This day and date mark the shameful denial of justice to at least two kids in America: Jordan Brown and Paul Henry Gingerich. These are just two kids I know of—two of the six kids I’m currently serving (a third of my case load!)—yet how many other kids like them are similarly having their rights abused?
Today is the date that Jordan Brown’s long-awaited trial in juvenile court was to have commenced. But his trial date has been delayed—and why? Because the media want to deny Jordan his right as a juvenile to have his case heard in a closed courtroom.
Yesterday the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and New Castle News filed appeals with the Pennsylvania Superior Court asking that Lawrence County Judge John Hodge’s order be reversed that Jordan’s trial proceed on schedule and, like all juvenile proceedings, be closed to the public and media.
The Superior Court ordered that Jordan’s trial be delayed and gave media lawyers 62 days to submit other documents before the court assigns a three-judge panel to hear the request. How long this delay will ultimately be is anyone’s guess.
Lawyers for these three newspapers are using all kinds of high-sounding justifications in their arguments that the proceedings should be open. “It’s a case of great significance on the questions of criminal and juvenile justice in the Commonwealth,” Frederick Frank, the Post-Gazette’s attorney told The Associated Press. James Manolis, attorney for the New Castle News, said “There’s always going to be the question: ‘Then how did it happen?’ If Jordan Brown did not do it, then we apparently still have a killer in our midst, and we ought to know that.” Ronald Barber, attorney for the Tribune-Review said, regarding the boy’s privacy, “That horse has left the barn.”
But remember: these are the same people and institutions that opened the barn door in the first place. Jordan was 11 years old at the time he was wrongfully accused of the double homicide. The release of his mug shot photograph to the media by a jail employee was unauthorized and, in fact, was released in defiance of a direct order by the jail’s superintendent that the photo was to have been kept confidential to protect the privacy of a child. These same newspapers splashed Jordan’s mug shot all over their front pages, sensationalized the crime, and uncritically reported everything the now-discredited Lawrence County PA district attorney John Bongivengo alleged about the crime.
“More than anything,” a top producer at ABC News told me, “it was the release and distribution of that photo that created the public perception of Jordan’s guilt.” These three newspapers were at the center of events that secured a lynch-mob conviction of Jordan in the court of public opinion.
I have personally informed reporters from the Post-Gazette and the Tribune-Review (the New Castle News has never returned my calls) that the physical evidence suggests a handgun was the murder weapon, not a shotgun; yet these newspapers have failed to report this information and, in fact, continue to report that a shotgun was the murder weapon (without even so much as an “alleged” as a modifier).
It is my opinion that these papers don’t give a damn about the truth or any high-minded public interests; they want the court proceedings opened so the spectacle they created can continue. There’s money in spectacle and none in justice.
They are prolonging Jordan’s wrongful incarceration and delaying his chance to prove his innocence. They are heaping more abuse upon the injustice they have already helped facilitate. It makes me sick.
The situation in Indiana is different in its particulars, but the net result of justice delayed is the same.
Since January, Paul Henry Gingerich has been attempting—without success—to get Judge Rex Reed’s and Judge Duane Huffer’s Kosciusko County Circuit Court to provide a true and complete court record so his appeal can proceed at the appellate level. Despite numerous filings on Paul Henry’s behalf and orders from the higher court to the lower court, the Kosciusko Cabal has failed to comply.
Paul Henry is constitutionally entitled to an appeal under US and Indiana law. A complete record is a requisite part of a fair appeal. There are good reasons to believe the court records provided by the Kosciusko Circuit Court may be incomplete. Several meritorious issues await resolution in the appeal, yet the Kosciusko Cabal is thwarting presentation of these issues at the appellate level by its willful contempt of orders from the higher court to produce a complete record.
Today Paul Henry’s lawyer Monica Foster is filing a “Verified Notice of Failure to Comply with Court Order and Fourth Motion for Writ in Aid of Appellate Jurisdiction,” in which the appellate court is being asked to reverse Paul Henry’s waiver order and conviction, and to remand his case for a new trial before a judge selected by the Indiana Supreme Court.
Today’s filing, though couched in precise legal language, is anything but dry reading. (I laughed out loud when I first read it.) It is an excellent example of what the work of a top-notch defense attorney looks like.
You can access the document at http://justice4juveniles.com/index.php?topic=488.msg1361#msg1361.
Buck up, my friends. Have faith. This day may mark a date when justice is delayed for Jordan and Paul Henry, but come what may (and corrupt judges, prosecutors, and journalists notwithstanding), justice will ultimately not be denied.
Groove of the Day