Thursday, January 31, 2008

Injustice in Michigan

Related Links: Marxism in Michigan

Over the last few months I've been helping a person who has been falsely accused by the local prosecutor. I know my friend has been falsely accused because I am intimately involved and party to the situation. Last week my friend was summoned to court, and asked me to respond to the charging 2-page petition. I wrote 12 pages and sent to the defense attorney. I have never seen anything so shoddy, evil, and malicious...and coming from the Oakland County Prosecution's office that is sworn to uphold and protect the constitution and the laws of the State of Michigan. I could never come to that conclusion except the petition claims to communicate the facts about situations in which I was present, and in fact my name is used. Of course, I am misquoted, etc.

I have a second friend that committed suicide last summer under what many of us believe was a coerced confession, if in fact my friend confessed to anything. The notes and diaries that were left behind gave no indication of any guilt or malady. This second friend was meek, mild, and trusting. The detective involved has a reputation of being mean and ruthless. My friend could easily of collapsed under such a tyrannical treatment as has been reported to me.

I watched a YouTube video of a 14 year old boy being harassed during interrogation by detectives regarding the murder of a girl. The poor boy maintained his innocence, but the detectives lied about how they knew he did the deed, and were generally trying to break him down under false pretense. He didn't break, but 10 years later was put away for 9 years in prison for the murder. Just recently DNA confirmed that he was all along telling the truth and they let him out of prison. Life ruined.

Tonight, I read the blog of Daniel Turner, a local man who fought off sexual molestation charges twice in a year. Finally, after he had mortgaged his house to defend himself, lost his job, and local reputation as a terrific soccer coach of a kids league, the cops and prosecution declared it was all a mistaken identity and let him go free, without so much as an apology. Of course his life is ruined.

Then, a close friend told me of a man who is in prison for sexual abuse because a young mentally disturbed girl accused him on the testimony stand. Although she has a record of a troubled youth, and the man has none, her solo testimony about a single event that supposedly happened 2 years ago, has put him away for life. She's reported by some to be vindictive. He has maintained his innocence. The cops could find no collaborating evidence from his home, relatives, or other witnesses. Yet the court's found him guilty and he's not in solitary confinement because if he was out of his cell the other prisoners would kill, a convicted, but I believe innocent man.

And let's not forget Mike Nifong.

If I wasn't involved with my friend, I'd think little about any of this. But I see what it's doing to my friend's family, and my friend. It's horrible. My friend is at times irrational, but why not when the last year's events, at the hand of the Oakland County Prosecutor's office as been so irrational and lacking in justice. It's as if the 94 assistant prosecutor's have nothing else to do, but to create work in order to save their jobs.

If you know of other stories of people that were falsely accused here in Michigan, especially Oakland County, and whose life has been ruined because of overzealous cops, and ambiguous prosecutors, please contact me.

Let's get some laws and procedures on the books that will prevent false charges so easily without strong collaborating evidence.


One person wrote, and put me on to The Innocence Project. A great website for all of us to visit. The videos are engaging -- interviews with men and women wrongly convicted. Click on the image of their home page above.

I also saw a quote that was valuable, and describes myself. "Another key to happiness: Refuse to be upset with injustice unless you're ranting only 5% of the time and working constructively 95% of the time to correct it."

The following is quoted from:

The criminal prosecutors achieve or expect to achieve fame, fortune and power by racking up criminal-case victories regardless of the guilt or innocence of the accused under existing principles of law. They readily learn that the way to become elected or appointed to Congress, the state or local Legislature, a judgeship, district attorney or U.S. Attorney position or other governmental office, is to get and publicize convictions, and to maintain that they are just in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary in too many cases.

The consequences for the overzealous prosecutor is too often the sought-after fame, fortune, power and political position, but the victims (including virtually everyone in the community) are left to pay the bill for wrongful incarceration, excessive criminal proceedings, destroyed families, wrongfully-confiscated property depriving a newly-accused defendant of the funds to defend himself/herself, wrongfully-impoverished families requiring governmental assistance, loss of skilled workers, loss of voters needed to strike a more just political balance in the country, and various other consequences which need to be explored by the press and book authors.

Here's a few sites of interest:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Other Frontier of Iraq

Today, Pam and I took in an opportunity to participate in the first Iraqi Cultural Week of the Iraqi Artists Association, held at Madonna University (Livonia, MI), the local Catholic University run by the Felician Sisters.

We were invited by a past film student of mine, Weam Namou -- an accomplished author, columnist, poet, and hope to be soon filmmaker —oh, yeah...and most importantly a new mom.

What is of interest about Weam, to me, is that she is an active mainstream Iraqi-American writer, who approaches the intersection of those two cultures fro
m a Chaldean (Iraqi Christian, e.g. Catholic) perspective. If you don't know, Chaldean Catholics are the minority group of Christians in Iraqi; and just as a reminder, the first Biblical characters from the books of Moses [Abraham. Adam, Even, Noah, the stories of the tower of Babel, Nineveh (Hear! Hear!) and Abraham] were Iraqi.

Today, at the event, I had the privilege to talk for a few minutes with Amer Hanna Fatuhi, a featured artist, lecturer and historian. We talked about what Americans "don't know" about Iraq. What they think they know centers around the war and the radical elements that hold the whole region hostage. The Other Frontier of Iraq (the name of the artist exhibition this past week and next at Madonna) is attempting to communicate with Americans about the richness that is the soul of Iraq and it's ancient civilization, Mesopotamia. "By sharing their visual arts, music and writing, a group of talented Iraqi descendants create a dialogue between the East and West in the hopes of improving communication and understanding." (Hint to our good Iraqi hosts: The music session today was great, and I really enjoyed myself and meeting you. But I did not understand a word you said or sang when you were speaking/singing in Arabic (?). If you want to communicate to Americans on American soil, and as many of you are American citizens, please, speak to us in English, or hand out the lyrics in English. I would have loved to have had a translation so I could have followed along. No, please don't sing your traditional music in English—that would be horrible. But an interlinear translation would be fabulous.)

I've never taken much to the minor chord based music that comes out of that region, but today a talented quintet and vocalist did a fine job of introducing us Americans to the "deep-rooted Iraqi music, which goes back more than 7,000 yeas and is part of the ancient Mesopotamian heritage. The embedded video clip (shot from the hip) will give you a taste of this fascinating music that should remind us Bible folk what Abraham listened to for enjoyment.

There's not enough room here to share all I learned today, but here are some links that I recommend following up on.

First, the two published short novels by Weam. Pam and I read aloud The Feminine Art to each other over a year ago. Great story, and wonderful metaphors about an extended family of Iraqi-Americans trying to play match-maker for a rebellious Iraqi-American young man, and the cultural challenges the whole family faces. The Mismatched Braid, Weam Namou's second novel, sits here on my desk, and Pam and I hope to read it soon. It too is about the attempts of romance, as a young man flees Iraq and Saddam's military, ends up in Greece where he attempts to win the love of his American cousin who comes to Greece for a semester, in an attempt to make it to America. Weam reminds us that "the first writer in recorded history was Enheduanna, a woman from ancient Iraq, 2,000 years before Aristotle.... and that man's most important invention, the wheel, was devised in Mesopotamia, as was plumbing, the plow, and the sailboat."

Weam is also a published poet and columnist, and president of the Iraqi Artist Association... who is too busy to blog. Our loss. I tried today to convince her otherwise.

Amer told me today -- as he took notice of Pam's small gold crucifix necklace -- of how, in Iraq, just recently, his sister-in-law was confronted by a radical Muslim who demanded that she remove the crucifix from her neck. Amer's sister-in-law said that she would not deny the love and devotion for her Lord Jesus Christ. When the man threatened to blow her head off, if she didn't comply, she told him to go ahead and shoot her, because she would never deny Christ. The man shot his sister-in-law in the head...killing her instantly. This is the fate of Iraqi Catholics today. Pray for them, and the repose of Amer's sister-in-law's soul. You can read more about Amer and his fabulous art at the Mesopotamia Art Gallery.

Now, two quick notes I can't pass up.
Madonna University is on a square mile of property that the Felician Sisters purchased who knows how many millennium ago, just a few miles from where we live. My daughter, April, proudly received her B.A. in English Literature and Early Childhood Development from Madonna. On that property is their huge mother house, a hospice, a childcare center, a major hospital with a heliport on top, a retirement community, and the large and respected Catholic University, Madonna. Now, the second story. Pam, my wife, teaches in the public school only a few miles away. One day, a 7th grade girl came up to Pam -- who had been talking to her Life Skills class about going to college and mentioning the local schools that were a possibility -- and the girl says to my wife, "What I can't understand is why the Catholic Church would name one of its universities after a rock star."

And on that note, I'm going to bed.