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.

Questions Abound

By Supporter Contributor Ty Rade

Florida Supreme Court Building, Tallahassee, F...

Florida Supreme Court Building, Tallahassee, Florida (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thank you for offering me the opportunity to voice my concerns regarding the Felix Garcia case. I am an attorney, and I have followed your Web site since your launch. I recently took about an hour, and did some quick investigation on my own. As an attorney, I have access to resources other than Social Media, and Blog sites. I am not licensed in the state of Florida, so I don’t have access to all the trial data, but I have included what I could find, in this post.

You’ve asked for rebuttals, and I respect that. I only hope that you can hear what I have to say, and remain open minded towards it. The simple fact is, questions abound as to how Felix and his attorneys have handled his case. It appears to me, Felix has built a career as a federal court plaintiff.

Marie Vernon

Marie Vernon

Florida process for post-trial relief included Felix’ Motion for New Trial, based on newly discovered evidence and the alleged procedural issues.  Felix withdrew the newly discovered evidence issue involving the confession of the brother in 1999. The habeus petition doesn’t tell us why this issue was withdrawn and makes no effort to overcome the withdrawal. Florida was thus denied its own process to review its judgment, when the habeus was brought.

He’s let enough time pass from trial to obscure Florida’s defenses to his allegations of unfairness and he’s frustrated the system’s own built-in protections.  I submit that he has long ago graduated from being a prisoner wrongly accused, and is now a professional cause celebre, the only job for which he has training and experience.   September clemency may well deprive him of his raison d’etre. But absent some good responses from you, as to the choices Felix himself has made, our tikkun olam [Hebrew: healing the world] may well be better spent elsewhere.

I have attached the docket sheet from the federal court (MD Fl) and its history of the petition for habeus corpus.

The Petition for Habeus includes the affidavits of Frank and Tina, and the issues raised in the attempts to obtain post-trial relief in Fl. Felix had voluntarily withdrawn his “newly discovered evidence” issue in 1999; Frank’s affidavit was the basis for that issue. If the strongest piece of evidence you have is a confession, why on earth would you withdraw that confession in your petition?

He waited too long to obtain review of his other issues.  The guts are the Petition, Appendix to Petition, and the Response. I’d ask you to print the entire Response, as none of its arguments have been presented on yours or any other, of the blogs.  Judge Bucklaw carefully reviewed the factors that Felix said delayed his initial petition for post-trial relief, and found them unavailing.  The abandonment of the issue of Frank’s recantation is the biggest problem presented at the State and federal levels.

LifePrint.com Sign for prison.

LifePrint.com Sign for prison.

In the 2006 hearing on Felix’ Motion for New Trial,  Frank testified and the matter was under consideration for a year before denial. Certainly, the State’s winning case hasn’t shown up on any blogs, but the trial court found insufficient evidence upon which to order a new trial.

Do petition signers know that Felix had changed his mind about Frank’s testimony, and had withdrawn the issue?  That he’s exhausted federal courts process?  That he had yet another bite at the apple in 06? If they did know these facts, I wonder how quick they would be to sign.

Felix litigates at will and at our expense; he’s had a trial, post-trial relief, a hearing on the Motion for New Trial, and a federal Habeus case that went all the way to denial by the US Supreme Court.  When is it dayenu [Hebrew: enough is enough]?

Ty Rade is an attorney and speaker on legal issues. He is Senior Partner of a successful law firm in Colorado, and enjoys reading poetry, studying history, and riding motorcycles.

 

Excited About All the Activity

By Pat Bliss

I know BitcoDavid is working hard on Heather Hardy’s music video for Felix, and I’m sure it will be great when it’s done. He tells me that he’s trying to get it online as soon as possible,  so as to coincide with all this other activity in the case. But I also know what a perfectionist he is, and he won’t put product on DeafInPrison.com, until he’s sure it’s as good as he can make it.

As I reread my last post on Felix’s case last January, I am amazed how much has transpired since then.  A  fourth attorney came on board later that month. Jamie Johnson is from Patton Boggs, an international firm with offices in 12 other countries. Early in February, lead attorney, Reggie Garcia, acquired the pro bono services of Sachs Media Group in Tallahassee. With this highly experienced team working together, it has kept me busy practically 24/7 with answering questions, gathering documents, checking for accuracy. Not had much time to write, hence the delay in this update.

Sachs Media Group

Sachs Media Group

On March 25th the unseen publicity work behind the scenes culminated into action with a rally on the steps of Florida’s Capitol in response to two bills in congress requiring licensure of sign interpreters and restoration of funding for the council coordinating Florida’s policies concerning deaf Floridians. Felix’s case was used as a prime example for the need of a sign interpreters for a deaf defendant going to trial, without a sign interpreter the result is an unjust, unfair trial. It resonated with the press and the deaf community. It was seen on several TV nightly news programs, online news, and in print newspapers. That event has generated a new level of support to see Felix freed.

However, Felix, as all prisoners, live in a cocoon – away from actual life events. Telling Felix that a lot is going on with his case is like “so what else is new?” attitude. Inside he cannot grasp the excitement, the fervor among his legal team working on his freedom. He doesn’t comprehend the interest his case has garnered with so many of the Deaf organizations in FL. And all the new supporters seeking his freedom. But that has changed.  Felix has now realized something is actually happening when he saw the picture of clemency attorney Reginald Garcia standing on the steps of the Capitol speaking, with his own picture on a poster front row. Seeing the picture reminds me of an earlier post I did where Felix said  “we are picture people.”  When he saw something so evident it became a reality, that convinced him.  I can relax now knowing my “son’s” hope is again alive and well.

The best is yet to come on this road to freedom. Under the leadership of  lead attorney Reginald Garcia and the team, my heart is filled with gratitude and thanksgiving. But I would be amiss if I did not include the support of so many people, including websites, around the country and internationally. Words cannot express what I feel. Thank you!

 

 

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/453/783/026/felix-garcia-should-be-granted-a-full-pardon/

I asked one of Felix’s supporters to write up a brief story about a recent visit he made to Florida, to visit Felix. His name is Henry Kingsbury, and he’s a retired music professor. Here’s his perceptions on the visit.

I’ve been writing to Felix from my home in Maine since I read about him in Mother Jones. I finally flew down for a visit with him on Saturday, April 12.  I don’t know sign language, so at first I was a bit apprehensive as to how well Felix and I would communicate with each other, and indeed, for the first hour or so we had several pauses and wondering what to do or say next.  But pretty soon we were both talking a blue streak (he’s pretty good at lip-reading, as long as I make sure to be standing right in front of him while I’m saying something), once or twice stopping to go back and make sure we were actually understanding each other.  We both had to work at this — but we DID work at it, and we had a wonderful, wonderful visit.

Felix has an amazing awareness of the best and the worst of life:  he told me about prison gangs and violence, about the ill-treatment of deaf people, and getting by within the prison economy.  But he also demonstrated an amazing personal discipline.  Although he is intensely emotional on the matter of getting his freedom, he is downright joyful once he starts talking about all the things he’s learning; he enthusiastically showed me how he had repaired, using nothing but retooled junk, a pair of old sneakers.  He’s very enthusiastic about what he’s been able to learn in an educational program he’s been in these last few months (but only for the time being:  right now, he’s allowed to use computers with various application software — word processing, mechanical drawing, etc.; no e-mail or internet), and gleefully told me about the things he could do on the computer.

After he told me about some of the awful corruption inside the prison, I told him the biblical story behind the word, “shibboleth,” and he was so interested in this new word that he wrote it on his hand, so he could look it up in his dictionary when he went back inside.  We had a nice little lunch (Felix, of course, said grace).  He taught me a few ASL signs, and we talked about his coming to Maine when he gets out (apparently he’s never seen snow).  But that’s only when he gets out, when he gets out. I said, when he gets out.  Did I mention the importance of getting this guy out of prison?  Soon? His ability to maintain a sense of cheerfulness, even while enduring the unendurable, left a profound impression on me.  It was an amazing day.

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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Current Media Coverage on Felix

By Pat Bliss

Since we have enlisted the aid of Sachs Media Group in the Felix Garcia case, we have seen a large increase in media coverage. Below is a partial list of some of the newspapers and media outlets who have covered the case. We are thrilled at the attention Felix is finally getting in the press. Thank you Sachs Media, but we also don’t want to forget the commitment and help Felix has gotten from DeafInPrison.com, Mother Jones, and the many people who gave us support. This is a team effort, and I’m reminded of that expression, it takes a village. Thank you all for your hard work on Felix’s behalf.

Sachs Media Group

Reggie Garcia speaks to the crowd at #JusticeForFelix Rally. Image: Sachs Media Group

WJXT Jacksonville

Hearing-impaired seek justice for Florida man

March 25, 2014

By Matt Galka, Reporter

A deaf Florida man has spent more than 30 years of his life behind bars for a crime his brother has since confessed to. Hundreds of Floridians who are hearing-impaired are making noise to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Felix Garcia was convicted of murdering a man in Tampa in 1983. Garcia is deaf and the court had no interpreter to help him understand his trial. He has spent every day since behind bars — even after his brother admitted to the murder.

Click here to read the rest of the article:

http://www.news4jax.com/news/hearingimpaired-seek-justice-for-florida-man/25160288

Also featured on WFLA—Matt Galka, Reporter

Click here to watch his video segment:

http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=01d5eb53-2a06-4c1f-b462-ec1387c4dac2

Capital News Service

Hearing Impaired Seek Justice

March 25, 2014

By Matt Galka, Reporter

Felix Garcia was convicted of murdering a man in Tampa in 1983.  Felix is deaf and the court had no interpreter to help him understand his trial. He has spent every day since behind bars – even after his brother has admitted to the murder.

“He went into court, he didn’t know what was going on, he signed things he didn’t know he was signing and the result was he was incarcerated and he’s still in jail,” said Lissette Molina Wood through an interpreter. Wood is the Florida Association of the Deaf President.

http://www.flanews.com/?p=21116

WJXT-JAX – Jacksonville, FL

March 25, 2014

Matt Galka, Reporter

Click here to watch this video segment:

http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=a07e28cb-ddb2-4463-a3fa-2976a506c2ff

WCJB (ABC) – Gainesville, FL

WCJB TV News 20

March 25, 2014

Matt Galka, Reporter

Click here to watch this video segment:

http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=2025886c-0d14-4a62-89f3-90fc4e71fdb2

WCJB (ABC) – Gainesville, FL

WCJB TV News 20

March 25, 2014

Matt Galka, Reporter

Click here to watch this video segment:

http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=00840338-5760-4c6a-9609-1f60567e7f5b

The Florida Channel

Capital Update

March 25, 2014

*Our story is featured at the end of the Capital Update

Click here to watch this video segment:

http://thefloridachannel.org/watch/channel/tvweb1/

The Tampa Tribune

Deaf Tampa convict seeks clemency in murder

March 25, 2014

By James Rosica

 

Felix Garcia is in prison for murder, his defenders say, in part because he did not want his hearing impairment to be mistaken for stupidity. Garcia, 52, is serving a life sentence for a August 1981 killing in a north Tampa motel room, the result of a drug robbery gone bad.

Now, he’s asking Gov. Rick Scott to set him free.

Click here to read the rest of the article:

http://tbo.com/news/politics/deaf-tampa-convict-seeks-clemency-in-murder-20140325/

WUFT (NBC) – Gainesville, FL

March 25,2014

By Tavis Smiley

Click here to watch video segment:

http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=7083ea02-6b33-49aa-8f54-06d6ada4b1d4

Ad Hoc News

Deaf Tampa convict seeks clemency in murder

March 25, 2014

By James Rosica

Felix Garcia is in prison for murder, his defenders say, in part because he did not want his hearing impairment to be mistaken for stupidity.

Garcia, 52, is serving a life sentence for a August 1981 killing in a north Tampa motel room, the result of a drug robbery gone bad.Now, he’s asking Gov. Rick Scott to set him free.His brother, also charged in the robbery, later framed Garcia by getting him to pawn a ring stolen from the dead man, Joseph Tramontana Jr.

Click here to see the rest of the article:

http://article.wn.com/view/2014/03/25/Deaf_Tampa_convict_seeks_clemency_in_murder/

WFLA-TB (NBC) – Tampa Bay, FL

News Ch8 Today

March 26, 2014

Clip shown at 4:30/ 5:30 a.m.

Click here to watch this video segment:

http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=50f4c42b-7e98-4a8e-98d3-1b3bdfd4ede3

If you haven’t yet signed the Sachs Media petition, we need your signature. Conversely, DeafInPrison.com’s petition which is the longest lived petition in the case is still open, but if you sign it, we’re asking that you please take the time to sign the Sachs Media petition as well. Thank you for understanding why this is so important.

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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Your Thoughts on the Felix Garcia Case

By BitcoDavid

Felix Garcia celebrating his GED in 1984 Courtesy Pat Bliss. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/deaf-prisoners-felix-garcia

Felix Garcia celebrating his GED in 1984 Courtesy Pat Bliss.
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/deaf-prisoners-felix-garcia

Although we have entered into an arrangement with Sachs Media to bring their considerable skills to bear on Felix Garcia’s pending clemency, we are still getting signatures on our petition as well. I’m fine with that, but I hope people are also signing their petition – which goes directly into the inboxes of the officials who have influence on the case.

In the meantime, as I have perused the, now, 765 signatures, several of your comments have struck me. I have collected a few here, for you all to see. These comments are your words, not mine. In other words, this is how the Public feels about Felix.

My boyfriend has done time with him and was a translator for him while at polk ci. He had discussed this with him in detail and was very surprise to heat that it finally made he courts. After listen to him and then reading up on Felix I felt that I should support him. Must be bad to be in there for being guilty but being innocent that must must be really bad.

***

I am a certified sign language interpreter with 25 years of experience. I also have Deaf parents and a Deaf sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. I take this case very personally because it could have been one of my family members being unjustly jailed. This is a complete failure of our justice system that should have been so blatantly obvious at the time, but somehow it wasn’t. Mr. Garcia should be freed immediately based upon this new evidence and more importantly, due to the lack of him being afforded the opportunity and ability to defend himself against these false charges. I stand with all those who support that persons who are Deaf or hard of hearing should never be tried without the clear ability to communicate and defend themselves against any and all claims made against them. To do otherwise is complete madness and unconstitutional.

***

This would be heartbreaking if it was merely a case of one man being framed for murder by his own brother and wasting more than thirty years in a prison cell. It is infuriating once you understand that Frank Garcia openly confessed to framing his brother Felix in writing and in court, and yet Felix is STILL in prison seven years later. But what makes it truly, egregiously, outrageously horrific, is that Felix is functionally Deaf, and like other such men and women in prison, his Deafness has been denied – when not outright exploited – by our glorious justice system from the day he was arrested. He has been denied interpreters and even batteries for his hearing aids, laughed at when attempting to communicate, frightened into a desperate suicide attempt by guards, and raped. This. Is. Not. Acceptable.
***
Keep up the outstanding work, Pat Bliss and team!
***
As a former law enforcement agent, I feel sad and guilty for the unjustified incarceration of Felix Garcia. Please, do not let this tragedy continue, release this poor soul who was betrayed by his own brother.
***
New evidence requires a review of this case; and not giving a Deaf man access to his own hearing aids is Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

This is just a sample of the many comments I have received on the petition, but they convey the emotions and thinking of the general public as they become increasingly aware of Felix’s plight. Please take a moment to sign the Sachs Media petition here, and Like their FaceBook page, here. Even if you have already signed our petition. I know that’s a lot to ask, and I apologize for it, but this way, you can be assured that your voice will be heard.

At the same time, I’d like to thank everybody who has already signed ours, and to let you know that our petition is still active, and still holds the record for longest lived petition since this case was first made public. We had the record for the most signatures, and although we have gained a significant number since Sachs Media’s petition was launched, I honestly hope we no longer have that honor. When our 765 signatures become the second runner-up, that means that so many more will have already been brought to Florida’s attention.
You can tweet about Felix using the hashtags, #JusticeForFelix or #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.

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The Struggle of the Deaf in Prison

By BitcoDavid

Image: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

Deep beneath Colorado’s Cheyenne Mountain – recently renamed Mt. BitcoDavid – lies the DeafInPrison.com complex. Here, thousands of worker bees  – wearing black suits, dark sunglasses and coiled thingies in their ears – drive around in blacked-out Chevy Suburbans, and labor tirelessly to bring you the best in Internet content.

Recently they received a communique from the Silent Grapevine, requesting a supporter contribution. Here is BitcoDavid’s response to that request:

The Struggle of the Deaf in Prison

By
BitcoDavid

All three elements of interaction with the Justice system, directly affect the Deaf in far different ways than they do the Hearing.

1) Arrest: The goal of police during an arrest is to take physical custody of a suspect. Their only concern is discovering hidden weapons, and preventing escape. There is little opportunity for communication during this phase, and an ability of the suspect to follow orders is essential. When a cop holding his gun, yells “get down or I’ll shoot,” you need to get down. If you can’t understand that command, you’re in immediate danger. Many Deaf sacrifice their Constitutional rights, due to lack of understanding the Miranda warning. A written card containing the Miranda rights is useless, because many Deaf have limited reading ability.

The interrogation phase of arrest is equally fraught with communicational failings. Many Deaf, in order to fit in, or to expedite an uncomfortable situation, will respond to questioning by smile and nod. This leads Hearing to believe that the Deaf understand what is going on, even when they don’t. Finally, out of fear and exhaustion, the suspects will often confess to things they didn’t do. After 12, 24, possibly even 48 hours of grueling questions – none of which they can hear or understand – they confess.

2) Court proceedings and trial: Here, an interpreter is essential, but is often denied. An example is the now 33-year-old case of Felix Garcia, the man that DeafInPrison.com is working to pardon. On numerous occasions, the judge would ask Felix if he could hear. For reasons that he himself isn’t completely clear on, he would answer in the affirmative. In the end, all they did was turn the speakers all the way up, causing Felix great pain, but not aiding at all in his ability to hear the accusations and evidence against him.

If a Deaf defendant is at all likely to have the benefit of a qualified ASL interpreter, it is during the trial phase. However, interpreters cost money that states are loath to spend. They will invariably try to find cost cutting methods of getting things done. Why add to an already expensive trial if you can prove that no interpreter is required?

3) Incarceration: It is here that the Deaf suffer most. It is here as well, that competent interpreters are most necessary, and least often made available. There have been cases reported of Deaf inmates not reporting for Count, because the order is verbal. Failure to report for Count can result in serious punishment such as Solitary Confinement. The same situation exists with Mess. Often, Deaf inmates go without being fed, because they are unaware that it’s time to eat.

The biggest problem for the Deaf in America’s prisons is violence and rape. Deaf people cannot hear whispers and muttering. They can’t hear people coming up behind them, and they have difficulty in reporting such activities. They struggle receiving medical care, because they can’t hear the doctors and nurses, therefore may not be as able to take part in their therapy, or in filling prescriptions, as can their Hearing counterparts. Conversely, they are less able to describe symptoms or to otherwise aid in their diagnoses.

The number of prisons and jails that offer onsite interpreters for these situations is relatively small – even in these days of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Furthermore, even if interpreters are available, the inmate must request one before the appointment.

Guards often see Deaf inmates as troublemakers. Nothing gets under a Corrections Officer’s skin, as much as a special request or need. When you’re in charge of 1000 or more individuals, the last thing you want to hear is inmate XYZ needs an interpreter.

We can address and eliminate these issues with a small amount of effort.

Every police cruiser in this country is equipped with onboard computers and WiFi. Police should learn how to use video relay via the Internet. Deaf suspects can be brought to the cruiser, where they would be able to offer a defense against arrest, and at the same time, be informed as to why they’re being arrested and what is expected of them.

Detectives need to conduct interrogations with interpreters present. If costs and availability were an issue, again, Internet interpreters and video relay would do the trick.

The responsibility for determining a defendant’s ability to aid in his own defense should no longer be the purview of judges and attorneys. The court should consult with an audiologist if there is any question as to a defendant’s competency.

Prisons and jails would need to make three significant changes. First, interpreters should be full-time on all shifts, and available. Inmates shouldn’t have to go through official channels to request an interpreter. Secondly, institutions need to house Deaf inmates in separate dorms, fully equipped to meet their needs. Finally, Deaf and bilingual (English/ASL) guards would be greatly beneficial.

Lastly, of course, if ASL were offered in all public schools, colleges and trade schools, individuals – law enforcement and otherwise – would be able to communicate with the Deaf, and would be able to reap the many advantages of learning Sign.

Image: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

My gratitude and appreciation to Silent Grapevine for this opportunity.

Also, don’t forget that the #KeepASLinSchools video is done and can be seen here and here. Felix’s case is garnering much needed attention, thanks to the efforts of Sachs Media Group who is still maintaining their petition, here. Please take a minute to sign – even if you’ve already signed ours. It is critically important. And thank you all, for your continued support.

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.

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Press Release on Felix Garcia Case

By BitcoDavid

Photo: Hundreds rallied at the Florida Capitol today! Help Felix Garcia by signing the Change.org petition. http://bit.ly/FreeFelix

Rally at Florida State Capitol for SB1304 and HB1125 – and for Clemency for Felix. Image: Sachs Media Group

Below, you can see a copy of the press release that Sachs Media Group sent out to all the major players in both the national and local media. DeafInPrison.com is not only proud of our efforts to free Felix Garcia, but we are also quite flattered that Sachs Media included us in that distribution. New York Times – we take our place at your table. Pass the biscuits, please.

Again, this is a press release. So, no pictures. That’s why I embedded it, rather than pasting it into this article. But it is the first press release we’ve ever received. In the words of Faith Hill, “I still like to wear my old ball cap – ride my kids around piggy-back.”

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.

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Wind in My Sails

By BitcoDavid

Grant Executive Clemency to Felix Garcia

Where Felix Garcia is concerned, the go-to is and has always been Pat Bliss. Ms. Bliss has put forth a herculean 17 year effort to free Felix. As a result, he calls her “Mom.” The most recent turn of events in the case, is the ongoing Clemency hearing in which Pat is being assisted in this struggle by Reggie Garcia – Felix’s pro bono attorney.

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

These two individuals have enlisted the aid of Sachs Media Group, Florida’s #1 Public Relations firm. DeafInPrison.com has opted to be of aid where ever possible to Sachs Media. They have a lot of boots on the ground, where we do not. One area where we can assist them, as they take on this final leg of a struggle we have been solely involved in for almost 2 years now, is the transfer of signatures from our petition to theirs.

I have done this, but unfortunately, Change.org will not accept signatures from a Care2 petition. It’s simply a tech issue, having to do with login requirements. It is due to this situation, that I am asking the following.

If you are one of the 745 individuals who were gracious enough to sign our petition, could you please see your way clear to sign theirs as well? I fully realize that this seems like a bothersome request. You would be well justified in thinking that since you’ve signed one petition, you shouldn’t be asked to re-sign yet another.

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

But here’s the thing. Their petition is directly linked to the e-mails of all the individuals in Florida who we were targeting. The difference being, these people will receive these signatures right away – in their inboxes, not in the U.S. mail. Rather than being an envelope they can simply stick in a desk drawer somewhere, these signatures will be right in their faces – right away. I can’t stress how important that will be.

Some have asked me what happened – did the wind get knocked out of my sails? The answer is a most definite no. The wind is most assuredly still in my sails, but now I’ve got an armada rather than just one little boat. With our help – all of us – Sachs Media can finally free Felix.

Please visit their Petition page, here. Sign the petition – even if you’ve already signed mine. Like their FaceBook page, here. I will be posting on that page regularly. We’re not selling out, we’re trading up. After 32 years, Felix needs to be freed. It’s a moral issue, a legal issue and a justice issue. Every day that Felix spends in prison is another day we all suffer, another day the whole world suffers.

Here’s the unformatted link to the Sachs Media petition:
https://www.change.org/petitions/rick-scott-grant-executive-clemency-to-felix-garcia

Here’s the unformatted FaceBook link:https://www.facebook.com/championsforjusticeforfelixgarcia

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.

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Major Update on Felix’s Case

By BitcoDavid

As most of you know, DeafInPrison.com has been working tirelessly, on the release of Felix Garcia, the innocent Deaf man, imprisoned for 30 years thus far, in Florida. We have written countless pieces on his situation, been in constant contact with Pat Bliss, the paralegal who has been working on this case for over a decade, now, and we created the longest lived and most active petition thus far, seeking his pardon.

Well, Pat Bliss and Reggie Garcia – the pro bono attorney who’s handling the clemency hearing – have enlisted the aid of Sachs Media Group in an effort to inform both the public, and the requisite Florida legislators, about this urgent case.

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

Image courtesy of Pat Bliss

Sachs Media is in the process of launching a FaceBook page, and of starting their own petition on Change.org. DeafInPrison.com will be transferring our 740+ signatures over to Sachs Media’s petition – which is directly linked to the e-mail addresses of the same individuals we were targeting. That way, those individuals will receive signatures immediately, rather than our waiting until we reach the 1000 mark. Sachs Media will also be coordinating this activity with a press release – something we’ve tried on numerous occasions.

I will be posting those links as soon as they become available to me.

This is a major step forward in Felix’s case. Sachs Media has a large war chest of contacts and resources they will be able to bring to bear, and those of us who have worked to see Felix freed, may finally get the resolution we’ve been working so hard – and waiting so long – for.

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

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

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the individuals who have signed our petition, and who have worked through social media as well as contributing or commenting here, on DeafInPrison.com. Your signatures will now be added to a much larger pool, and transferred directly to Pam Bondi, Governor Scott and all the members of the Florida Cabinet who have sway with the Clemency Board. When Felix is released, you will be able to say that you were directly responsible for helping to make that dream a reality.

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.

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Song Tells Felix’s Suffering

By Pat Bliss

Heather Hardy is one of the individuals who wrote our petition for Felix Garcia’s pardon. She recently completed recording the song she wrote to accompany that petition. She is currently seeking an interpreter to facilitate the production of a video of the song, which we will publish here, upon its completion. Until that time, here is the mp3 - audio only – version of the song. Below, find the embedded Word document containing the lyrics.

 

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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Update on Felix – Part 2

By Pat Bliss

After visiting with Felix on Sunday, January 5th I drove to Tallahassee. I took a route I had not traveled before, which took me through mid-Florida flat land compiled mainly of horse farms and training establishments for horse racing. I actually enjoyed it, and allowed enough time to get to Tallahassee before dark. Our clemency attorney – Reginald Garcia – called me and told me there was to be an early meeting before going to the Capitol. It was totally unexpected and I would end up, blown away.

Image from Raiford Prison, cir. 1930  Northlight Theater Blog

Image from Raiford Prison, cir. 1930
Northlight Theater Blog

The meeting was with the Innocence Project of Florida. After much discussion, they agreed to look into our case. As if that wasn’t enough, there was more. Attorney Michael Ufferman – an expert in criminal appellate law – was at the same meeting. Attorney Ufferman received case law on a US Supreme Court opinion where the Federal Courts will drop any time bars on actual innocence cases. This has been are stickler in the past for us, getting heard in Federal Court on Felix’s 6th Amendment violation – denied a fair trial due to deafness where he could not assist nor understand what was taking place and was not  provided an interpreter.

Attorney Ufferman stated he was going to file a Federal Writ Of Habeas Corpus. In a third happy surprise, Attorney Garcia – experienced in parole matters – said he will attend Felix’s parole hearing coming up in October with me.

In my heart I was bursting with thankfulness as we left the Innocence Project office to go to the Capitol for a meeting with an attorney for Governor Scott on the clemency action in progress.  We were encouraged to see other clemency aides to get a second vote to initiate a Request for Review which requires the Governor plus one. Another positive step in a long process.

I left Florida very content that my purpose in making this trip had been fulfilled.

Update on Felix:
Felix is on a new venture. He graduated from the Character/Faith program on 1/13/14. He is enrolled in a training class to become a computer instructor and is already teaching Word, Excel and drawings on the computer to fellow inmates. Besides this new work he is in and knowing what these professional attorneys are doing on his case, Felix definitely went from hopelessness to hope in a very short time. Happy New Year to all!

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.

Suppose it were Mozart

By BitcoDavid

Prison is a horrible place, and an even more horrible concept. But I would propose that perhaps it is we who suffer most when our friends and loved ones find themselves chewed up in the soulless machine that is America’s Criminal Justice System.

Now, as always – I would preface this article with the disclaimer that sure, some people definitely belong behind bars. Yes, Virginia there are criminals, and yes, there is no place that can serve them better than the cold steel of the  Greyrock Hilton.

But where would the world be if Mozart were sent to waste his life behind barbed wire? What a dull, colorless place Earth would be if Picasso were denied paint and canvas, or if Bell were kept from playing with magnets and wires. And to some degree or another, are we not all Mozarts, Picassos and Bells? I put it to you in the purely theoretical. Is it not possible that a cure for Cancer, a discovery of Warp drive, another Jupiter Symphony isn’t rotting in some hell-hole somewhere?

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

Felix with Pat Bliss.
Image credit Pat Bliss

Pat Bliss is an expert on prisons. She does what many of us wish we could. She goes into these places – on a regular basis – and works with the men and women behind bars. Hence, she has learned a great deal about the tangled web of visitation and the virtually inaccessible prisoner trust accounts. Last night on the phone, I broached an idea I had been hatching.

"Jail" in Sign Image: LifePrint.com

“Jail” in Sign
Image: LifePrint.com

You see, as many DeafInPrison.com readers are already aware, I have set out to learn Sign language. So, while watching the absolutely awesome Al Jazeera exposé featuring Felix Garcia, I saw him signing. I thought it might be a great opportunity for ASL students in the Florida area, to visit Felix over a period of a few weeks. Felix could tutor people in a boot camp immersion environment, via daily visits. In return, people could pay Felix for the service, which would provide him a nest egg for that day when he finally gets his clemency.

So, I needed to communicate with Pat Bliss, to work out some of the logistics of this wicked pissah idea of mine. I grabbed the phone, cranked the crank and hollered into the pipe. “Sarie – get me Pat Bliss.”

Well, it turns out my idea is impossible.

You see, individuals would not be able to visit Felix. Felix is allowed only 2 hours of visitation a week, and that on weekends only, and only by authorized visitors. He is allowed only 1 hour a month for visitation from media types for interviews. He has limited access to TTY, and of course no Video Relay access. He cannot operate or maintain an Internet presence, cannot access social media and – other than the very limited computer training program in which he is already involved, has no access to digital technology. In fact, Pam Bondi has a certain well known undergarment all tangled up in a bunch over the fact that I – and others – maintain a Web presence for Felix, as 3rd parties.

Furthermore, Florida takes issue with inmates getting paid for performing services for private individuals – unless of course it’s slave labor for factory facilities like CCA and other private sector profiteers.  It’s OK if United Fruit pays him 50¢ a day, but you and I can’t pay him 50$ an hour to teach us Sign.

***

Here’s the thing that strikes me about Felix. He’s a downright nice guy. I’ve seen him in so many interviews now, discussed him in such depth with Pat, and written so much about him that I can say that without fear of contradiction. Felix is a nice guy. And moreover, an individual who could make a substantial contribution to society. So it is we who miss out. We are the losers here. Just as we would have missed the glory of the Jupiter symphony, the psychological expressionism of Cubism, and the 2nd naturedness of telephone communication – had those luminaries been cast aside – we are missing all the great contributions that could – at least theoretically – be made by the Felixes of this world.

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.

I Need Hope…..

By Pat Bliss

Felix's most recent shot December 2013 Tomoka. Image Courtesy Pat Bliss

Felix’s most recent shot, December 2013, Tomoka.
Image Courtesy Pat Bliss

Before my leaving for Florida to be with Felix on Christmas day, I received a phone call saying, “I need help, I can’t get it together.” A letter came a couple days later. “I can’t seem to get a grasp of reality… why can’t I get out of here? Why can’t I get my life back?” Then, a little further he states,

“I had hope [at Polk CI]. Hope of one day getting out. I don’t have that here. All I see is hopelessness, despair, forgotten, deserted, alone. I can’t stand this feeling. I feel like I am at the end of my rope. Life has been really hard on me the last two years and I am giving up slowly…I just want to go home – please.”

In this same letter, he shared when he was a scared kid, when his parents sent him to live with his grandparents and he knew his parents were leaving him. He wrote,

“I am 52 years old but I feel like a scared kid all over again. All I want is a chance… I need help, I need hope, I need a real door, a goal. Something to tell myself ‘I am really going home’, if I can’t do that then it’s over, there is nothing left… I am scared, mom, I really am. I am scared for myself. Times have changed. I don’t belong here.”

With this on my mind I drove to FL and when I saw Felix come into the visiting room at Tomoka CI, he displayed his usual infectious smile and greeted me with a big hug, I said, we are going to have a real mother-son talk and tell me all what is going on in your heart and mind. And that he did! He got it all out – anger, unfairness, hopelessness on his case, frustrations. I, in turn, spoke plainly so I could be sure he understood what was going on. We started around 10 am and talked through our lunch and ice cream. By the time I left at 2:30 pm he felt good, and relieved to get it all off his chest.

However, the hope he was seeking hadn’t come yet. It wasn’t just hope for getting out, it was hope to have purpose. This is a need in everyone’s life.  The Bible states “without hope the people parish.” Why am I here? Doesn’t God care? Felix had said “Oh, I believe God can but He doesn’t see me” which broke my heart. Yes God sees him but He has a greater purpose for Felix that we don’t see.  In the meantime, while I was gone between Christmas and Family Day at Tomoka on January 3, 2014, hope came alive. The person responsible in the Horizon Character-Based Program dorm where Felix lives had Felix in mind to take over instructing the computer classes. Felix was told he was to graduate from the Character-Dorm program early, in order to enter the training class to be an instructor. Felix is that good.

The Faith Day event for all the inmates in the program was a huge success. I got to meet the other 4 deaf in the dorm and their families. Felix’s whole attitude had changed, he feels needed and has a goal each day. We visited Saturday and on Sunday I only stayed an hour as I needed to get on the road to Tallahassee. Our relationship had also changed, after having that talk Christmas day he realized I was not going anywhere. He could talk to me and be honest with his feelings. I could tell by the long hug and being able to say “I really love you, mom.”

I will write in another post about the advancement on his clemency action. These are doors Felix was referring to in his letters and when mentioned at our Christmas visit. Life is full of surprises. They are yet to come.

Pat

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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Resolutions

By BitcoDavid

As a full third of Americans hunker down and prepare for Armageddon Storm 2014, I thought I might talk about some of my New Years resolutions. Now, I’m not a big resolution guy. I find that people tend to hit the ground running, but lose steam after about a month or so, leaving the resolution to gather dust in the basement, next to the treadmill and the Ab Buster. Conversely, I think if developing a specific habit is desired, it can be started anytime, and there is no need to await a new year. That  being said, we constantly reinvent and reapply ourselves, and Jan 2 is as good a time as any, to again pick up the bit, dig in our heels and renew our commitments.

First and foremost of course, would be Felix. I have no control over the plethora of factors effecting Felix’s release, but I can renew my commitment to his cause. We have only 300 more signatures to go, before we can send Felix’s petition off to my 2 favorite Republicans, Pam Bondi and Rick Scott. At the same time, Pat Bliss and a Pro Bono attorney are working on a clemency hearing for Felix. In fact, Pat should be returning from Florida soon, and hopefully she’ll have some news for us. In the meantime, we at DeafInPrison.com can double down and continue writing about Felix and his case, and keep beating the drum for you – our readers – to sign his petition.

Then there’s ASL. I would like to be conversational by this time next year. In fact, assuming that Dr. Twersky Glasner has another symposium this year, I’d like to be able to enjoy my lunch while signing away like a pro. No more banishment to the Hearie Table – population 1. I can learn to sign one-handed, so I can eat veggie wraps with the other.

De Niro in Raging Bull. Image: Andy's Film Blog

De Niro in Raging Bull. Image: Andy’s Film Blog

Of course some resolutions are more personal. I want to get better at inside fighting, and keeping my guard up on attack. I stay in pocket well, when I’m on the defensive, but I tend to drop my guard when I move in for a combination. And this coming Summer, I’d like to run a few more races than I did last year. 3 short years from the staring window, and I’m a boxer and a runner. Not bad huh? I think I’m the oldest guy at my gym.

Anyway, we have our work cut out for us. Happy New Year, and I wish us all success in 2014. Let’s make this the year that was.

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.

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