Why you should care about ensuring defendants get a fair trial

By Kira Fonteneau, Jefferson County Public Defender

On March 18, 1963, in “Gideon v. Wainwright,” the United States Supreme Court recognized that people who are charged with crimes are entitled to legal counsel even if they cannot afford to pay for it themselves. By upholding the constitutional right to an attorney, the Court empowered the justice system as a whole.

Kira Fonteneau, Jefferson County Public Defender c/o Kira Fonteneau
Kira Fonteneau, Jefferson County Public Defender c/o Kira Fonteneau

“Our state and national constitutions and laws have laid great emphasis on procedural and substantive safeguards designed to assure fair trials before impartial tribunals in which every defendant stands equal before the law,” declared Justice Hugo Black, an Alabama native, in the court’s opinion. “This noble ideal cannot be realized if the poor man charged with crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him.”

Since Gideon, a generation of lawyers and other professionals have worked tirelessly to defend clients who would otherwise be crushed under the weight of the criminal justice system.

As lawyers who represent the poor in Alabama, we know that many people have mixed feelings about the role criminal defense lawyers play in society.  It can be hard for the public to separate an individual from the grievous crimes he is accused of by the government. All too often, that societal distrust of alleged criminals is extended toward the people who defend them. As a result, there is a natural tendency to downplay the importance of providing a quality defense to those who are accused.

Justice is only possible when it is extended to all parties in the criminal system.

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A mothers cry for help

Kharon Davis has been held in the Houston County Jail for 9 years with no trial and no bond. The conditions within the jail are archaic, hateful, psychologically damaging and unconstitutional. Kharon is held in 23 hour lockdown for 4 years, in a constantly cold cell that is unhygienic, denied access to the law library, exercise yard and even the main inmate population.

Kharon Davis Initiative Flyer
Kharon Davis Initiative Flyer

Why has Kharon been denied his constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial? Please come and show your support for Kharon and the other inmates, many of whom have not even been to court yet, let alone been convicted of a crime, and to demand that Jail Commander Keith Reed drastically improve the conditions inline with the Department of Justices, National Institute Of Corrections, jails standards.

Inmate restrained in a chair and beaten unconscious, they broke his fingers too…

James Bailey in Houston County Jail
James Bailey in Houston County Jail

Jon B. Carroll from The Henry Report has obtained and released details of a horrific case of purposeful persecution and prosecution of a totally innocent man. James Bailey, in addition to being set up on drug charges, underwent a horrific and sustained beating, to the point of unconsciousness, he was taken to hospital and the following day, back at the jail, the beating continued including being handcuffed with his hands behind his back for 8-12 hours in a restraint chair, beaten with a metal pipe, maced, beaten around his head, punched and kicked all over his body, which resulted in brain and permanent nerve damage. They broke his fingers too, he also required stitches for some of his many injuries.  

 

C.J. Hatfield (age 22)
C.J. Hatfield (age 22)

Bailey was drugged at one point while he was in jail, given twice the allowable dosage and in the drug induced state (Prozac and Vistaril) gave what is interpreted by the Sheriff’s Dept as a confession to the murder of C.J. Hatfield. A murder, that he didn’t commit as he was in a different state at the time, which the Police, investigators and DA’s Office knew, but seemingly chose to prosecute him for it anyway. Click here to read the full story

When Carroll asked one of the former defence lawyers why was this not revealed, he said that Judge, Larry Anderson, would not do several things, he kept Bailey in chains and shackles in front of the jurors, we were given no money to hire a private investigator to simply verify the multiple alibis, nothing. We were scared, they wanted this guy guilty and we have to live here. The jury convicted Bailey after 15 minutes of deliberation, the exculpatory evidence was never shared. Bailey was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

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A Desperate Prayer For Houston County Jail By A.W

To All Who Read This :

May God bless and keep you and yours, I write to ask for your prayers.

In Houston County, Alabama there is such blatant evil. Everything that i have ever read about Nazi Germany, goes on at Houston County Jail, and Houston County itself is a den of evil that rivals mobsters. I myself went through Houston County Jail in 2015.

The experience broke me down physically, mentally and even spiritually. I had to ask myself why God would allow such abuse to take place. Through the time out of there i’ve gotten stronger and i now have a richer relationship with God. I now realize that he allows things in our life to make us stronger and dependent on him alone, so that he can show his power and glory in our lives.

I’m not beaten, through God and the wonderful person he blessed me with as my husband, who is a mountain of love, encouragement and integrity, i am motivated to write. I do question why the situation in Houston County, the corruption, the racism, the abuse of power and the conditions in Houston County Jail have been left to degenerate into that state that its now revealed to be in. I have to question, why isn’t someone in office who CAN do something about it, doing something about it?

Or is it like it was in Nazi Germany, where people just say “Oh how dreadful” and then turn a blind eye?

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Prison system setting inmates up for failure

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Montgomery Advertiser Dec 10, 2015

Has the public ever realized that the very ones the parole board deems too dangerous to release are the very ones released with no conditions or supervision?

This is the case of many, such as myself, who received a 25-year sentence for the murder of my husband. I have served almost 24 years and have been considered for parole many times. My district attorney, Doug Veleska, has ensured my hearings were nothing less than dramatic – just like my trial. Of course, one would only have to take the time to see just where his theatrics have gotten him these days.

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Innocent Man, Falsely Accused, Convicted And Slung In Houston County Jail

The release of authentic police documents, by Jon Carroll, whistleblower of the Henry County Report and previously confirmed by former Police Chief John White, indicated that law enforcement officers planting drugs and weapons on black males and the District Attorney then prosecuting these fraudulent charges, as well as the District Attorney covering up crimes committed by law enforcement officers. As a result, several other victims of the same types of crimes alleged in those documents have come forward to join the community’s stand against these injustices committed by law enforcement, lawyers, and judicial officers of the court.

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The following statement is from a Gentleman that came forward to tell his story, the wrongs done, the legal misrepresentation, the punishment meted out, the brutal and inhumane conditions suffered whilst held in the Houston County Jail. We aim to build a comprehensive picture in the readers mind in order to give you a better insight as to what really happens once your within the Houston County judicial system.

Our hope is that what has transpired here in Dothan will help to bridge the divide, maybe people will now realise and accept that racism in all of its guises should never be allowed to succeed. Lets remind ourselves and especially those in public office that discrimination for reason of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or religion in unacceptable, they know that its wrong and its thinly disguised as something other than what it really is.

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Leaked Documents Reveal Dothan Police Department Planted Drugs on Young Black Men For Years, District Attorney Doug Valeska Complicit

Jon B. Carroll

Carlton Ott,  Clark Rice,  Steve Hamm, Steve Parrish, David Jay, Michael Magrino, Dewayne Herring, Andy Hughes, Gary Coleman, and Scott Smith

PICTURED IN THE IMAGE ABOVE, CARLTON OTT,  CLARK RICE,  STEVE HAMM, STEVE PARRISH, DAVID JAY, MICHAEL MAGRINO, DEWAYNE HERRING, ANDY HUGHES, GARY COLEMAN, AND SCOTT SMITH

HUNDREDS OF CASES PROSECUTED WITH PLANTED EVIDENCE, MANY WRONGLY CONVICTED STILL IN PRISON

The Alabama Justice Project has obtained documents that reveal a Dothan Police Department’s Internal Affairs investigation was covered up by the district attorney. A group of up to a dozen police officers on a specialized narcotics team were found to have planted drugs and weapons on young black men for years. They were supervised at the time by Lt. Steve Parrish, current Dothan Police Chief, and Sgt. Andy Hughes, current Director of Homeland Security for the State of Alabama. All of the officers reportedly were members of a Neoconfederate organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center labels “racial extremists.” The group has advocated for blacks to return to Africa, published that the civil rights movement is really a Jewish conspiracy, and that blacks have lower IQ’s. Both Parrish and Hughes held leadership positions in the group and are pictured above holding a confederate battle flag at one of the club’s secret meetings.

The documents shared reveal that the internal affairs investigation was covered up to protect the aforementioned officers’ law enforcement careers and keep them from being criminally prosecuted.

Several long term Dothan law enforcement officers, all part of an original group that initiated the investigation, believe the public has a right to know that the Dothan Police Department, and District Attorney Doug Valeska, targeted young black men by planting drugs and weapons on them over a decade. Most of the young men were prosecuted, many sentenced to prison, and some are still in prison. Many of the officers involved were subsequently promoted and are in leadership positions in law enforcement. They hope the mood of the country is one that demands action and that the US Department of Justice will intervene.

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