Posts Tagged ‘Jordan Brown wrongfully accused

25
Mar
11

story of job, revisited

When Chris Brown answered the phone the other day, I could tell right away from his voice that something was wrong. “Chris, are you still sick?” I asked.

“No,” he said, “my sister died Sunday night.”

Chris’ sister was Misti Brown Kirschner, age 36. Misti lived in New Castle, worked as a vendor at Heinz Field, and loved being with her friends and family.

The last time Chris and I had spoken was when the Superior Court ruling was announced. He told me then that Misti had been in intensive care for some time and that her condition was unchanged and still undiagnosed; she was being kept alive by technology. Nevertheless she was happy that the tide had begun to turn for Jordan.

By the time the doctors finally figured out that the cause of her condition was Swine Flu and had her airlifted to Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, it was too late. Misti had endured a long and very difficult illness. She never recovered and passed away on March 20th.

“At least her suffering is over,” Chris said. Something in the way he said this gave the impression it was a practiced line, something he’d already used to reassure friends who are worried for his state of mind and health in the wake of yet another tragedy.

Chris said his mother Janice is coping but devastated.

Out of a population of 12.7 million in Pennsylvania, the flu had claimed only 39 lives through mid-February. What are the chances that another such death would strike Chris Brown and his family after everything they have already endured?

It is as if lightning has struck Chris multiple times.

Like the Biblical character Job, everything has been taken from the man. He has lost the woman he loved and their unborn child; he has lost the daughters he loved and fathered as if they had been his own; he has lost his employment and almost all his worldly possessions; his son Jordan has been taken from him, threatened with lifelong hopeless imprisonment, and both have been deprived of the comfort they might have provided one another through these two years of anguish.

Through it all, ugly hateful people have defamed and slandered him, threatened him (even with weapons), shunned him, stolen from him, insulted him, and incited total strangers against him. Through it all, his tormenters have been celebrated in the media, their hypocrisies overlooked, their characters unexamined, their motives and falsehoods unchallenged. If I were a believer in conventional religion, I could only conclude that Satan is up to the same evil designs as described in the Book of Job.

Over these last two years Chris and I have had many deep talks and, like Job, Chris has experienced innumerable lows bordering on despair; yet he has steadfastly remained true to his commitment to endure and always travel the “high road.” Chris is not a perfect man (God knows, he’s certainly had poor luck choosing women), but he is a good man who has always exercised remarkable patience and equanimity in the face of his trials—the “patience of Job.”

There are a lot of people who would prefer to believe that Chris’ ordeals are God’s retribution for some past wrongdoing or sins. There are a lot of people who would prefer to cast Chris as a latter day Joe Btfslk (Al Capp’s character in the “Li’l Abner” comic strip, a jinx, who was so unlucky that a tiny rain cloud followed him wherever he went). But these are all the same people who, despite all evidence to the contrary, believe life is fair. It isn’t—at least not on its own.

Like luck, fairness is something that we create in the ways we live and in the ways we treat others. If you believe life should be fair, you must be fair—otherwise fairness is just an empty platitude, wishful thinking, a sham, a self-delusion.

The other night I told Chris the same thing Holly and I told ourselves when her cancer had been diagnosed after fifteen years of dealing with multiple sclerosis: “At least you know you can deal with this. After everything you’ve been through, you can put this in perspective. It’s like you’ve been in training for this. You know it can’t break you.”

He agreed.

Yet in the next moment after I asked, he did tell me he doesn’t know how he and his mother will pay for Misti’s funeral expenses, he is so broke. The funeral director has given him a big break on the costs, yet he still needs to come up with about $1,500—a daunting amount given his present circumstances and the need to continue traveling to Erie each day to support Jordan through his ordeal.

“Would it be alright if I asked readers of the blog to help?” I asked. After a moment’s hesitation he said he would be happy for any help we might provide.

So this is what I suggest. If you want to help Chris, please leave a comment on today’s post to express your ability and willingness (I will keep your comment from posting publicly if you ask me to). I will get back to you by private e-mail with specific instructions. Gifts will need to be made to Chris directly by check or money order (not to Jordan’s trust fund and not to me). I will aggregate your contributions and forward them to Chris.

One person has already volunteered to send $500, so we are already a third of the way there. When you contact me I will be able to tell you how close to the goal we are or if it has been reached.

In the story of Job, God restored everything to Job (and more) that Satan had been allowed to take away to test Job’s faithfulness. I am hopeful that by assisting Chris in this time of need, we can demonstrate that God has not forsaken him and that this is the point beyond which things will begin improving for Chris, and that his family life and happiness will be restored.

Please help make this so and offer to help him today. Any size gift, even if it is very small, will make a huge impact. The funeral will be held this evening at 6:00 pm. I hope we will be able to give Chris some good news by then.

Thank you.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Anna Netrebko and Andrew Swait performing “Pie Jesu”

(from Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Requiem)

24
Mar
11

esprit de corps

One of the most mystifying things about the Jordan Brown case is why the police never seriously pursued an investigation of Kenzie Houk’s former boyfriend Adam Harvey, the only character in this whole sordid affair with a known motive for seeing Kenzie dead.

It was Adam Harvey, after all, who had been engaged in a bitter paternity and child-support battle with Kenzie and who, after paying for the support of Kenzie’s youngest daughter Adalynn for years, discovered through DNA testing that Adalynn is not his daughter afterall—and that Kenzie had not been honest with him in more ways than one.

She had cheated him of his money and cheated on him by sleeping with another man. That’s blood-boiling, seeing-red motive. Why would the police ignore it?

And it was Adam Harvey who was the object of not one, but two PFA (protection from abuse) orders taken out against him by Kenzie in 2006 and 2008. These documents are public record and surely would have been accessed as a first step in any honest police investigation. Why then could the police overlook key statements made by Kenzie herself that:

(From the 2008 PFA regarding a February 3, 2008 incident)

“ADAM CALLED MY MOTHERS AND THREATENED TO TAKE MY WHOLE FAMILY OUT WHEN HE COMES TO TOWN. HE HAS LEFT SEVERAL MESSAGES THREATENING TO HURT ME AND MY FAMILY. I AM IN FEAR OF HIM HURTING ME PHYSICALLY OR MY FAMILY. HE HAS A DRINKING PROBLEM THAT IS UNCONTROLLABLE. HE HAS THREATENED TO HIRE SOMEONE TO HURT ME SEVERAL TIMES. I HAVE BEEN TALKING TO SHENANGO POLICE AND THEY LISTENED TO THE MESSAGE ON MY MOTHERS CELL PHONE AND SUGGESTED TO ME TO GET A PFA.”

(emphasis added)

(And from the 2006 PFA regarding a May 26, 2006 incident)

“WE WERE ARGUING REGARDING MY NEICE THEN ADAM AND I STARTED TO ARGUE. I SAID SHUT UP AND ACT LIKE THE ADULT AND HE CAME INTO THE HOUSE WHERE I WAS COOKING AND THREW THE FOOD OUTSIDE AND STARTED TO ARGUE AGAIN. HE THEN THREATENED ME. I WENT TO LEAVE IN MY CAR AND HE TOOK THE KEYS; THREW THEM AT ME AND PUSHED ME AGAINST THE STEERING WHEEL. HE LEFT A BIG BRUISE ON MY FOREARM. ADAM ABUSES ALCOHOL AND DRINKS DAILY. HIS BROTHER SHOWED UP AND THREATENED ME AND THEY BOTH LEFT WHEN THE POLICE ARRIVED. THE POLICE SUGGESTED I GET A PFA.”

Elsewhere on the same form, Kenzie cited the following as prior incidents of abuse that Adam had allegedly committed against her: ”MENTAL ABUSE; THREATENING TO KILL ME OR HAVE ME KILLED BY HIS FRIENDS IN HILLSVILLE.

(emphasis added in both quotes)

Now, let us consider the timing of the murders in relation to Adam’s discovery from the DNA evidence that Kenzie had played him for a royal fool. According to what Chris Brown has told me, Adam discovered Kenzie’s infidelity and deception only a week or two before she and the baby were murdered. There was not even an opportunity for Adam to cool off. He must have still been boiling with rage on February 20th.

So why were the police so quick to dismiss Adam Harvey as a suspect? The police say that even though he’d returned to Newcastle from where he’d been living and working in North Carolina, Adam had a “solid alibi” on the morning of the murders because he was sleeping at his parents’ home on Boston Avenue and his truck was surrounded by newly-fallen snow. There were no tire tracks when the police arrived, and his father vouched for him.

Yet given his relationships with lowlife friends (and at least one family member who had threatened Kenzie), Adam certainly had the opportunity to hire someone or otherwise arrange with somebody to have Kenzie killed. His background report says he earns between $50,000 and $75,000 a year—so he probably had the means to pay. Everyone knows that such arrangements leave no snow tracks. Given the victim’s own assertion and belief that Adam could have hired a surrogate to do the hit, the police characterization of Adam’s alibi as “solid” is, by any reasonable judgment, an overstatement to say the least.

Why would the police have been so quick to back off?

And remember, more than a year ago Jordan’s lawyers received a tip that Adam had tearfully admitted to a friend at a party, “I killed my old girlfriend,” and this tip was passed on to police in writing—though more than a month later Trooper Jeffrey Martin, who was heading up the murder investigation, denied to reporters any knowledge of this letter which had been addressed to him. So what was really going on? Why did Trooper Martin apparently lie?

It was a mystery to me until last night when a reader sent me a clue which suggests there is much more to this story than one sees on the surface. This clue is an example of how eventually, given enough time and digging, the whole true story will eventually be revealed.

This reader’s e-mail began: “When they run into problems, sons of fathers with status are kept out of the news and courts. But I’ve never seen it at the expense of an eleven year old boy.

“This guy, who is in his sixties and lives at the same address as Adam J. Harvey (ex-boyfriend of Kenzie), is most  probably his father. If he is, take a look at who he is:

Detachment Listing and Detachment Officers / Department of Pennsylvania

Marine Corps League

http://www.pamcleague.org/mcldetoff.htm

New Castle Marines #788  (4/01/09)

Commandant: Charles Harvey / 506 Boston Ave / New Castle, Pa 16101 / (724) 654-7309

Sr. Vice Commandant: Ronald E. Jones / 1600 Grove Ave / New Castle PA 16101 / (724) 658-5448

Jr. Vice Commandant: David L. Thomas / 426 Fairgreen Ave / New Castle PA 16101 / (724) 654-1178

Judge Advocate: John P. Wherthey / 2414 Anne Dr / New Castle PA 16105 / (724) 652-7901

Jr. Past Commandant: Claude D.Shorts / 109 Germanski La / New Castle, PA 16102 / (724) 667-9422; Dan Chuey 132 S. Myers Ave / Sharon PA 16146 / (724) 699-6872

Adjutant: Richard W. Nonnemacher / 1201 Highland Ave, Apt #1 / New Castle PA 16105-2645 / (724) 657-8746

Paymaster: Gerald F. Kern / 414 E. Moody Ave / New Castle PA 16105 / (724) 652-4371

Chaplain: Emmett W. Shaffer / 315 Jones St / New Castle PA 16101 / (724) 652-9245

Sergeant-at-Arms: Fred Humphries / Conner School Road / Wampum PA 16157 / (724) 535-7243

“Now I understand why the police were so quick to accept the feeble alibi and drop Adam Harvey as a suspect. It may also explain why the media comments in PA are so negative; why the justice system in Newcastle is denying Jordan his rights; why Melissa had her posts on Topix deleted; why I had unusual difficulty–several times–posting to CBS Local Pittsburgh in response to a poster called “Dallas” who was knowledgeable, smooth, and polite—but adamant beyond reason considering his education (IMO), that Jordan was guilty. This news would explain much of what is happening to Jordan,” he said.

“It looks like the police and prosecution were not inept but something much worse.”

These are the reader’s conclusions, not mine. However, he has aroused my curiosity enough that I have initiated background checks on everyone connected with this Marine Corps League chapter. We will be looking for any connections whatsoever to the police, prosecutors, and other authorities in Lawrence County. We are using databases not available to the public and our cybersleuths and other investigators will keep digging until we discover the truth about exactly how this blatant miscarriage of justice has been engineered.

In time the truth will come out and any persons who are accessories to the murders and to the framing of an innocent child will be held to account. (Neither one is an insignificant crime, but a serious felony involving prison time.) If anyone knows something they are hiding, this is their last chance to come forward and avoid more serious consequences for themselves and their loved ones.

The Marines’ famous slogan is “Semper Fidelis” (Always Faithful), and signifies the dedication and loyalty that individual Marines have for “Corps and Country”, even after leaving the service. It is easy to see how loyalty between Marine veterans could become so personal that loyalty to Country, its laws and ideals, could become lost among drinking buddies—and we do know from the long line of DUI convictions in the public record that Charles Harvey and his sons have been heavy drinkers.

Now is the time for some sober reflection. This absurd story has played out far too long. It is time for grunts and civilians alike to be faithful to the truth and restore justice in Western Pennsylvania.

It’s time to wake up and heed what a wise champion of freedom named Voltaire once said: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to the Angels performing “My Boyfriend’s Back”

12
Mar
11

a ruling at last

Chris Brown called me last night. “Are you sitting down?” he asked. “The Superior Court ruling went in our favor.”

The State Superior Court waited until the end of the business day Friday to announce its ruling that Judge Motto’s earlier decision denying Jordan’s decertification as a juvenile based on Jordan’s failure to admit to the murders or express remorse did indeed deny Jordan’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The court remanded Jordan Brown’s decertification hearing back to the Lawrence County Common Pleas Court where Judge Dominick Motto will have another chance to get it right. This time he will not be permitted to consider the prosecution’s bogus argument that Jordan is not amenable to rehabilitation because he will not admit to a crime he did not commit or express remorse for alleged actions he never took.

I guess my reaction to this good news was not what Chris had been expecting. He had been high-fiving it with everyone since hearing the news.

“But what will you guys do when the prosecution argues that the seriousness of the crime demands an adult trial? Motto has already shown that he’s amenable to irrational reasoning. It’s inevitable that the prosecution will roll out the ‘adult crime, adult time’ argument. What if Motto’s ego prevents him from admitting he was wrong and he still rules against Jordan being tried as a juvenile?”

There was dead silence. “Hello, Chris, are you still there?”

He was.

Chris reminded me that we had satisfied all the statutory requirements for Jordan to have been decertified as a juvenile. He reminded me that Motto’s earlier ruling that Jordan would be tried as an adult rested entirely on the prosecution’s novel and erroneous argument that rehabilitation is impossible unless someone admits to a crime before guilt is even established or proved.

“Well, maybe this Superior Court ruling will give Motto the political cover to claim that his hands are tied, and he will do what he should have done in the first place,” I allowed.

We once again returned to high-five territory. It was wonderful hearing joy in Chris’ voice after two years of discouragement. I did not persist with my wet-blanket questions. I did not say that I have lost all faith in Motto’s integrity, and that I believe the judge is himself not amenable to rehabilitation.

(The next hearing will be held, maybe within just a few weeks, to determine whether Jordan will be tried as a juvenile or as an adult.)

I hope I’m wrong about Motto. Maybe the next hearing will go our way. I let Chris get back to his happy calls and to a well-deserved night of celebration.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Kool & The Gang performing “Celebration”

19
Feb
11

overdue

Yesterday I received a call from Chris Brown encouraging me to contact one of Jordan’s lawyers about a longstanding disagreement I have had with the legal team about their approach to media relations. By any objective measure, their approach has been an unmitigated disaster, and there has been nothing I have been able to do in almost two years to get them to change course.

Even though my last phone call to Jordan’s lawyer had gone unanswered for more than three weeks, I agreed to place another call last night. “He promised he will call you back right away,” Chris assured me.

But he didn’t call back right away, and I was not surprised.

I have long since given up and moved on. The reason for my call three weeks ago—an opportunity to make an appearance on a major network news program—has probably evaporated in the intervening time. Yet as I pointed out to Chris, it probably makes little practical difference because so many such opportunities have already been squandered along the way. This one can’t make things any worse.

I will continue to proclaim Jordan’s innocence on this blog and will make necessary updates to Jordan’s website, but it is impossible for me to do any more to help as long as Jordan’s lawyers keep sandbagging efforts to get the truth out to the broader media.

There is a reason I have been the only person writing about Jordan’s innocence, and there is a reason my arguments have failed to achieve any traction in the mainstream media: the lawyers’ refusal to show the media documentary proof that the claims I have been making about the evidence are true.

From the beginning, Jordan’s lawyers have failed (or refused?) to see that the prosecution of this case has been political, and not merely legal. They have persisted in their conceit that Jordan’s exoneration and freedom can be won in the courtroom exclusively, regardless of whatever is happening in the court of public opinion. That they have been wrong has been amply proved by the prosecution’s outlandish tactics and arguments which reveal its sense of impunity—that it can get away with anything, no matter how absurd, untrue and unfair, in making its case. (For example, the interlocutory appeal to the Superior Court should never have been necessary.)

I am convinced that Jordan could have been released, and his name cleared, long before now had his case been aggressively advocated in the media from the beginning. Yet it has not, and is not, being so advocated and as a result will likely drag on and on for a long time to come.

In the meantime, poor Jordan will continue to waste away in detention and will continue to be an object of sick people’s misplaced hatred.

My personal consolation is that we have learned from this unfortunate state of affairs and have approached Paul Henry’s situation in an entirely different way. Paul Henry’s lawyer Monica Foster would never have signed on to our advocacy team had she not agreed wholeheartedly that the case should command a high profile in the media. Already—less than two months into our initiative—this aggressive strategy is proving its efficacy. I am guessing Paul Henry’s freedom will be achieved before Jordan’s.

The juvenile justice system almost everywhere in America is broken, and it makes as little sense to depend on lawyers to fix it as to rely on leeches in the treatment of disease.

A more rational and balanced approach is long overdue.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Dixie Chicks performing “Long Time Gone”

01
Feb
11

innocent and exploited

Everybody’s using the kid, even those who are campaigning for Jordan Brown’s fate to be decided in a juvenile court.

Here’s an interview of Jody Kent, executive director of the Washington-based Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, and through the whole interview not once was the fact of Jordan’s innocence mentioned. Youth justice advocates are crowing right now because Ms. Kent got some air time on the Alyona Show because it serves their purposes—whether it is the outlawing of Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP), or not charging and trying children as adults, or not housing children in adult prisons—but no one is talking right now about the fact, or even the possibility, that Jordan is innocent. It is almost as if no one cares that the kid is wrongfully accused and is just collateral damage in a big political show.

 

Just look at this interview. Through the whole damned thing, the only graphic used was Jordan’s two-in-the-morning mug shot which makes him look guilty-as-hell. It should never have been released in the first place. The superintendent of the Lawrence County Jail issued specific instructions that because Jordan is a juvenile, the mug shot was not to have been released. One of his underlings disobeyed the order, and the media went nuts. The superintendent was subsequently sacked, and the underling was merely demoted but remained employed. Does that sound fishy to you? My guess is that someone in the prosecutor’s office encouraged the underling to do it, knowing that this would benefit the prosecution’s case. Otherwise, why does he still have a job?

A top producer at ABC News told me that, had it not been for that picture, the media would not have declared Jordan guilty within days of his arrest and suggested that he is some kind of sociopath. Had it not been for that mug shot, the story would never have gone as big as it did.

We have put lots of pictures out there on the Internet which show Jordan as the normal little boy that he is, and yet everyone continues to use this mug shot as a “poster boy” image to grind their particular axes.

Jody, it’s nice that you slipped in the word “alleged” in your interview—thanks for that—but it came off as an afterthought.

Remember, the fundamental evil in this story is that Jordan Brown is being used and exploited by a corrupt law enforcement and court system to promote its political agenda and the careers of unworthy public servants.

Even though the state has robbed him of his innocence, Jordan Brown is innocent of any wrongdoing.

۞

(2:00 pm central time)  Here is a new video about Jordan’s case which has just gone live on YouTube minutes ago. Please tell everyone you can about it. At last the true story of Jordan’s wrongful arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment is beginning to be told by someone besides me.

 

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Big Audio Dynamite performing “Innocent Child”

27
Jan
11

box of sand

Last night JC posted a comment to January 25th‘s “Oral Arguments” asking if there is a chance that Jordan Brown will be acquitted and the short answer is “Yes, eventually.”

But I emphasize “eventually.” The scandalous thing about this case is that there is, from Jordan’s perspective, no short answer. He has already spent 15% of his life in captivity, and his case has not even gone to trial. If this case drags out for another year, he will have spent more than 20% of his life in jail for something he didn’t do.

Now here is the really perverse thing: there is no incentive for the Neanderthal State to give Jordan a speedy trial. The longer the state can drag this out, the better it is for them—win or lose.

When Jordan was snatched out of his bed in the middle of the night and thrown into an adult jail, he was a little kid whose feet dangled above the floor when he sat in a chair. Now his feet touch the floor, and he’s forty pounds heavier. If the state can drag this out long enough, he’ll be shaving by the time he comes to trial. He won’t look so small and innocent. He will have been hardened by his contact with young criminals. He will just look more like someone who could have committed a crime, whether he really did or not.

Even if the state loses, it is better for some of the players if this happens in the distant future and not now or soon. Why? Because the Neanderthals have been pursuing their persecution of this child without any evidence that he committed these heinous murders.

All along the prosecutors have claimed there is “solid” or “strong” evidence that is the basis of their case against Jordan. But they have never shown us the evidence. They’ve only claimed they have it, and they have been making this claim up until the present day.

Example from an October 1, 2009 statement as reported in the media: “The prosecution argued that Brown had gunshot residue on his shoulder…” Do you know how much gunshot residue was found on the shoulder of his shirt? Only one particle where there should have been thousands! “…and that his youth shotgun—found in the boy’s bedroom—smelled as if it had been recently fired.” Well, yes, the shotgun had been fired the day before the murder and Jordan had not cleaned it. But the prosecution has never admitted that the shotgun was not, and could not have been, the murder weapon. The prosecution’s own “strong evidence” shows that the entry wound was too small for the cause of death to have been a shotgun blast. There were too few pellets recovered from Kenzie’s wound and from the crime scene for it to have been a shotgun death. A handgun loaded with a shotshell was the murder weapon. This is the only conclusion to be drawn from the physical evidence the state actually has.

If Jordan had used his shotgun as the police and prosecutors have claimed, he should have been covered from head to foot with gunpowder residue, as well as blood and brains—but he was not. Kenzie’s face should have been horribly disfigured, but it was not. A Houk family relative claimed to me that there had been postmortem facial reconstruction so there could have been an open-casket funeral, but I learned that this was a lie. The funeral director expressed surprise that no such reconstruction was necessary.

Much has been made by the prosecution of a supposed threat by Jordan to “pop” Kenzie and her daughters—a claim carefully examined by Kenzie herself and found not to have been credible. The source of this fantastic claim was a Houk family member who is a convicted felon and purported drug dealer. How much credence should be given to his story? According to Kenzie (who should surely have known better than any of us): “None.”

Another example from a February 23, 2009 media report: “The blue blanket, which has a quarter-sized hole that appeared to be singed from a shotgun blast, supports a claim that the crime was premeditated, Lawrence County District Attorney John Bongivengo said. ‘The operating theory is that he covered the gun with the blanket to hide it when he came downstairs’ from his bedroom to shoot Houk, who was in a first-floor bedroom, Bongivengo said.” How much gunpowder residue—or blood and brains—did the state crime lab find on the blanket? None. The hole in the blanket proved to have been nothing more than an old cigarette burn.

And yet this same blue blanket appears prominently in a third late-night police interview of Jenessa Houk, Jordan’s 7-year-old stepsister who had given police two previous interviews earlier in the day which did not implicate Jordan in any way. The crime lab’s analysis of the blue blanket provides strong evidence that Janessa’s third interview was most likely coerced and manipulated by the police interviewer Trooper Janice Wilson, who has since retired from the state police.

The state has been lying all along about the strength of its evidence, and it is in the state’s interest that the evidence not be shown for what it is (or should I say “isn’t”?) until all the liars are retired and long gone and sipping Piña Coladas on some distant island beach.

This pattern of deception reminds me of a story I read long ago about El Cid, who left a heavy box as collateral with money lenders he tapped in order to pay his troops. The money lenders believed that the locked box contained gold, but when El Cid was long gone they discovered that the box was filled with sand.

Isn’t it time that we ask the state to open its box of evidence and show us what it does in fact contain? There have been enough lies and misrepresentations. A young child’s life is being wasted away to benefit the careers of dishonest adults.

Open the box now and let in the light!

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to the Broadway Cast of “Hair” performing “Let the Sunshine In”

25
Jan
11

oral arguments

Anyone expecting a showy Inherit-the-Wind legal show will be disappointed today.

While today’s oral arguments before the Superior Court in the matter of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Jordan Brown will certainly be momentous, the hearing itself will consist of each side having 15 minutes to state its case before a panel of three judges, and then it will be over. If you blink, you’ll miss it.

After the hearing is over and the attorneys give their obligatory courthouse-step media interviews, we may be waiting weeks or even months to learn what the court decides.

Representing the Neanderthal State will be Pennsylvania Chief Deputy Attorney General Christopher D. Carusone, head of the Appeals and Legal Services Division of the Attorney General’s Office. He will likely be backed up by Deputy Attorney General Anthony J. Krastek, the attack dog prosecutor assigned to win this political case by any means necessary. 

Representing Jordan Brown, who was 11 years old at the time his future stepmother Kenzie Houk and her unborn baby were murdered (and who is now 13), will be Lourdes M. Rosado, Associate Director of the renowned Juvenile Law Center, which is based in Philadelphia. She will be backed up by Jordan’s local defense attorneys Dennis Elisco and David Acker. 

The judges hearing the arguments will be Cheryl Lynn Allen, Judith Ference Olson and Senior Judge Robert Colville.  

The Superior Court will not hear arguments about whether Jordan is innocent or guilty of this crime, nor will it hear arguments that Jordan has been incarcerated for almost two years without any credible evidence, physical or otherwise, that he even committed this crime. It will not hear arguments that the murders were more likely caused by Kenzie’s former boyfriend Adam Harvey, who had repeatedly threatened to have her murdered over a bitter child support and paternity battle in which he and Kenzie had been embroiled up until the time of her and the baby’s murders.  

Instead, today’s hearing will focus on the issues surrounding the state’s intention to try Jordan as an adult which, were the state successful in gaining a conviction, would entail a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole—a barbaric penalty if inflicted on a child and proscribed by international law. 

Here is a description of the issues to be addressed today, as lifted from the Juvenile Law Center’s website:

Juvenile Law Center, along with private attorneys David Acker and Dennis Elisco, filed this brief to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania on behalf of Jordan Brown, an eleven-year-old charged with the murder of his stepmother.  The trial court had denied Jordan’s decertification to the juvenile justice system, holding that in order to demonstrate his amenability to treatment within the juvenile system, he had to first take responsibility for the offense. If convicted in the adult system, Jordan will receive a mandatory life without parole sentence and will be the youngest person in the country tried as an adult.  This brief argued that the trial court’s interpretation of the transfer statute (42 Pa.C.S. § 6322) requiring Jordan’s confession at the pre-adjudicatory decertification hearing in order to demonstrate his ability to be rehabilitated in the juvenile system, was in violation of Jordan’s right against self-incrimination and rights to due process and fundamental fairness under both the Pennsylvania and United States Constitutions.  

An amicus brief filed by the Campaign for Youth Justice, Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth and attorneys from Baker McKenzie, argued that the trial court failed to consider developmental research confirming that children are more amenable to treatment and rehabilitation.  The brief also provided a historical overview of the Pennsylvania juvenile justice system and demonstrated that the juvenile system is better equipped to try Jordan and provide rehabilitation and treatment to Jordan if found delinquent. The adult system would provide severe consequences to Jordan.  Finally, amici argued that there is consensus among other states and the international community that disfavors trying youth as young as Jordan as adults. 

Like you, I will be standing by to read media reports to see if the hearing holds any surprises. Please return to this Diary post later in the day for more news.

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As far as I can see from the news reports out of Pittsburgh, nobody pulled a rabbit out of the hat today.

The Superior Court judges asked good questions of the lawyers on both sides of the case. Based on reports from people who were at the hearing, the judges seemed to direct their sharpest questions at Mr. Carusone, who seemed caught up short in answering them, particularly questions related to whether Jordan’s Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination were violated by Judge Dominick Motto. They wondered aloud, and described their concerns as “troubling,” about whether Jordan would have been forced to give up his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent in order to be certified as a juvenile. Unbeknownst to Mr. Carusone, Ms. Rosado had been involved in a case upon which the state had based its absurd logic–Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Davis–and Ms. Rosado was able to authoritatively demonstrate to the judges that the state had interpreted this case backwards. In a highly unusual move, one of the judges publicly complimented Ms. Rosado on the quality of her presentation. 

Yet questions and compliments are a far cry from a ruling, and the time Jordan continues to be incarcerated will continue to accrue as the wheels of justice slowly grind on and on.

About the most exciting thing on the news today was a TV reporter leaning forward and delivering his lines in a stage whisper, like he didn’t want to disturb the judges’ deliberations just beyond the courtroom door. It was really… hmmm… tense.

Debbie Houk was interviewed again, repeating her worn-out line that nothing would bring her babies back and that they should lock up the boy and throw away the key. Not a note of doubt or compassion.

(She’ll have a hard time adjusting when Jordan is found innocent.)

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Groove of the Day

Listen to Richie Havens performing “Motherless Child”