Trash Talk: I’m Still Mad In Memphis West Edition

For any that carelessly stumble in here without having read the earlier Emptywheel blog ice pick into the temple of southern comfort regarding the West Memphis Three and the obliteration of fundamental fairness occurring in an American court right down the stinking street, go back to go. Do not collect jack squat on the way. Seriously.

What happened today in Jonesboro Arkansas was just not right. And the addled morons in the citizenry and wooden bobbleheads in the media are pitching it as some triumph of justice. Get. The. Fuck. Out.

The West Memphis Three were railroaded into a guilty finding today – AGAIN – and, yes, it was far worse than the original lynch mob mentality religious paranoid bullshit because everybody, the entire world, knows the score this time. This is how US society dies and American Rule of Law dies. Take a good look people, because you are seeing it live like it was WWE Live!

Ooops, wait, I guess this was supposed to be Trash Talk huh? I musta got lost. Somewhere down the line of absurdity. First off tonight looks like the Hot’Lanta Dirty Bird are fouling some Jacksonville Jaguars on the old time broadcast TeeVee channel owned by Fox TV. Long as they ain’t tape delaying Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Formula One, that is all good. Hmm, seems the Falcons are up 3-0 as I write these words. I really like the Falcons. Matt Ryan has been better and more consistent than people give him credit for. Tony Gonzales is not what he once was maybe, but is still damn good. And Julio Jones paired with Roddy White as bookend receivers? Are you kidding me? Crikey. The Jags, on the other hand, have some growing issues. David Garrard has had some moments, but at this point, he is just a lead in for Blaine Gabbert and the future. MoJo Drew and a middlin defense is not enough to carry the franchise. The Dirty Birds are a force right here and now; the Jags, not so much.

But the game I am watching is the Cardinals at the hallowed tundra of Lambeau Field to visit the Pack. So far, Cards are holding their own, even are ahead 3-0; but the Pack and Rodgers are on the move. I will have to say, Darnell Dockett and the Cards defense is looking better than advertised.

It would appear that, although they have been pretty quiet, the Packers are going to be just fine. Give a quality talent and personality like Aaron Rodgers the confidence of a champion, which he sure has now, and the consistency of coaching and awesomeness of fan support of Green Bay, and that is a potent mix. They are never going to be like the Pats and be vying for an undefeated season, but they will be a force to be reckoned with when the fall turns to winter and the games count extra.

Back to the Cards. As most of you know, I am uhhhhh usually rather skeptical of the Cards. Still am. But they have some pieces; some real good pieces. This Pat Peterson rookie they have is going to be a defensive Larry Fitzgerald; he has those kind of skills and intangibles. They have a shot. We shall see.

One last thing. My friend, our friend, Jim White is going to visit some doctors on Monday. That kind of thing happens as you get older, and I guess you just have to move with no fear. But my thoughts, and those of this blog, are with him every inch of the way. Hang tough bubba; we got a lot of football and sports in general to trash over.

Raining On The West Memphis Parade: Fundamental Fairness Denied

The West Memphis 3 are free!! Yea!

Three men convicted in the 1993 murders of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, were ordered released after entering new pleas following a court hearing, prosecutor Scott Ellington said Friday.

Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 18 years in prison with credit for time served, a prosecutor said. They were to be released on Friday.

The three entered what is known as an Alford plea, which allows a defendant to maintain innocence while simultaneously acknowledging that the state has evidence to convict, Ellington said.

Cause for celebration, right?

Not here; I feel nothing but sweet sorrow because, while Damien Echols (who had actually been on death row most all of the intervening time), Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin are free, a solid little chunk of the American justice system, due process and fundamental fairness was sacrificed in the process.

Let one of the three, Mr. Baldwin, speak for himself and me here:

This was NOT justice. I did not want to take this deal, but they were going to kill Damien an I couldn’t let that happen.

And therein lies the huge rub. The facts had never been particularly solid against these three once young men. They were brow beaten by avaricious prosecutors, sought to be lynched by a southern community ginned up on fear, horror and emotion and poorly served by their attorneys at the original trial level. In short, every facet of the American system of due process was compromised and tainted, and they have sat convicted, one on death row, ever since as a result.

Thanks to a litany of friends, motivated activist celebrities like Johnnie Depp, Natalie Maines and Eddie Vedder, and documentary filmmakers the cause of the West Memphis Three has never died. And, in fact, I would love to say that all that sweat, love and belief was vindicated today. But, sadly, that is simply not the case.

Yes, it is good, and truly heartwarming, to see “The Three” in sunshine. That said, justice and the rule of law are a little more dead for the effort if they are truly innocent. And the facts, including the key absence, indeed exclusion, of DNA evidence, now known – almost unequivocally – militate to a conclusion of innocence. While people should be happy, no thrilled, they are out of custody, I cannot believe there is not concurrent shrieking at the highest levels as to how exactly that has transpired.

Let’s be honest, no prosecutor in his right mind walks these three men out the front door of the courthouse if he truly believes they are guilty and there is even the slightest chance in hell he can make the charges stand up in a retrial. And no prosecutor lets them do it through Alford pleas. I do not care what kind of happy pablum they spew to the television cameras and press, it is really just that simple.

So, what we have here is nothing but a reaffirmation, ratification and craven ass covering of the original miscarriage of justice that railroaded the West Memphis Three. There will be no words of commendation here for the prosecutors, nor for Judge David Laser for giving the court’s imprimatur of propriety to this; in fact, they should all be questioned as to their ethics and morals.

This is nothing short of Mike Nifong making the Duke lacrosse players take misdemeanor pleas and register as sex offenders in order to save his precious reputation and job, and stop civil damage suits. Nifong did not get away with such depravity in Durham, and the prosecutors in Jonesboro Arkansas should not either.

Somewhere a gold lady with a set of scales weeps because another pint of her lifeblood has been spilled in Jonesboro Arkansas in the name of prosecutorial malice, vanity and civil damage mitigation. So many people have put their souls into this case, but the work is not over and the job not done yet. Because until the names of Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin are cleared in full, due process has been denied and fundamental fairness refused.