Feb 052015
 

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Feb 042015
 

Who does not know the 60-year old classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee and the movie featuring Gregory Peck as lawyer Atticus Finch, who defends an Afro-American defendant being tried for rape of a white young woman in the State of Alabama during the Great Depression of the 1930s?

One of the key scenes is Atticus Finch’s cross examination of alleged rape victim Mayella Ewell. It plays a role in the book “Louisiana v. Vincent Simmons: Frame-up in Avoyelles Parish.”

Harper Lee’s first book was “Go Set a Watchman.” It was the original but eventually became the sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Finch’s daughter Scout returns home from New York in the 1950s to visit her father. According to the publisher’s announcement: “She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.”

“Go Set a Watchman” is released on July 14, 2015.

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Jan 312015
 

The evidence of his set up is for anyone readable in the open. When will Vincent Simmons of Avoyelles Parish be freed and exonerated at last?

See the long list of exonerated prisoners on the IIPPI Forum and the report of the National Registry of Exonerations of January 27, 2015. The increase from 91 exonerations in 2013 to 125 in 2014 is explained by the rise of “Conviction Integrity Units.”

In Louisiana, Reginald Adams (murder), Nathan Brown (sexual assault) and Glenn Ford (murder) were exonerated. All of them are African Americans.

How to Force Prosecutors to Play Fair? Or: How to Stop Overzealous Prosecutors?
Money is the key. Read on at www.iippi.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=170&t=15841&p=21936#p21936

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Jan 082015
 

Comment

Co-Editor Raymond L. Daye of the Avoyelles Today writes in his article “Simmons wants hearing moved due to judge’s comments” on January 8, 2015, “Vincent Simmons, serving 100 years in Angola for convictions in connection with the rape of two girls in 1977, is seeking to have a hearing on his latest motions moved to another parish due to a judge’s comments about the case.” Read on at http://www.avoyellestoday.com/index.php/news/1871-simmons-wants-hearing-moved-due-to-judge-s-comments

The article also reports about Simmons’ prior mere arrests. Most of them, Simmons had never been indicted and tried for, let alone convicted of. Therefore, what serves this part of the article for other than giving rise to prejudice?

If it is about catching a glimpse of Simmons’ background, is the criminal background of the state’s star witness (who committed perjury at Simmons’ trial) not as important as well? Since newspaper articles only can cover a small fraction of the bigger picture, I am of the opinion that either no prior criminal record is revealed to the public or all involved parties’ background checks are exposed.

Co-Editor Daye reports “Aggravated rape of a juvenile carried the death penalty in 1977. The charges were amended to attempted aggravated rape before trial, removing the possibility of a death sentence.”

It sounds as though District Attorney “Eddie” Knoll, i.e. his wife and Assistant District Attorney Jeannette Theriot Knoll, along with Judge Earl Edwards acted on Simmons’ behalf. Yet, this is not the case at all. Daye once again fails to mention all the relevant facts and I wonder why he does that.

As I explained in detail in the chapter “Change of Charge” of the book Louisiana v. Vincent Simmons: Frame-up in Avoyelles Parish of 2011 (which is available at the local library for review!), the new aggravated rape statute in the aftermath of Gregg v. Georgia, Selman v. Louisiana  and Coker v. Georgia replaced the death penalty with a life sentence and became effective on July 10, 1977 – three days after Vincent Simmons’ preliminary hearing and eight days before his trial.

Since Simmons allegedly committed the crime on May 9, 1977, i.e. before this new statute became effective, he had to be sentenced -if found guilty of aggravated rape- as those who were resentenced from the death penalty to twenty years. Now comes the outragous: The law imposed a fifty-year sentence on those who were convicted of attempted aggravated rape, and this is the only reason why the prosecutors and the judge amended the indictment without the Grand Jury’s knowledge, let alone a True Bill, behind closed doors.

Mr. Daye, please read the book before you continue to write half-truths! The public deserves better.

Also see “Routine Character Assassination of Innocents” at http://vincentsimmons.iippi.org/2014/10/02/routine-character-assassination-of-innocents/

“Race Card: Judge Jeansonne’s Last Verbal Bangers” at http://vincentsimmons.iippi.org/2014/12/31/race-card-judge-jeansonnes-last-verbal-bangers/

and the case summary with documents on the Innocent in Prison Project International website at http://cases.iippi.org/vincent-alfred-simmons/.

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Jan 022015
 

Comment

After an interview with Karen Sanders and her twin sister Sharon Chism, there is another newspaper article by the Town Talk with no news about the victims’ point of view.

Simmons’ victims vow to continue fight
By Melissa Gregory | mgregory@thetowntalk.com | (318) 792-1807 7:12 p.m. CST December 31, 2014
http://www.thetowntalk.com/story/news/l … /21130275/

Both women say all three were interviewed separately, and Sharon said that the infamous “all blacks look alike” quote was a way of keeping the secret.

When the girls reported the crime on May 22, 1977, Sheriff “Potch” Didier interviewed them separately (i.e. one after the other), but they were and stayed in the same room together all the time. Each one of them should have been interviewed alone, i.e. without having the sister by the side, in order to avoid mutual influencing.

Interestingly, they are still interviewed together and handled as a double pack nowadays. There is no Sharon without Karen.

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Dec 312014
 

Graphic: Ensuring equal justice under law versa the interlocking of different interests.

Graphic: Ensuring equal justice under law versa the interlocking of different interests.

Comment

Vincent Simmons told me a while ago that he had mailed a Writ of Habeas Corpus to the trial court at Marksville on October 31, 2014. It was filed on November 6, 2014. He used information contained in the book “Louisiana v. Vincent Simmons: Frame-up in Avoyelles Parish,” which had not been used in any motion before. Simmons says, the court (Judge Mark Jeansonne) ordered the district attorney to answer by December 16, 2014. On December 18th, Judge Jeansonne scheduled a hearing on the motion, reports the Avoyelles Today. But  after opening the session, the judge ruled to postpone any further proceedings until next year. Why?

Today is Judge Jeansonne’s last day in office. His second term expires and tomorrow Kerry Spruill is the new judge (Division A) of the 12th judicial district. Spruill is dealing with the case next year. (See his background at http://vincentsimmons.iippi.org/2014/10/24/judge-mark-jeansonne-and-his-successor/)

Now at the end of 2014, Jeansonne does not leave his position without firing his last verbal bangers and using the local newspapers (Avoyelles Today and The Town Talk) to spread half-truths (if not even lies) about the only case before him, which gained not only national but international attention.

The Town Talk article is based on the Avoyelles Today article. Therefore, I only comment on the latter:

  • The victims’ cousin was not tied up, but allegedly put in the trunk of his own car.
  • Co-Editor Daye writes, “Then-District Attorney Eddie Knoll amended the aggravated rape indictments to attempted aggravated rape.” For whatever reason Daye does not mention the outrageous: This was illegal, because it was done secretly behind closed doors. There is no True Bill in which the Grand Jury voted on trying Vincent Simmons for attempted aggravated rape. The Grand Jury indicted Vincent Simmons, because the jurors decided that there was evidence of aggravated rape. Accordingly, there was no evidence for mere attempt. However, the “attempt” conviction carried a much longer sentence at that time than an actual aggravated rape conviction. Thus, the Grand Jury should have been called in again to decide on whether or not to indict Simmons for attempted aggravated rape. This never happened, and the people in Louisiana should do know!
  • The co-editor quotes Jeansonne, “In fact, in the recent judge’s election, one candidate lost many votes because he would not ‘promise’ Simmons a new trial. Judges have to be independent and free from undue influence of any kind.” Does this mean that Judge Kerry Spruill was elected because he promised anything to Simmons’ supporters?! I doubt that Spruill agrees with this allegation or logical conclusion. Yes, elected judges are supposed to be independent, which contradicts itself. Ensuring equal justice under law often clashes with the interlocking of different interests. Why are not all judges (not only federal judges) appointed or obligated to climb up the ladder like other professionals?
  • Jeansonne complains about Simmons playing the race-card. I do not know who is crying racism, but one thing is certain: When Judge Jeansonne chose to discuss the case publicly on the IIPPI Forum with me, he was the only one who made race a central theme. This alone demonstrates that after all these years he still does not get to the core of the problem in this case. It is about police misconduct, prosecutorial misconduct, judicial misconduct, ineffectiveness of counsel and perjury – not race! But of course, since most Avoyelleans are white, they may feel insulted or annoyed without looking into the case themselves, if they believe what Judge Jeansonne alleges about Simmons and his supporters. Is this Jeansonne’s goal? Does he want to “inflame” the citizens of the parish?

I wonder why Jeansonne talks publicly about a specific case in the first place. I also wonder why this one case is always Simmons’. If Jeansonne is so convinced of Simmons being guilty and just trying to fool everyone, Jeansonne could just lay back, relax and move on with his lawyer life. Why wasting time for nonsense?!

Judge Spruill, please do the right thing! – Does Jeansonne not sleep well at night anymore? It would be understandable, would it not? One simply cannot be convinced of anything that one cannot corroborate with proof, while evidence of the contrary literally jumps at one.

The newspaper articles are entitled:

“Jeansonne has parting words in Simmons’ case”
by Raymond L. Daye, Co-Editor
published Dec. 22, 2014
http://avoyellestoday.com/index.php/news/1830-jeansonne-has-parting-words-in-simmons-case

and

“Change of venue requested after remarks by Avoyelles judge”
by Melissa Gregory
published Dec. 30, 2014
http://www.thetowntalk.com/story/news/local/2014/12/30/change-venue-requested-remarks-avoyelles-judge/21070819/

I have seen somewhere else on the internet that people still ask, why this case has never been properly investigated by law enforcement officers, or why Simmons is denied relief from prison. The answer is in the book “Louisiana v. Vincent Simmons: Frame-up in Avoyelles Parish.” But logically, as you may have seen on the IIPPI Forum, some involved Avoyelleans like Mark Jeansonne would not want you to read it.

This may interest you as well:

http://vincentsimmons.iippi.org/2014/10/24/judge-mark-jeansonne-and-his-successor/

Case summary with documents on the Innocent in Prison Project International website at http://cases.iippi.org/vincent-alfred-simmons/

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Dec 212014
 

Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C.

Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963; Photo: Rowland Scherman for USIA

Most people do not agree with keeping innocent prisoners incarcerated. Some of them try to help. But very often, they do not see any positive results after years. Frustrated they move on with their lives and the wrongfully convicted stays where he (or she) does not belong.

What is needed is a real, i.e. effective, concept. And that is pretty much political. Effective campaigns do not get around political campaigns. See all the successful organizations and lobbyists! All of them contact those in power. And who does matter to politicians and legislators? The performance principle governs our civilization, so the strongest usually prevails. Unfortunately, often it is not the morality but the money that convinces.
There is probably hardly anyone (in a powerful position or not) who is not potentially corrupt. It is just a matter of the price. Example: XY wants ZZ to do something, but ZZ does not want to.
XY: How much do you want?
ZZ: Nothing, I’ll not do it.
XY: Come on! …100.00 $? …1000.00 $? …10,000.00 $? …100,000.00? …1,000,000.00 $? …

Human rights activists and civil rights activists seldom have the funds needed to act like XY. Their power is people – especially masses of voters, who are capable of voting out ZZ or his party. Theoretically, those masses one day might found their own party. Or better even: Look what happened in Germany on November 9, 1989 (25 years ago) when the wall and a whole system came down! In the aftermath, the Cold War between the USA and Russia ended in 1991. “We are the people” was the slogan. And people do have immense power, if ignited.

As paradoxical as it may sound, Germany post-World War II (70 years ago) also was the germ cell of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s in the USA. When black American soldiers freed the German people from its dictatorship, no one of sound mind wanted to be a Nazi anymore. Afro-Americans dated white “Fräuleins” (“Misses”; a term for young, unmarried women, which nowadays is rarely used) and were served in restaurants or bars without problems. At times, they were even more popular than their white comrades, who – due to the color of their skin – still had way more rights in their home country. (The Equal Justice Initiative has released the report entitled “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror.” There were at least 3,959 victims of “racial terror lynchings” in 12 Southern states from 1877 to 1950 – 540 of them in Louisiana.)

The Germans and the Afro-Americans had something in common: Both were subject to the whims of Caucasian Americans – each in his own way. Thus, they could perfectly identify with each other. Logical consequence: There was no (official) racism or segregation in postwar-Germany. It was the first time that those black Americans experienced equality, felt like respected Americans instead of second or third class citizens.

Among them were Dr. Leon Bass (educator, see video below) and Charles Johnson (lawyer for the NAACP and judge). Former U.S. Secretary of State and retired four-star general Colin Powell would still feel this “breath of freedom” a decade later, when he was stationed in Gelnhausen near Frankfurt. Back in the USA, those same black veterans were the ones who started to fight for their own civil rights. The Civil Rights Movement was born.

If the German nation has learned one thing from the Hitler era and the Holocaust, then it is this: Do not look away! Do not be silent! And act before it is too late! Nowadays Germany is one of the most democratic countries worldwide with politically (relatively) active citizens.

One of the most important steps to take is to make use of the right to vote – always!
In Germany, everyone (including prisoners) 18 (sometimes also 16) years of age and older is eligible to vote on election days and invited by regular mail. One just must bring his or her ID card and the electoral card (personal invitation to vote).

In the USA, one does not automatically qualify to vote. Interested citizens must have registered (applied) to vote 30 days prior to the election. One can do that online on the website of the Secretary of State, depending on where you live. In Louisiana, one may also register personally at the:
• Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles;
• Louisiana Department of Social Services;
• WIC offices;
• food stamp offices;
• medicaid offices;
• offices serving persons with disabilities such as the Deaf Action Centers and Independent Living Offices; or
• armed forces recruitment offices.

Do not just think “Free Vincent Simmons” or hope for “Justice for Vincent Simmons!” It will not alter anything. Be a part of the change and act publicly! Never ever say that you cannot make a difference anyway! Everything is possible on this planet.

This might interest you as well:

http://vincentsimmons.iippi.org/2014/11/24/bill-clintons-habeas-reform/

http://vincentsimmons.iippi.org/2014/10/24/judge-mark-jeansonne-and-his-successor/

Case summary with documents on the Innocent in Prison Project International website at http://cases.iippi.org/vincent-alfred-simmons/

How Germany does Prison – Americans on a mind-boggling incarceration road trip. (from June 16th through June 21st 2015)

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Nov 262014
 

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Nov 252014
 


Cameron Tillman, 14-year-old boy shot, killed by Terrebonne deputy. HOUMA, LA (WVUE)

Every year, the FBI releases numbers of police killed and assaulted, but there are no official numbers of police shootings, let alone a Police Offenders Registry. Now in the aftermath of the killing of an unarmed African American teenager in Ferguson (Missouri), this might change at last.

Vincent Simmons was shot by a sheriff deputy when he refused to confess to a crime he had not committed. The officer has never been held accountable for his misconduct so far.

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Nov 232014
 

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