Petitions Delivered

By BitcoDavid

UPS has informed me, that all our petitions have been delivered. We have done our part, now it’s up to Florida to do theirs. This was a learning experience for me, because it was neither easy nor cheap. It required several trips to Staples for printing, as well as a large amount of printing here, at the massive DeafInPrison.com Plaza. Between the printing costs, and the shipping costs… well… let’s just say, I felt the bite.

But this is a happy post. A genuine Emoji.  Florida’s  Praetorian Guard now have hard-copy proof of our labor. They are awed by the sheer magnitude of the names, and shamed by their own state’s wrongheadedness and inhumanity.

We have issued our Concordat. The Jacobin have stormed the Bastille. This is our Battleship Potemkin moment.

Scott Carey – armed with nothing more than a nail – has confronted the spider.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Open Letter to Florida Clemency Board

By Joanne Greenberg

Dear Clemency Board,

Felix Garcia celebrating his GED in 1984 Courtesy Pat Bliss. From Mother Jones Magazine.

Felix Garcia celebrating his GED in 1984 Courtesy Pat Bliss.
From Mother Jones Magazine.

I have been interested in the Felix Garcia case, for the last few years, and I have seen all of the material from that case, including the 2 hours of video interview on DeafInPrison.com. I know that he has exhausted his legal opportunities, but because there is a strong probability that Felix is not guilty of the crime for which he is charged, I am afraid that when he comes up for parole, he will not state that he is remorseful. And this will deny him parole.

Most recent photo of Felix with Pat Bliss.  Image credit Pat Bliss

Most recent photo of Felix with Pat Bliss.
Image credit Pat Bliss

However, nothing stands in the way of Felix’s being freed as an act of clemency. He’s already served a monumental sentence, but he has been able to create a life for himself, that will be useful and positive – on the outside. He will be able to do good things for himself and for the community in general; and especially for the Deaf community, which needs what Felix has to offer.

If we have any faith in rehabilitation, we certainly see rehabilitation in Felix’s case.

Joanne Greenberg was born in 1932, in Brooklyn, NY. She was educated at American University and received and honorary Doctorate from Gallaudet University – the world’s only college for the Deaf. She has written 2 books on the subject and has spent decades working with state mental hospitals for appropriate care for the mentally ill Deaf.

Petition In Brown Truck and Heading South

By BitcoDavid

English: Mabel Capper and Suffragettes with a ...

Mabel Capper and Suffragettes with a petition 1911 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is not without a certain amount of sadness, that I report to you that we have closed down the petition, printed up all 35 pages of it, and sent a copy to each of the four members of the Clemency Board. I’m actually quite happy about this, and about Felix’s extra shot at freedom, but I have nursed this petition along for almost 3 years, now. I’ve checked it once a day, intervened when it went dark, or got mistakenly closed. I’ve posted about it, maybe 100 times on here, and at least that many, on the other social networks. I’ve e-mailed about it, telephoned about it, and snail mailed about it. In short, I feel like a parent whose child is gone off to college. Sniff! [Tear] My son, the petition! Sniff!

Pat Bliss has informed me that if you are writing letters to the Clemency Board, she asks that you do not refer specifically to December, but rather just make the case for clemency. Apparently, it is viewed as an arrogance, for us to cite the date. This is of course, political and legal mumbo-jumbo, but we have to play the game as visitors, and Florida is the home team.

Here’s a copy of the petition as it appears in hard-copy form. This and my personal letter is exactly what the Board will receive on Wednesday of next week.

Here’s a copy of my enclosed letter.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who signed, and all of you who have supported Felix – and us – during this long uphill slog. It is my sincerest hope that all this work does not go unrewarded.

I would also like to thank Care2 for all their hard work and cooperation on this project. We couldn’t have completed this petition without them, and on numerous occasions, their technical support staff. Wonderful job guys, thanks for all you do.

Well, that’s about it. Remember, we’re not done yet. Keep writing those letters. And don’t forget to leave December out of it, and please keep the language family friendly. We don’t want to rub these people the wrong way.

But, Pam Bondi, if you’re reading this – and I suspect you are – please, free Felix. You know it’s the right thing to do.

#JusticeForFelix, #FreeFelix.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Some Great News

By BitcoDavid

Pat Bliss has informed me that the option for clemency for Felix Garcia is not dead, after all. She states that the possibility exists for a new clemency hearing, in December. What’s more, she tells me that there’s been a renewed interest in the case, amongst members of Florida’s justice system.  She has asked me to reach out one more time, to our readers, asking for your support. The pro bono attorney handling the case, Reginald Garcia has asked that we mail in our petition on Monday. He wants it sent to all 4 members of the Clemency Board.

I am glad to do so, and will be sending them via registered mail to each of the 4 members. I will be accompanying that packet with a letter of my own, imploring them to reexamine the case, and grant Felix the clemency he deserves.

Here’s where you can help. We are still 120 signatures shy of our goal of 1000. I will be sending the petition out regardless on Monday, the 14th. But I honestly believe that with one last push, we can reach our goal before then. Please, go sign our petition. While I’m sure the Board will be impressed with 880 signatures, 1000 would mean so much more.

If you feel like going that extra mile, for Felix, Ms. Bliss has also requested that as many of you as are able, write and send your own letters to the Board. Unfortunately, in cases such as this, e-mail and other electronic methods of communication hold little weight. These letters must be sent via U.S. Mail, in hard copy. They need something they can wave around in their hands, while pleading his case. I realize that to most of us, nowadays, those men in the little blue shorts who drive around in those funny little Jeeps, are somewhat of an enigma, but unfortunately nothing else will work.

As Dickens pointed out, the law is an ass. Furthermore, nobody ever accused the Government – state or Federal – of being overly hip. So, it’s U.S. mail or nothing.

Here are the addresses you can send your letters to:

 

Office of Governor Rick Scott

Thomas Winokur, Clemency Aide

400 S. Monroe St.

Rm 209, The Capitol

Tallahassee, FL 32399

Office of Attorney General Pam Bondi

Gwen Thomas, Clemency Assistant

366 M. Collins Bldg.

Tallahassee, FL 32301

Office of Chief Financial Officer

Jeff Atwater

Robert Tornillo, Clemency Aide

LL26, The Capitol

Tallahassee, FL 32301

Office of Commission of Agriculture

Adam Putnam

Reagan Russell, Clemency Aide

407 Calhoun St., Suite 520

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0810 

Pat also sent me a draft you can use:

Dear Governor Scott and Florida Clemency Cabinet.
Felix is innocent;  he was framed by his siblings and they have recanted; he has a 7 hour alibi; has served 33 years in prison; paralegal Pat Bliss has been on his case 17+ years and is his “mom”  where he will go home to in Virginia.

Personally, I would prefer it if you used your own words, but please – remember that we’re writing to plead with these people. Try to avoid pejoratives and off color language. Keep in mind, you catch more flies with honey.

You will need to send all 4 members – listed above – copies of your letters. I realize this is an inconvenience, not to mention a small personal expense. We thank you in advance for your efforts, and Felix – who’s made far greater sacrifices – will thank you as well.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

HEARD’s #DeafInPrison Campaign – Day 2

By BitcoDavid

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HEARD turned on the link to the Al Jazeera America video yesterday. Numerous people have screened it either through FaceBook, Organizations and private parties, or from my links, here. I have received several comments and messages on it already, and I’m sure Talila Lewis is very happy – as am I – to see the response to her efforts.

This important video focuses in part, on Felix Garcia. Many of you first heard of Felix and his plight here on DeafInPrison.com. We’ve been involved in the case for over 2 years, and one of our contributing author’s, Pat Bliss, has been personally working it for 17 years.

We have posted numerous articles on the legal issues regarding Felix, and have even been fortunate enough to have received – and posted – a rebuttal, written by an attorney who shows us some of the prosecutorial  perspectives in the case.

Now, Ms. Bliss informs me that clemency is no longer an option. She states that there are a limited number of ways a convicted man can be released, and that the only avenue left open to Felix is parole. I take exception with the idea of parole. For one thing, that isn’t something granted to the wrongfully incarcerated – the innocent. It’s a privilege offered to all inmates, and is essentially an admittance of guilt. Furthermore, parole isn’t freedom. Sure, it beats the hell out of prison. What doesn’t? But parole chains the inmate to the state in which he lives, employment assigned by an indifferent agency, urine tests and weekly reporting. Felix would end up washing cars, and pissing into a cup. That’s not the life he deserves, nor is it the life Florida owes him.

Attorney General Pam Bondi

Attorney General Pam Bondi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Perhaps I’m wrong. I’m not a lawyer. I don’t even understand the law. In fact, I’m somewhat bitter and resentful toward it. But I believe that Pat may be erroneous in her assessment. I think there is one other option. Let’s call it the Come Down From on High option. Gubernatorial or even Presidential pardon. I don’t know if this is true, but it seems to me that either Governor Scott – or if it had to come down to it, President Obama – could just call down from Olympus, and order Felix freed. No pomp. No circumstance. No legal wrangling. Just a simple – “Because I’m the mommy. that’s why.”

I realize that Governor Scott is no Santa Clause. And that his AG, Pam Bondi is no Florence Nightingale. I also realize that President Obama’s record for Presidential pardons is outright abysmal. Worse by an order of magnitude, than even George W. Bush’s.  In other words, I get that we’re not dealing with nice guys, here.

Official photo of Florida Governor Rick Scott

Official photo of Florida Governor Rick Scott (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So let this particular post stand as my request – no strike that – as my challenge to Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and President of the United States Barack Obama. Please! Please! If for nothing other than a paean to whatever humanity you may have once had, please. Free Felix Garcia.

If you – my readers – after having viewed the Al Jazeera America documentary, agree with me on this, please help us finish our petition. Felix has been in prison for 33 years, for a crime he did not commit. I get that lawyers may disagree.

I get that every story has 2 sides. I get that Felix may not have filled out all the forms properly, or had the right representation, or that representation’s hands were tied by a system that hobbled them at every turn. None of that matters. Felix is innocent and has spent his adult life behind bars. That is the only issue in this case.

English: King of the Gods, Zeus, at the Getty ...

King of the Gods, Zeus, at the Getty Villa. Roman, Italy, A.D. 1 – 100. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since Sachs Media Group started their petition, I’ve been somewhat at a loss as to what to do with ours, upon its completion. Their petition was highly successful, in that it reached its goal of 500 signatures, all of which were sent directly to the authorities whom it targeted. I believe that petition is now closed. Here’s my promise to you. Help me get that last 125 signatures that I need to reach our goal of 1,000 – and I will send it in hard copy, via Registered mail, to both Rick Scott and Pam Bondi. I will include a letter of my own, imploring them to look at this case, not from a legal perspective, but from a moral one – and from the standpoint of authority. I will ask them for a Deus Ex Machina.  I will ask them to reach down from Stratus and cast their lightning bolts.And if their lightning bolts aren’t powerful enough, I’ll send a copy to the White House.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

 

Why Isn’t Felix Free by Now?

By Pat Bliss

Felix could say he cried out for help to anyone who would listen. Ever since he found out – after arriving in prison and  having the trial transcripts read to him by his cell mate – that his sister testified against him. All the time thinking, during the trial she was helping him, because he could not discern the words spoken by the witnesses, while testifying. Felix relied on his attorney, when he would ask him, “What are they saying?”  “Everything will be OK,” the lawyer would say. He also saw his brother Frank come into the courtroom, and was told he pled the fifth and that is why he didn’t testify – nor help him go home. Felix did not know what Frank had said in his own trial a year earlier.

Felix could say that he relied on a prison law clerk’s advice when he got Frank’s first affidavit in 1989. It stated that Frank killed the victim, that Tina and Ray participated in the crime and that he, Felix, was completely innocent. The law clerk misfiled that document and it was sent back to Felix. Felix thought the regular letter from the Judge was a denial and he put the affidavit in a box, only to be remembered again in 1997 when I took his case. Felix could only read at an elementary level at that time.

You could say his legal team made a wrong decision in 1999 by withdrawing the second affidavit from Frank. In all honesty the team were under the impression the deaf issue (6th Amendment violation) was valid, as it was allowed to proceed to the Evidentiary Hearing. They did not know the Judge, and the State, already knew it was going to be stricken. Due to a turn of events, it was not the right time to present the new evidence. Time proved that.  But alas, this court action was denied.

You could say that it took too long for the inmates – to whom Frank confessed that he put his innocent younger brother in prison, so he could avoid the death penalty – to send in their affidavits. Eventually many of them were transferred to where Felix was. Most had never met Felix before. A couple of the inmates had – over the years – been in the same prison with Felix, but they never knew each other. When they met Felix, and remembered what Frank had told them, they felt obligated to write affidavits of what they heard. These came to me between 2002-2004.

You could say that at the 2006 Evidentiary Hearing, where Frank confessed to Felix’s innocence, and how Felix got tangled into the crime by Frank making him sign a pawn ticket, that the Court got it wrong, by not believing Frank’s confession. The Court did not say it didn’t believe the confession. The Order stated it did not believe Frank,  because Frank had lied at his own trial in 1982. He lied to his attorney, to the jury, and to the Judge – making him not credible in the eyes of the Court. Frank’s whole testimony was tossed out. And the appeal was unsuccessful, without an opinion. It closed the door for any more appellate procedures on the case both in state and federal court.

But I  suggest that the Courts, nor the State want to concede they have convicted an innocent man. This is not a DNA case. If it was, it would be over by now. The jury got it wrong. There was no consideration for the time factors and defense witnesses. The Judge got it wrong. Felix’s trial attorney could have done better, but he did what he could to alert the court of his client’s limited ability to help in his own defense. And he asked not to proceed to trial. The Judge knew Felix had a hearing problem, he could have ordered a sign interpreter. This case though, was unique in 1983.  Now we are in 2014.  The Governor has the authority to right that wrong – if he wants to and so far he doesn’t. And Felix’s sister, Tina – in May of this year – had her chance to right the wrong, and help her younger brother, Felix. She chose not to. We can’t blame her, really. There is no statute of limitations on a murder case, and she has enjoyed her freedom these 32+ years.

In a nutshell, this is why Felix is still in prison. Publicity helps draw attention, which can be invaluable, but it cannot get anyone out of prison. There are only three ways that can happen 1) the case goes back to court on some issue that is viable or 2) the Governor and Clemency Cabinet grants clemency or 3) the Parole Board grants parole.  Our next proceeding is the Parole Board hearing, possibly in January of 2015. The efforts of the legal team are in full force to make this third avenue a reality –  your support inspires us.  Thank you.

–Pat Bliss

Pat Bliss is a retired paralegal in criminal law. She continues to do legal work for indigent prisoner cases showing innocence. She is a Certified Community Chaplain, Certified as a volunteer for CISM (Crises Intervention Stress Management) and involved in community events.

Life Holds no Guarantees: Update on Felix

By Pat Bliss

Sachs Media Group

Sachs Media Group

When we began this year with three paths to take Felix’s case, we did it knowing there are no guarantees. Unbeknownst at that time to us all, something was soon to take place that started our year with a bonus. And very appreciated.

As many of you already know there was a rally in March of this year in Tallahassee, Florida, on the Capitol steps, put on by organizations of Deaf Interpreters to garner support for a bill in legislature that would require licensure of all sign language  interpreters as they are the gateway of communication between the deaf and the hearing. This event was well covered by the media. Felix’s case was highlighted as a prime example of a deaf defendant going to trial without an interpreter that resulted in grave consequences. This exposure propelled Felix and his case into the limelight that yielded a new group of advocates and have added to his support base.

Most recent photo of Felix with Pat Bliss.  Image credit Pat Bliss

Most recent photo of Felix with Pat Bliss.
Image credit Pat Bliss

In one of meetings in January, we talked about doing a Federal Habeas based on a new US Supreme Court case McQuiggen v. Perkins  stating the time bar for filing on actual innocence cases may not be considered in certain cases. However, as the caselaw reads, it would require live court testimony to verify any old evidence showing innocence. Frank Garcia already confessed in open court in 2006 and the court did not believe him so that ruled him out. Another participant was Ray Stanley, but he is deceased. The last participant was Tina Garcia who wrote an affidavit in 1996 proclaiming her part and that Felix was actually innocent. We needed her live testimony to prevail in a court action. She was located but would not cooperate. Why not help? Well the obvious answer is, she was a participant in the crime, she testified against Felix for the State and she is still free. She of course will not jeopardize her freedom.  This avenue has closed at this time but will be available later down the road if anything new is developed.

Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi. Image: Westside Gazette

Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi. Image: Westside Gazette

So we became focused on a clemency hearing in Sept. It was a long shot but with the publicity and lead attorney Reggie Garcia and the team’s persistence we went forward on hoping the Clemency Board members‘ could be influenced to take our case in September. Legislatures were approached, Cabinet Aids had questions, the Governor’s counsel on clemency was updated. I must interject here, that normally it takes 5-6 years for a case to be heard before the Board but there is an exception rule that could expedite the action which we had filed. Last week I was informed our request was turned down. For now.  In the meantime we are at work on providing more proof to show Felix’s innocence for future hearing, hopefully not far off.

The third path is Felix’s upcoming Parole Hearing possibly in January 2015. This hearing has a lot of potential with the impressive number of accomplishments Felix has done to improve himself, his extraordinary prison behavior, his faith to remain strong and do the right thing, together with this excellent legal team that will be present. We will be focused on this later in the year.

Please sign our petition and continue to support Felix.

Please sign our petition and continue to support Felix.

What about the petition? As Attorney Reggie Garcia said “keep the signatures coming.” It is not needed in September but will be needed at a later date. And Felix keeps tabs as he has access to a freeworld person who comes in as a volunteer, and looks up deafinprison.com to see the numbers. Felix is appreciative so many care. There is a second petition also that is accessible to you and you’re encouraged to sign them both – for the total sum will be quite impressive.

How is Felix doing these days? He couldn’t be happier with his work and is delighted to be able to hear with special headphones music on his computer. He said “I can’t understand all the words but I am trying. I want to sign it [for better understanding]. Wow, Mom, I am in my own world here. I have been blessed to get this position, the Lord knew I was reaching out because I needed Him.”  Who are we to complain when a deaf man, innocent for close to 33 years in prison, can say he is blessed? That takes faith.  

–Pat Bliss (mom)

Pat Bliss is a retired paralegal in criminal law. She continues to do legal work for indigent prisoner cases showing innocence. She is a Certified Community Chaplain, Certified as a volunteer for CISM (Crises Intervention Stress Management) and involved in community events.

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