Fighting for Useful Legal Counsel in Arizona
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) picked up my pending case challenging inadequate medical services and unconstitutional conditions of confinement in 2011. We're expecting a trial date in 2015. We are attempting to force Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) to change its policy and practice of housing the mentally ill in isolation for extended periods of time. State prison is extremely poor, prisons are understaffed and riddled with security flaws. I am an adamant critic and am vocal about its policies and practices, therefore the administration has made my life here in prison severely difficult.
I am also working on my criminal convictions. I've navigated myself through multiple tiers of appeals. I really had a hard time exhausting all my state remedies in the Arizona State Courts. It took me almost eleven years to figure out, but most recently I filed my first federal habeas corpus petition in Arizona Federal District Court. I am requesting that the federal court appoint me a lawyer to investigate the possibility of state judicial corruption against the Tucson Police Department and the Pima County Attorneys Office. Last week I filed a Writ of Certiorari. This is a petition to the United States's highest court; they only address issues involving "Constitutional magnitude." I'm asking them to resolve the Constitutional question that was left open in Martinez V. Ryan, 623 F.3d 731, 132S.CT1309(1023) of:
"Whether a defendant in a state criminal case has a federal Constitutional Right to effective Assistance of Counsel at initial-review-collateral-proceedings specifically with respect to his ineffective-assistance-of-trial-counsel-claim."
Because state law does not mandate Effective Assistance of Counsel during a convicted criminal's Initial-Review Collateral Proceedings (Ariz. R. Crim. P. Rule 32), I'm able to believe that prisoners in Arizona are being discriminated against because they're indigent and cannot afford effective counsel during their Initial-Review Collateral Proceedings. The United States Supreme Court only takes 3% of the cases filed each term, so the odds of them taking my case is nil, but imagine if they did. WOW, this would mean that a pro se litigant would have molded the law to conform to the needs of the oppressed here at the very bottom of society's heap. A person is only as big as his dreams.
Fortunately, it does not end there. A Section 1983 Civil Rights Action prohibits a state from discriminating pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provides that:
"No state shall... deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the Law."
The clause is "a direction that all persons similarly situated should be treated alike."(City of Cleburne V. Cleburne Living ctr, 4730 U.S. 432,439 (1985))
I am determined to build a strong campaign to gain Injunctive Relief in a class action seeking to remedy the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment violations caused by Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 32's past and continuing operations. Our actions, even if successful, will not demonstrate the invalidity of our conviction or sentence, therefore Section 1983 Class Action is the proper vehicle.(Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74,82 (2005).)
If you feel you were denied Effective Assistance of trial council, and a Fourteenth Amendment right to effective assistance of Appeals Counsel for your Initial-Review Collateral Proceedings because either you did not have an attorney during your first Rule 32, or your Arizona R. Crim. P Rule 32 Lawyer was ineffective for failing to investigate Trial Counsel claims and/or other substantial right claims during trial, it would be important to draft out a notarized affidavit outlining the facts in your specific case and send them to the addresses below. If we're able to gain enough affidavits, then we could proceed to present these facts to a federal district court asking them to appoint class counsel and certify our case as a class action. All we can do is try! In Strength and Solidarity, Revolution!
Send your notarized affidavits to:
Arizona Prison Watch
P.O. Box 20494
PHX, AZ 85036
Middle Ground Prison Reform
139 E Encanto Drive
Tempe, AZ 85281
Arizona Justice Project
P.O. Box 875920
Tempe, AZ 85287-5930
MIM(Prisons) adds: Please note to not send your affidavits to MIM(Prisons). We do not have the resources to copy and mail your affidavits to the addresses listed above.
We commend this comrade on discovering loopholes in the legal system and attempting to remedy them to the advantage of the most oppressed in this country. We encourage comrades in Arizona to participate in this effort to provide more legal support to prisoners in the state (at least on paper).
And we must remember that our struggle cannot stop there. While a successful habeas corpus case may help a prisoner to be released, a release is only as valuable as what you do with your time when you've made it outside. A recently released comrade wrote of the challenges s/he will face after h parole, and the difficultes s/he will have in carrying out political work, even though s/he is supposedly now "free." The trend toward individualism of general legal counsel is one reason why the MIM(Prisons)-led Prisoners' Legal Clinic only works on issues directly related to expanding our ability to organize, educate, and build toward an end to illegitimate imprisonment altogether (i.e. communist society). We believe people should fight for their release, but that they also should struggle for the release of the world's majority from the chains of imperialism.
Related to the topic of carefully selecting our battles, we have written extensively on the limitations of focusing on fighting housing mentally ill prisoners in long-term isolation.(1) Some shortcomings of this strategy are legitimization of long-term isolation for not-yet-mentally-ill prisoners, and the fact that long-term isolation leads to mental illness in prisoners even if they entered isolation with sound mind and body. Of course we agree with the principle that mentally ill prisoners should not be housed in long-term isolation. But we take it further to say that no prisoners should be housed in long-term isolation, and we see no value in selling out some comrades on this issue in order to save others; eventually everyone held in long-term isolation will suffer mental illness. Abolish the SHU!