STAGE SET FOR SENTENCING AN INNOCENT MAN
The stage is set for the sentencing of Rev. Edward Pinkney on May 14 in St. Joseph, Michigan. Pinkney’s attorneys have received the pre-sentence investigation (PSI), which recommends that Pinkney be sentenced to a minimum of 14 and a maximum of 43 months in prison.
Pinkney’s attorneys will argue that the sentencing guidelines were incorrectly scored and that the minimum/maximum range should be lower. Even then, Pinkney is almost certain to get some time in jail or prison.
On Monday, May 7, Pinkney’s lawyers filed a motion for bond pending appeal and another motion to delay the sentencing because the Legislature is considering changes in the law which would reduce the maximum penalties in Pinkney’s case from five years to two years.
Most importantly, Pinkney’s attorneys revealed to the judge and to the public for the first time that Pinkney passed a polygraph (lie detector) test on April 13 on all issues. The polygraph was conducted by Christopher J. Lanfear, the polygraph examiner for the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department. There is no question of Mr. Lanfear’s integrity and impartiality.
Pinkney was asked the following of series of questions:
1. (Q) Did you direct Brenda Fox to illegally influence any voter?
2. (Q) Regarding Brenda Fox, did you recruit her to pay people five dollars to vote?
3. (Q) Did you handle absentee ballots from either of the Williams’ sisters (Danielle and LaToya), like they said?
4. (Q) Did you handle an absentee ballot from Rosie Miles, like she said?
After analyzing Pinkney’s responses to those questions, which cover every act that he stands convicted of, Lanfear wrote:
It is the opinion of the undersigned examiner, based on the analysis of the polygraph examination of EDWARD JUNIOR PINKNEY, that he is being truthful to the pertinent test questions.
Pinkney’s attorneys gave the prosecutor a confidential copy of the report and offered for Pinkney to take another test. The prosecution refused.
Is it because they do not care? Because they already know he is innocent, having framed him in the first place? Because they do not want to have him pass their own test and have it used against them? Whatever the reason, it is clear that the prosecutor, like the all-white jury, is not interested in truth and justice.
Although polygraph tests are not admissible as evidence, the test supports Pinkney’s argument for the most lenient possible sentence and for bond pending appeal.
WHAT WILL THE COURTS DO WHEN THEY KNOW THEY HAVE CONVICTED AN INNOCENT MAN?
WHAT WILL WE DO TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY “DO THE RIGHT THING?”
The second significant development is that the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan has recommended to the Legislature, and the Governor agrees, that the maximum penalty for the felonies against Pinkney should be reduced from five years to two years. Getting the Judge to delay the sentencing would be a significant victory and an indication that he is inclined to be lenient. The legislation is being held up because of the overall budget crisis in Michigan; not much legislation will go forward until some of those problems are solved.
WE MUST PREPARE TO START A LEGISLATIVE CAMPAIGN.
On the question of the jury challenge and the all-white jury, Pinkney has filed a motion for reconsideration of the judge’s denial, showing that the information given to his lawyers and expert in order to analyze racial disparities was inadequate, incomplete, and prevented them from doing so. Further, the judge’s refusal to adjourn the trial so that there could be a further investigation of the necessary data to prove racial under-representation prevented Pinkney from having a fair hearing on this fundamental constitutional issue.
For all of the courageous court watchers who went to the trial and were either badly treated or prevented from getting into the courtroom, Pinkney’s lawyers have gathered affidavits from people about the fact that the television monitor where they were sent to watch jury selection did not work for about half the time. Further, even when it was working, it was not possible to see much, including the potential jurors.
After the trial began, security was tightened to the point where people were not allowed to enter the courtroom unless they were inside before the session began. Pinkney claims that these were violations of his constitutional right to a public trial.
The fact that the situation occurred at all is an indication of the overall fear and suspicion of Pinkney and his supporters by the Berrien County criminal justice system. The people who came to the trial were community supporters, church members, members of progressive organizations, progressive media, interested citizens, etc. They were united by one desire--to show support for a man who had fought for the community and was being falsely prosecuted because he was successful. They were respectful and interested. They represented no threat of disruption.
Pinkney’s attorneys are preparing other motions for the sentencing and appeal. We will update you as they are filed.
WHAT CAN YOU DO NOW?
1. Forward this message, emphasizing the fact that especially with the positive polygraph test, the judge has a duty to avoid sentencing or imprisoning an innocent man.
2. Ask the judge to delay the sentencing in light of the proposed legislation reducing Pinkney’s potential sentence.
3. Tell the judge that you want a full investigation of the jury system before Pinkney goes to jail. Tell him to give Pinkney a new trial under the new system.
4. Tell the judge that you, Pinkney, and his supporters are not violent, disruptive or threatening. You only want to see justice for Reverend Pinkney.
PLEASE SEND DIRECTLY TO:
Honorable Albert M. Butzbaugh Berrien County Circuit Court 811 Port Street St. Joseph, MI 49085-1187
AND A COPY TO:
Hugh M. Davis Constitutional Litigation Associates, P.C. 450 W. Fort Street, Suite 200 Detroit, MI 48226
THE TIME IS NOW!!!!
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