department to effectively address this means that the agency no longer serves the "best interests" of the public it professes to serve. He said the institution of a more uniform and a check-and-balance system to allay such miscarriages of justice is long overdue.

"It's inconceivable that in the 200 years since its inception, the American justice system remains virtually unimproved," said Medley. "Surely this country -- one of the richest and technologically advanced in the world -- possesses the ability to deploy technology that improves our dilapidated justice system."

Medley characterized as "utterly ridiculous" the notion that there is no recourse to correct this injustice, which has plagued America for too long. He said that the discovery of DNA analysis is a tool being used by tenacious college students and advocacy agencies like the Innocence Project. However, he lamented that governmental agents "charged with protecting, guaranteeing and safeguarding the constitutional rights of American citizens," do not turn to these instruments in their prosecutorial duties. "This failure, in effect," said Medley, "makes the Department of Justice an enemy of the people."

Medley suggested several measures that could rectify the situation including enhancing polygraphs technology to make it more reliable and admissible in court. Medley added that jurors need to be better educated to process complicated cases that would confound scientists, geniuses and even authorities on the subject. He said "everyday jurors" often do not have the capacity to sift through facts, theories and empirical concepts. Absent a grasp of such complex methodologies, jurors are often swayed by legal theatrics and contrived evidence made to appear authentic.

When coupled with an inept legal defense, or non-defense, the innocent victim of this malicious prosecution "has no chance" to beat the odds and is "shackled and hauled off to prison" only to be exonerated years later by independents using the latest technology. Medley speculated that these latest crime-exonerating resources appear to not be in the Department of Justice's crime-fighting arsenal.

Medley noted that by statute, law enforcement officials do not incur any liability if they are "guilty" of false arrests because they are shielded through a process known as "qualified immunity." He characterized this protection as "outrageous" and a practice that must be reversed. "Someone must be held accountable when government officials clearly act out of the boundaries of the law," declared Medley.

He postulated that a deterrent is to hold prosecutors accountable for frivolous actions like knowingly pursuing prosecuting and convicting innocent persons. "If prosecutors are levied fines, sanctions and even meted out punishment like incarceration for maliciously using their authority to haul innocent people to prison, this trend would cease -- immediately!!"

He said one of the worst-case scenarios of this type of prosecutorial malfeasance is in cases like Alton Logan who was released from prison 25 years after being convicted of a crime he did not commit. He said a deadly mixture of news media sensationalism, a frenzied atmosphere demanding an arrest, and inept and lazy prosecutors resulted in this atrocity. He said Logan languished in prison while his case disappeared from the news cycle. He said the Logan case, and that of hundreds of thousands who have been exonerated, are examples of "tragedies perpetrated by the Department of Justice and other municipal law enforcement agencies.

Medley lamented that often an innocent person is unable to clear his name because the "doors of the court" become closed to him. He cites the incongruence between the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He said the Seventh Circuit prohibits a wrongfully convicted person from challenging his conviction while the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals makes provision for those wrongfully convicted to have their case overturned. Even in cases where a person has subsequently obtained unjust sentencing and irrefutable evidence proves his innocence and clears his name, he is denied the right of appeal to clear his name. This prohibits that innocent citizen from returning to society without the stigma of a conviction barring his re-entry.

Medley acknowledges that the task of fixing this situation is daunting. Because it can only be overturned at the highest corridors of power, he admonishes the victor of the 2008 presidential elections to make the need for overhauling the justice department a major priority during his administration. He suggested remedies like the establishment of A Presidential Task Force charged with investigating the existing system, the creation of a vetting procedure for persons appointed to prosecutorial positions, an aggressive effort to introduce technology to the Department, and a revamping of the culture that has given tacit approval to this judicial misbehavior. "Something must be done to reverse the lack of accountability for wrong convictions," he decried.

"The worst crimes being perpetrated in the country are by the U.S. prosecutors," he asserted. "The only difference between them and criminals with a mask is that they wear a suit and carry a badge."

Medley's outspokenness on the Justice system is spurred by a personal interest in championing this cause. He bears painful witness to the havoc that can be wreaked on an innocent person. His ordeal with the justice system came in 1990 when he was wrongfully indicted and convicted of bribery -- at the height of his business and political career and while he was a member of the Chicago Transit Authority Board and a Commissioner with the Board of Elections. A close confidante of the late Mayor Harold Washington, Medley said that "within weeks" after the Mayor died, an overzealous, vindictive federal prosecutor indicted him for what Medley characterizes as a "political vendetta." He said the prosecutor deployed theatrics to an inept jury who failed to distinguish theory versus fact. Medley acknowledged that he failed to grasp the depth and scope of the prosecutor's vindictiveness and, figuring the case was "of no merit," retained a defense team that was ill prepared to counter the venomous offense. Therefore, they, in turn, failed to mount a quality offense.

The first trial ended in a hung jury with even the jury conceding that the case against him was a weak one. Bristling from that outcome and still motivated by a "get-him" mentality, the U.S. prosecutors retried the case.

He said the public couldn't possibly fathom the pain that such an ordeal inflicts. "Take your worst nightmare, multiply by three and you don't come close to how devastating the experience was and how it shattered my life."

Medley concedes that his only wrong was in failing to gauge the lengths to which the U.S. Attorney's office would go to prosecute him for something he did not, nor would ever do. So, feeling his ordeal was over and that the second jury would hand down a similar verdict, he selected a less-experienced lawyer when the government announced it would retry him.

Medley acknowledges that the mistake cost him 10 months of unjust incarceration, saddled him with an exorbitant financial burden, and burdened him and his family with a lifetime of anguish. Medley continues to fight for the right to clear his name. Stressing his right to speak for other innocents who have suffered, he states he has evidence that would clear him but was not permitted that opportunity by the American justice system He specifically wanted to be grated an appeal hearing of his case by the Seventh Circuit Court.

Despite the fact that Medley served the undeserved time, returned to the business world and has for the past two decades enjoyed the benefits of having lived a model, highly-respected life, he's still considered a felon. This is a painful stigma that has prohibited him from being completely accepted by society. He is limited from playing " a highly-significant role in his church because of that wrongful conviction." Now his motivation to clear his name has turned to a crusade, not only for himself but also for every other innocent citizen who may not have the means to fight.

Medley lamented that he has exhausted the gamut of the complete judicial system. He has appealed to the Supreme Court, the Congress, the Senate and the President. However, he lamented that the doors of the judicial system are closed to restoring his reputation in the community at large. He said he was encouraged by Senator Barack Obama's statement that he was going to look into the justice system. He urged the next president -- whether it is Senator Obama or Senator McCain -- to make this a "first priority."

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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