The struggle that has taken place in recent years in Benton Harbor is a case in point, and one that holds a number of lessons for the American people. The fight in Benton Harbor is a war over whether Americans will have justice.
Rev. Edward Pinkney is a victim of the struggle. He was convicted by an all-white jury that was motivated by something other than the truth. The jury had unrevealed, deeply-held racial prejudices. The verdict was not based on a desire to achieve a just, fair, or moral outcome.
Rev. Pinkney was charged under MCL 167.937 with five felony counts of forgery based on allegations that he altered dates next to signatures on petitions to recall Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower. Rev. Pinkney was convicted by an all white jury with absolutely no evident that he committed the crime.
Rev. Pinkney is in Lakeland Correctional Facility, better known as the penitentiary in Coldwater, Michigan. He applied for an appeal bond on July 6, 2015, and on Aug. 4, 2015, the bond was denied. Judge Douglas B. Shapiro would have granted the bond pending appeal, but Judge Joel P. Hoekstra and David H. Sawyer denied bond pending appeal.
Rev. Pinkney has already raised substantial issues in the trial court and will raise substantial issues in the merit brief that will be filed in the Court of Appeals.
Rev. Pinkney's brief in support of motion for bond sets forth, in substantial detail, issues that will be included in his merits brief on appeal. Additional issues may also be raised in the merits brief on appeal. The issues raised will prevent retrial.
Pursuant to MCL 7.219, Rev. Pinkney seeks reconsideration of the Court of Appeal's Aug. 4, 2015, order denying bond pending appeal. A palpable error occurred if the Court of Appeals accepted the prosecution's argument which misled and stated that the Court of Appeals could only grant bond pending appeal if the trial court abused its discretion in denying bond pending appeal. The prosecution cited no case law indicating that the abuse of discretion standard applies when the Court of Appeals is asked to grant bond pending appeal.
The Court of Appeals must exercise independent judgment when deciding a motion for bond pending appeal. The Court's independent exercise of discretion should result in the granting of bond pending appeal.
"A heavy and cruel hand has been laid upon me. The greater the good one seeks to do the greater the trials one must endure. The more worthy the goal of the good one seeks to do, the greater the effort one must put forth to succeed in the doing of that which is good. We must continue to fight for what is right. The corruption in Berrien County must be stopped!" -Rev. Pinkney