November 10, 2008
Mr. Michael Curley, Warden
Ojibway Correctional Facility
N5705 Ojibway Road
Marenisco, MI 49947-9771
Re: Reverend Edward Pinkney, # 294671
Dear Warden Curley:
We have received communications that Correctional Officer R. Axley was purportedly directed to shakedown Reverend Pinkney’s cell and control area on November 1, 2008. According to reports, he did so in a destructive and illegal manner, soiling clean clothes, destroying food and reading legal mail. This is the second report that I have received of violation of the prohibition against the reading of legal mail. Axley apparently spent approximately 30 minutes doing so.
I have advised my client to grieve this action. In addition, this is a separate complaint, requesting an investigation. Do you have written records of the order for shakedown and the results? Videotapes? Witnesses? This is to request that you gather and preserve them.
You know by now that Pinkney is the clearest example of a political prisoner within the MDOC. He was attacked by the Berrien County establishment after he successfully recalled the most powerful and corrupt politician in Benton Harbor and convicted by an all white jury, based on the testimony of bribed and intimidated prostitutes, drug dealers and people with pending criminal charges. The case is on appeal.
Then, his probation was violated for quoting the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy regarding the curses that will be visited upon the unjust by God if they do not change their ways. The Court decided that it was a “true threat” outside the parameters of the First Amendment and therefore a violation of probation. He thus became the first preacher in the history of America to be imprisoned for quoting the Bible.
We assume that he was transferred to your institution because of the state and national publicity surrounding his case and the requests for interviews and visits by the press and supporters. Obviously, as the Green Party nominee to oppose Congressman Fred Upton, he has powerful and influential enemies in the state and local governments. The question is whether you will allow your institution to aid and abet this ignoble enterprise.
We have a clemency petition pending before Governor Granholm. We are FOIA’ing all of Pinkney’s MDOC records. We intend to protest and publicize every illegal, retaliatory or vindictive action taken against him.
I suggest that the MDOC does not have a dog in this fight. Pinkney is clearly no threat to anyone, including institutional security. The authorities in Benton Harbor and Berrien County have tried in vain for years to catch him doing anything wrong and they could not even come up with a parking ticket. However easier it might be to run your institution without a sympathetic political prisoner in it, mere inconvenience is no basis for any mistreatment of Pinkney.
By separate letter I am advising Pinkney to grieve and press through the third step every wrongful action taking against him, including opening or reading legal mail. We won on that point while he was in the Berrien County Jail. For your information, Pinkney has the following attorneys:
His trial and appellate counsel:
Hugh M. Davis
Constitutional Litigation Associates, P.C.
450 W. Fort Street Suite 200
Detroit, Michigan 48226
Elliott S. Hall
Dykema Gossett, P.L.L.C.
400 Renaissance Center
Detroit, MI 48243
Timothy M. Holloway
P.O. Box 296
Taylor, MI 48180
His counsel on the probation violation appeal and for bond.
Michael J. Steinberg, Legal Director
Daniel S. Korobkin, Staff Attorney
ACLU of Michigan
2966 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 578-6814/Fax: (313) 578-6811
James J. Walsh and Rebecca D’Arcy O’Reilly
201 S. Division Street, Suite 400
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
His clemency counsel:
Kelly A. Flint
530 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
(734) 763-9920/Fax: (734) 936-0844
In short, Reverend Pinkney will be receiving numerous communications from various counsel on a regular basis. We understand that it is an unusual situation, but we do not expect his Sixth Amendment right to counsel to be interfered with in any way, particularly including opening and reading of mail to and from Pinkney.
Thank you for your attention to this.
Hugh M. Davis