Thanks for Colorado Law School for Skype chatting with us about how De-Bug and our friends (the FIRE Coalition) were able to win the most progressive immigrant detainer policy in the nation. Hoping other communities fight ICE’s attempt to use our local courts and jails for their delivery system into deportation.
Thanks to Professor Cohen and the Harvard Law School students who participated in our ACJP/De-Bug skype training on our model last week! We shared our social biography video concept, and really appreciated the insightful and illuminating dialogue with the new generation of legal eagles at Harvard. It was a late night for them to be doing the session, so appreciated their commitment, and was great being able to introduce them to our community and space at De-Bug. Looking forward to more opportunities to discuss how family, community, and innovation can transform the courts! If you’re a law school, firm, organization, or public defender office, and are interested in learning more, just send us an inquiry about trainings at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We recently had the honor to join the Gideon’s Promise camp in Atlanta, and share our Social Biography Video tool, and other concepts to ensure family and community voice can be included in the court process. This school for young public defenders practicing in the South was featured last year in the HBO aired documentary Gideon’s Army. (Read Raj Jayadev’s piece about the film entitled, “Gideon’s Army Deserves Back Up.”)
Gideon’s Promise is an incredibly inspiring movement of public defender’s that is no doubt a game-changer when it comes to re-imagining indigent defense in this country. We look forward to continue to build with them! Here are a couple flix:
The keynote speaker for the graduation of the recent class of Gideon’s Promise attorneys was Anthony Graves. He did 18 years for a crime he didn’t commit, and had his execution date set twice. Since winning his freedom in 2010, he has dedicated his time to ensuring others do not fall victim to wrongful convictions. (Read the Grio’s coverage of Mr. Graves and Gideon’s Promise here.)
De-Bug’s ACJP shared examples of our Social Biography Video tool. The defender’s were very appreciative, and we are trying to identify ways we can start these in the South!
Family law attorney, human rights advocate, and ACJP volunteer Robin Yeamans was interviewed on Legal Victories Blog Talk. Check out the link here or click on image:
Cesar’s family came to De-Bug almost at their wit’s end. Their son was nearing the end of his 9 year prison sentence and was facing imminent deportation. During the 9 years, his family had searched for a lawyer, only to be told it was too complicated. However, we helped find a fierce immigration lawyer and advocate in Helen Lawrence to complete our team. ”Team Cesar” — his family, church, and community support — put together an almost 200 page mitigation packet of Cesar’s life; helped find experts for his case; organized community support at hearings; conducted fundraisers for his legal defense. His entire community bonded together to help push for Cesar’s release, which resulted in a habeas release granted in criminal court, re-sentencing, and a bond hearing in immigration court that freed Cesar from almost 10 years in custody (almost 9 years in prison, and over a year in immigration detention). Click here to hear his story and see the photo essay. Photography by Charisse Domingo
When Mary and her mom came to De-Bug two years ago with arms full of court files, we were struck by the determination that they walked with. Mary’s brother had been sentenced to life 19 years prior for a non-serious and non-violent crime due to Three Strikes. They came regularly to meetings, poured over the case file with other ACJP organizers, and spoke with legal experts. This week, after a long and winding road, they are bringing their brother home, after he has won his re-sentencing hearing! We would say it’s amazing, they would say they knew it all along. Think we’re both right. Here are some shots chronicling their journey. We will be airing a mini-documentary on their family as part of our Time Saved Film Series, debuting this Winter. (If you have a story you think would make for a Time Saved Film, send us an email! email@example.com
November 2012 — Mary and her mom reading about Proposition 36, finding the possible path to their brother and son’s release from a life sentence.
December 2013 — Mary going to meet with the attorney after gathering letters of support at De-Bug. To see post, click image.
December 2013 — The family right outside court at weeks before the re-sentencing hearing. This family packed the courtroom, definitely making their presence felt.
January 2014 — The moment Mary and her family have waited and worked for — when the judges orders her brother’s release after 19 years. His attorney says it was the first Prop.36 release in Stanislaus County history.
January 2014 — Mary and Blanca sitting in front of the court, sharing a moment after winning the re-sentencing hearing. These two always knew this day would come.
The New York Times put out an editorial regarding what they call “rampant prosecutorial misconduct” which is occurring in both state and federal courts. They observe that prosecutor offices are often set up to disincentivize prosecutors from handing over exculpatory evidence. The piece cites an appellate judge stating, “only judges can stop” Brady violations. But prosecutors office’s, elected positions, can be also held to account by the community to which they serve. The more impacted communities understand the power they wield, the more courts and their institutions can be held to higher standards of fairness and justice.
Rampant Prosecutorial Misconduct — By THE EDITORIAL BOARD In the justice system, prosecutors have the power to decide what criminal charges to bring, and since 97 percent of cases are resolved without a trial, those decisions are almost always the most important factor in the outcome. That is why it is so important for prosecutors to play fair, not just to win. This obligation is embodied in the Supreme Court’s 1963 holding in Brady v. Maryland, which required prosecutors to provide the defense with any exculpatory evidence that could materially affect a verdict or sentence. read more >>>
When a mother’s son was picked up for a serious offense, she did what many parents do — she cleaned out her bank account to hire a private attorney. The attorney spoke confidently at first, giving the impression that the young man would be in good hands if they hired this attorney. The communication slowed to a near stop after the money was paid. The mother asked for an accounting of what work the attorney did for all of the money she was paid. The itemization included time used to read text messages and send text messages to the mother. Since the attorney charged $350 an hour, the attorney charged the family $385 for 8 text messages. We won’t even tell you how much she charged to listen to voicemails!
De-Bug and ACJP was profiled on KQED’s Forum show last Friday as part of their series on Bay Area leader and innovators. Raj was allowed to share the story of De-Bug, why families are the untapped resource in the criminal justice reform movement, and a new innovation that is changing sentence mitigation called “social biography videos.” Click the image to listen!
Armed with letters from the community, Mary heads out to Modesto for a final meeting with the attorney of her brother. He is serving a life sentence, and has been inside for 18 years already. With the passage of Proposition 36, he now has the possibility of being re-sentenced, which would lead to his release. Mary started coming to De-Bug and advocating for her brother well before the 3 Strikes Reform. Some attorneys told her his release was unlikely. But then again, most did not expect her to get this far. Next week, Mary, her family, and De-Bug will be caravaning to the his court date, to hopefully witness the start of a re-unification of this family. (See the photo of Mary from the beginning of the year, when her and her mother first learned that her brother may be on the list of potential re-sentences.)