Clarence Earl Gideon

Clarence Earl Gideon

Difficult start


Clarence Earl Gideon was born in Hannibal, Missouri on August 30, 1910. His father died when Clarence was three. His mother remarried, but Clarence and his step father did not get along.


When he was 14, Clarence ran away for a year.


Back in Missouri, but not with his mother, he stole clothes, got caught, and his mother asked to have him put into a reformatory.


He was released after a year and had the scars to prove the mistreatment he received there.


Clarence Earl Gideon

Continued hard times

Gideon married and got a job in a shoe factory.  He lost his job and after committing a number of crimes in Missouri was sentenced to ten years for robbery.


He was paroled but continued to run afoul the law.  According to an article in the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, “In 1934, he was convicted of theft of U.S. government property and conspiracy and sentenced to three years in Fort Leavenworth, where he was assigned to the shoe factory. In 1939, he was arrested on an unknown charge and again escaped from jail before trial. In 1940, he was convicted of burglary and larceny and sentenced as a repeat offender. In 1943, he escaped from prison and went to work on the Southern Pacific Railroad as a brakeman, using an assumed name and forged Selective Service card. The following year he was arrested on a tip, convicted of escape, and imprisoned until January 1950. In 1951, he was convicted of an unspecified crime in Texas and served 13 months.”


Clarence Earl Gideon

Bay Harbor Pool RoomClarence Earl Gideon


Gideon moved to Florida. On June 3, 1961, $5 in change and a few bottles of beer and soda were stolen from Bay Harbor Pool Room (Panama, FL), a pool hall that belonged to Ira Strickland, Jr.


Henry Cook, a 22-year-old resident who lived nearby, told the police that he had seen Clarence Earl Gideon walk out of the hall with a bottle of wine and his pockets filled with coins and then get into a cab and leave. Gideon was arrested in a tavern.


August 4, 1961:  being too poor to pay for counsel,  Gideon requested that the court appoint one.  Because of his extensive criminal record, he was familiar with that practice.


Robert McCrary, Jr, the trial judge, denied the request stating that in Florida a defendant was entitled to a court-appointed defense only in capital offense trials.


Though Gideon was mistaken is his assumption that he was entitled to a court-appointed lawyer, McCrary was also mistaken in that he could have, had he decided, appointed a lawyer.


Defending himself,  Gideon was tried and convicted of breaking and entering with intent to commit petty larceny.

Sentenced to 5 years

August 25, 1961: five days before his 51st birthday, McCrary sentenced Gideon to the maximum sentence: five years in prison.


Gideon appealed his conviction to the Florida Supreme Court. That court denied his appeal.

Supreme Court petition

Clarence Earl Gideon
This is the first page of Gideon’s handwritten petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gideon mailed a five-page hand-printed petition to the US Supreme Court asking the nine justices to consider his complaint.


It is often discussed whether, despite his familiarity with the justice system, Gideon could have written the petition himself.  Some have suggested that Gideon’s cellmate, Joseph A. Peel Jr, a lawyer and judge serving time for murder, had assisted Gideon.


January 5, 1962:  Whatever the circumstances, the Supreme Court, in reply, agreed to hear his appeal. Originally, the case was called Gideon v. Cochran.


January 15,  1963:  the Gideon v. Cochran case was argued at the US Supreme Court. Abe Fortas was assigned to represent Gideon. Bruce Jacob, the Assistant Florida Attorney General, was assigned to argue against Gideon.


Fortas argued (a recording of Fortas’s argument can be heard via the Oyez site)  that a common man with no training in law could not go up against a trained lawyer and win, and that “you cannot have a fair trial without counsel.”


Jacob argued that the issue at hand was a state issue, not federal; the practice of only appointing counsel under “special circumstances” in non-capital cases sufficed; that thousands of convictions would have to be thrown out if it were changed; and that Florida had followed for 21 years “in good faith” the 1942 Supreme Court ruling in Betts v. Brady.


The case’s original title, Gideon v. Cochran, was changed to Gideon v. Wainwright after Louie L. Wainwright replaced H. G. Cochran as the director of the Florida Division of Corrections. (NYT abstract)


Clarence Earl Gideon

Supreme court  decision

March 18, 1963: the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled that, The Sixth Amendment right to counsel is a fundamental right applied to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause, and requires that indigent criminal defendants be provided counsel at trial. Supreme Court of Florida reversed.


In other words, the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled that those accused of a crime have a constitutional right to a lawyer whether or not they can afford one.


About 2,000 convicted people in Florida alone were freed as a result of the Gideon decision; Gideon himself was not freed. He instead got another trial. (NYT article)

Clarence Earl Gideon

Gideon’s retrial

August 5, 1963: Gideon had chosen W. Fred Turner to be his lawyer for his second trial. Turner picked apart the testimony of eyewitness Henry Cook. Turner also got a statement from the cab driver who took Gideon from Bay Harbor, Florida to a bar in Panama City, Florida, stating that Gideon was carrying neither wine, beer nor Coke when he picked him up, even though Cook had testified that he watched Gideon walk from the pool hall to the phone, then wait for a cab.


Furthermore, although in the first trial Gideon had not cross-examined the cab driver about his statement that Gideon had told him to keep the taxi ride a secret, Turner’s cross-examination revealed that Gideon had said that to the cab driver previously because “he had trouble with his wife.”


The jury acquitted Gideon after one hour of deliberation.

Clarence Earl Gideon

Attorney General Robert Kennedy


November 1, 1963: in a speech before The New England Conference on the Defense of Indigent Persons Accused of Crime, Attorney General Robert Kennedy stated: “If an obscure Florida convict named Clarence Earl Gideon had not sat down in prison with a pencil and paper to write a letter to the Supreme Court, and if the Supreme Court had not taken the trouble to look for merit in that one crude petition among all the bundles of mail it must receive every day, the vast machinery of American law would have gone on functioning undisturbed.”

Gideon’s Trumpet

Clarence Earl Gideon


January 28, 1964,: the publication of Gideon’s Trumpet by Anthony Lewis. The book provided history of Gideon’s landmark case.

Clarence Earl Gideon

Aftermath


January 18, 1972: after his acquittal, Gideon resumed his previous way of life and married again. He died of cancer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at age 61. Gideon’s family in Missouri accepted his body and buried him in an unmarked grave.


Clarence Earl Gideon

April 30, 1980: made for TV movie and a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation, Gideon’s Trumpet, aired on CBS. The moved starred Henry Fonda as Clarence Earl Gideon, José Ferrer as Abe Fortas and John Houseman as Earl Warren (though Warren’s name was never mentioned in the film; he was billed simply as “The Chief Justice”). Houseman also provided the off screen closing narration at the end of the film. Lewis himself appeared in a small role as “The Reporter”.


Clarence Earl Gideon


November 1984 The local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union added a granite headstone, inscribed with a quote from a letter Gideon wrote to his attorney, Abe Fortas: “I believe that each era finds an improvement in law for the benefit of mankind.”

Clarence Earl Gideon

Law v reality


March 16, 2013: approaching the 50th anniversary of  Gideon v. Wainwright, a NYT article stated, the Legal Services Corporation, the Congressionally financed organization that provides lawyers to the poor in civil matters, says there are more than 60 million Americans — 35 percent more than in 2005 — who qualify for its services. But it calculates that 80 percent of the legal needs of the poor go unmet. In state after state, according to a survey of trial judges, more people are now representing themselves in court and they are failing to present necessary evidence, committing procedural errors and poorly examining witnesses, all while new lawyers remain unemployed… According to the World Justice Project, a nonprofit group promoting the rule of law that got its start through the American Bar Association, the United States ranks 66th out of 98 countries in access to and affordability of civil legal services.


Clarence Earl Gideon
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Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí

Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí

Colonized v Colonizers


I suppose there are examples of colonists who preferred colonization to their former independence, but human history is filled with examples of the opposite. That is, the colonized attempting to overthrow the colonizers.


Americans’ most important date is July 4, the date that commemorates their Declaration of Independence.


Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí

 Pope Adrian IV

Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí


More than 750 years after the English-born Roman arrived in Ireland to convert it to Christianity, Pope Adrian issued a papal Bull known as the  “Laudabiliter” in 1156. Think of an American president’s Executive Order,  only more powerful.


The Bull gave Henry II, king of England  the Pope’s permission to invade Ireland “for the correction of morals and the introduction of virtues, for the advancement of the Christian religion.”


The Bull also stated “And may the people of that land receive thee with honor, and venerate thee as their master.


Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí

And so it began…

Over the next 800 years there were regular attempts by the colonized Irish to regain independence. These attempts sometimes partially succeeded, but were more often repulsed.


By the mid-1920s, the Island of Ireland was in two parts: a Republic and Northern Ireland, a province of the United Kingdom.


Despite the success of independence in the south, there were still many in Northern Ireland who continued to support a united Ireland.


Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí

1964

There is no exact or official date for the start of the Troubles, but by 1964 civil rights activists had been protesting against the discrimination against Catholics and Irish nationalists by the Ulster Protestant and unionist government of Northern Ireland.


Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí

Bogside Massacre

Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí


This piece will begin on January 30, 1972: in Derry (Londonderry) Northern Ireland, British paratroopers responded to a civil rights march by Catholics, in defiance of a ban against marches, and shot dead thirteen unarmed marchers. The day became known as “Bloody Sunday” or the “Bogside Massacre.”


February 2, 1972:  Prime Minister Edward Heath commissions the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Widgery to undertake a tribunal into the Jan 30 shootings in Derry.



July 21, 1972:  Bloody Friday: 22 bombs planted by the Provisional IRA explode in Belfast, Northern Ireland; nine people are killed and 130 seriously injured.


Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí

late 1970s

January 4, 1976:the Ulster Volunteer Force kills six Irish Catholic civilians in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. The next day 10 Protestant civilians are murdered in retaliation.


Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí


August 27, 1979: Lord Mountbatten of Burma and 3 others were assassinated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army. Mountbatten was a British admiral, statesman and an uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. On the same day, the Warrenpoint ambush occurs: Provisional Irish Republican Army members attack a British convoy at Narrow Water, County Down, killing 18 British soldiers.


November 23, 1979: in Dublin, Ireland, Provisional Irish Republican Army member Thomas McMahon was sentenced to life in prison for the assassination of Lord Mountbatten of Burma.



Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí

Hunger Strikes

Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí

March 1, 1981: Bobby Sands, a Provisional Irish Republican Army member, began a hunger strike for political status in Long Kesh prison.


March 3, 1981: Humphrey Atkins, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, made a statement in the House of Commons in which he said that there would be no political status for prisoners regardless of the hunger strike.


March 15, 1981: Francis Hughes, an Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner in the Maze Prison, joined Bobby Sands on hunger strike. 



March 22, 1981: Raymond McCreesh, an Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner in the Maze Prison, and Patsy O’Hara, then leader of Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) prisoners in the Maze, joined the hunger strike.


April 10, 1981:imprisoned IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands won election to the British Parliament.


April 28, 1981: the private secretary of Pope John Paul II paid a visit to Bobby Sands in the Maze Prison but was unable to persuade him to end his hunger strike. Humphrey Atkins, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, stated that: “If Mr Sands persisted in his wish to commit suicide, that was his choice. The government would not force medical treatment upon him.” President Ronald Reagan said that America would not intervene in the situation in Northern Ireland but he was “deeply concerned” at events there. 


May 5, 1981: Bobby Sands, died aged 27.


May 6, 1981: the day after Bobby Sands’ death, the British government sent 600 extra British troops into Northern Ireland.


Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí


May 7, 1981: An estimated 100,000 people attended the funeral of Bobby Sands in Belfast.


May 8, 1981: Joe McDonnell, then an Irish Republican Army prisoner in the Maze Prison, joined the hunger strike to take the place of Bobby Sands.


May 12, 1981: after 59 days on hunger strike Francis Hughes (25), an Irish Republican Army  prisoner in the Maze Prison, died. [Hughes’ death led to a further surge in rioting in Nationalist areas of Northern Ireland, particularly in Belfast and Derry. In Dublin a group of 2,000 people tried to break into the British Embassy. 


May 14, 1981: Brendan McLaughlin, an Irish Republican Army prisoner in the Maze Prison, joined the hunger strike to replace Francis Hughes [McLaughlin was taken off the strike on 26 May when he suffered a perforated ulcer and internal bleeding.] 


May 21 1981:  Raymond McCreesh (24), a Irish Republican Army prisoner, and Patsy O’Hara (23), an Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) prisoner, both died having spent 61 days on hunger strike. 


May 22, 1981: Kieran Doherty, an Irish Republican Army prisoner in the Maze Prison, joined the hunger strike. 


May 29, 1981: the names of four prisoners on hunger strike together with five other Republican prisoners, were put forward as candidates in the forthcoming general election in the Republic of Ireland.


June 8, 1981: Tom McElwee, then an Irish Republican Army prisoner, joined the hunger strike.


June 15, 1981: Sinn Féin issued a statement to say that a Republican prisoner would join the hunger strike every week. [This was seen as a stepping-up of the hunger strike. Paddy Quinn, then an Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner joined the strike.]


July 8, 1981: Irish Republican Joe McDonnell died at the Long Kesh Internment Camp after a 61-day hunger strike.


July 10. 1981: funeral for Joe McDonnell. The British Army moved to arrest an IRA firing party at the funeral and seized a number of weapons and made several arrests. Rioting broke out following this incident.


July 13, 1981: Martin Hurson (29) died after 46 days on hunger strike.


August 1, 1981: The seventh hunger striker died. Kevin Lynch (25) died after 71 days on hunger strike. Lynch was a member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA).

August 2, 1981: the eighth hunger striker died. Kieran Doherty (25) died after 73 days on hunger strike.


August 8, 1981:  ninth hunger striker dies. Thomas McElwee (23) died after 62 days on hunger strike. This weekend marked the tenth Anniversary of the introduction of Internment and there were widespread riots in Republican areas. Three people were killed during disturbances over the weekend.


August 9, 1981: Liam Canning (19), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a covername used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), as he walked along Alliance Avenue, Ardoyne, Belfast. Peter Maguinness (41), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by a plastic bullet fired by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) while he was outside his home on the Shore Road, Greencastle, Belfast. There were continuing riots in Nationalist areas of Northern Ireland.


August 20, 1981: tenth hunger striker dies. Michael Devine (27) died after 60 days on hunger strike.


Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí


October 3, 1981: those Republican prisoners who had still been refusing food decided to end their hunger strike. At this stage in the protest six prisoners were on hunger strike. The prisoners took their decision when it became clear that each of their families would ask for medical intervention to save their lives. 


October 6, 1981:  Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Prior, announced a number of changes in prison policy, one of which would allowed prisoners to wear their civilian clothes at all times. This was one of the five key demands that had been made at the start of the hunger strike. Prior also announced other changes: free association would be allowed in neighboring wings of each H-Block, in the exercise areas and in recreation rooms; an increase in the number of visits each prisoner would be entitled to.


Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí

Continued bombings

Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí


July 20, 1982: the Provisional IRA detonated 2 bombs in central London, killing 8 soldiers, wounding 47 people.


September 25, 1983: Maze Prison escape: 38 Irish republican prisoners, armed with six handguns, hijack a prison meals lorry and smash their way out of HMP Maze, in the largest prison escape since World War II and in British history.


December 17, 1983:  a Provisional IRA car bomb killed 6 Christmas shoppers and injured 90 outside Harrods in London.



October 12, 1984:  The Provisional Irish Republican Army attempts to assassinate Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the British Cabinet in the Brighton hotel bombing.


February 28, 1985: the Provisional Irish Republican Army carried out a mortar attack on the Royal Ulster Constabulary police station at Newry, killing 9 officers in the highest loss of life for the RUC on a single day.


November 15, 1985:  Britain and Ireland signed an accord giving Dublin an official consultative role in governing Northern Ireland.


November 8, 1987: a bomb planted by the Irish Republican Army exploded as crowds gathered in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, for a ceremony honoring Britain’s war dead, killing 11 people.


March 16, 1988: Milltown Cemetery attack: during a funeral for three Provisional IRA volunteers, Ulster Defence Association (UDA) volunteer Michael Stone attacked the crowd with grenades and pistols, killing three and wounding over sixty.


March 19, 1988: two British Army Corporals were killed after driving straight into a funeral for the victims of the Milltown Cemetery attack three days earlier, after they were mistakenly thought to be carrying out a similar attack to the one by Ulster Defence Association (UDA) member Michael Stone, in which he killed three Catholics attending the funeral.


September 22, 1989: Deal barracks bombing: An IRA bomb explodes at the Royal Marine School of Music in Deal, Kent, United Kingdom, leaving 11 dead and 22 injured.


April 10, 1992: a Provisional Irish Republican Army bomb exploded in the Baltic Exchange in the City of London; 3 are killed, 91 injured.


December 15, 1993: the Downing Street Declaration, issued jointly by UK and the Republic of Ireland, affirms the UK would transfer Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland only if a majority of Northern Ireland’s people approved.


“Zombie” is a protest song by  written about the 1993 IRA bombing in Warrington, and in memory of two young victims, Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry.

August 31, 1994: the Provisional Irish Republican Army announced a “complete cessation of military operations.” (from February 1996 until July 1997, the Provisional IRA called off its 1994 ceasefire because of its dissatisfaction with the state of negotiations.)


February 18, 1996: an IRA briefcase bomb in a bus kills the bomber and injures 9 in the West End of London.


Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí

Another ceasfire

July 19, 1997: the Provisional IRA re-instated the ceasefire.


September 9, 1997: Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican Army’s political ally, formally renounced violence as it took its place in talks on Northern Ireland’s future.


Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí


In November 1997, IRA dissidents held a meeting in a farmhouse in Oldcastle, County Meath, and a new organisation, styling itself Óglaigh na hÉireann, was formed. It eventually became known as the Real IRA.


December 11, 1997: Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams became the first political ally of the IRA to meet a British leader in 76 years. He conferred with Prime Minister Tony Blair in London.


In January 1998 :after 15 years and many media reports suggesting the original tribunal’s inquiry was flawed, a second commission of inquiry, chaired by Lord Saville, was established  to re-examine ‘Bloody Sunday’.


Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí

Belfast Agreement

Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí

April 10, 1998: the Belfast Agreement signed between the Irish and British governments and most Northern Ireland political parties.


May 22, 1998:voters in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland cast ballots giving resounding approval to a Northern Ireland peace accord.


Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí

October 16, 1998: David Trimble and John Hume were named recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize for brokering the Northern Ireland peace accord.


November 29, 1999: Protestant and Catholic adversaries formed a Northern Ireland government.


December 2, 1999:a power-sharing cabinet of Protestants and Catholics sat down together for the first time in Northern Ireland.



July 28, 2005: the Provisional IRA issued a statement formally ordering an end to the armed campaign it has pursued since 1969 and ordering all its units to dump their arms.


September 25, 2005: two months after announcing its intention to disarm, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) gave up its weapons in front of independent weapons inspectors. The decommissioning of the group s substantial arsenal took place in secret locations in the Republic of Ireland. One Protestant and one Catholic priest as well as officials from Finland and the United States served as witnesses to the historic event. Automatic weapons, ammunition, missiles and explosives were among the arms found in the cache, which the head weapons inspector described as “enormous.”


Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí

21st Century Simmering

Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí

June 15, 2010:  the report on the second inquiry into Sunday Bloody Sunday (1972) is published. It stated, “The firing by soldiers of 1 PARA on Bloody Sunday caused the deaths of 13 people and injury to a similar number, none of whom was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury,” and also said, “The immediate responsibility for the deaths and injuries on Bloody Sunday lies with those members of Support Company whose unjustifiable firing was the cause of those deaths and injuries.”  The head of the committee, Lord Saville of Newdigate, stated that British paratroopers “lost control.”


A series of riots between 20 June 2011 and 16 July 2011, starting originally in Belfast, before spreading to other parts of Northern Ireland. They were initiated by the Ulster Volunteer Force.


1 November 2012  prison Officer, David Black, was shot dead on the M1 motorway near Craigavon while driving to work. The shots were fired from another car, which drove alongside. The Real IRA claimed responsibility.


March 4, 2016,  prison officer Adrian Ismay died from a heart attack in a hospital. He had been seriously wounded by a booby-trap bomb which detonated under his van on Hillsborough Drive, East Belfast 11 days earlier. These wounds were directly responsible for the heart attack that killed him. The “New IRA” claimed responsibility and said it was a response to the alleged mistreatment of republican prisoners at Maghaberry Prison. It added that the officer was targeted because he trained prison officers at Maghaberry.

Irish Troubles Na Trioblóidí

 

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Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez


Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

March 16, 1983 – July 14, 2008

Luis Ramirez had came to the U.S. from Mexico in 2002 when he was 19 to look for work. He settled in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania about 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia where other Mexicans had found field and factory work.


Ramirez found steady employment, fathered two children and, occasionally endured harassment by long-time white residents.


Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Shenandoah, PA


On July 12, 2008, a group of Shenandoah Valley High School Blue Devils  football players beat Luis Ramirez. 


Shenandoah Borough Manager Joseph Palubinsky said he did not believe Ramirez’s ethnicity was what prompted the fight: “I have reason to know the kids who were involved, the families who were involved, and I’ve never known them to harbor this type of feeling.”


Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez


On July 14, Ramirez died from head injuries.


Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Arrests


Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez
Derrick Donchak, Brandon Piekarsky,and Colin Walsh,

On July 25 police arrested Brandon Piekarsky, 19, and Colin Walsh, 17, both white.  


The attack drew condemnation from immigrants’ rights groups, who  held vigils in Shenandoah.


The Justice Department opened an investigation into the case.


August 19, 2008: State Judge Anthony Kilker ruled that prosecutors had enough evidence to try Walsh and Piekarsky on charges of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation. Donchak was ordered to stand trial on aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation and other counts.


August 26, 2008:  bail was set at $50,000 each for Piekarsky and Walsh. They had been held without bail since their arrests on July 25.


A third defendant, Derrick Donchak was charged with aggravated assault and other offenses. He posted bail soon after his arrest. (NYT article)


November 27, 2008:  Judge, William Baldwin of Schuylkill County, ruled that charges of third-degree murder against Piekarsky and Walsh were warranted. Baldwin also let stand the aggravated-assault count against  Donchak, but dismissed a hindering-apprehension charge against him.


The three were also charged with ethnic intimidation because the authorities say the attack on Ramirez was racially motivated. (NYT article)

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Walsh Guilty plea


April 8, 2009, : Colin Walsh pleaded guilty to one felony violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act for his role in aiding and abetting Piekarsky and  Donchak in the beating death. 


April 21, 2009: local charges were dropped against Walsh because he had entered the guilty plea to charges in federal court. (NYT article)

April 28, 2009: Walsh testified against Piekarsky and Donchak. When asked on the witness stand, Walsh said that his federal deal called for nine years in federal prison, but that he could be out in four because of his cooperation. (NYT article)

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

All-white jury

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez


May 2, 2009:  an all-white jury acquitted Piekarsky  of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation, and Derrick Donchak of aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation.


Both were convicted of simple assault.


Prosecutors had described Luis Ramirez as the victim of a gang of drunken white teenagers motivated by their dislike of their small coal town’s burgeoning Hispanic population.


Defense lawyers called Ramirez the aggressor and accused the district attorney’s office of twisting the facts. (NYT article)


Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Following PA trial


A May 16, 2009 NYT article described several incidents in Shanandoah following the trial.  Several white students threatened Felix Bermejo that he was next.  The car of Eileen Burke was egged. Burke, a former Philadelphia police officer, had said she believed that local police had mishandled the case. A fight broke out between a white group and a mixed black and Latino group.

June 19, 2009: Judge William Baldwin of Schuylkill County sentenced each sentenced Piekarsky and Donchakto at least six months behind bars.  Baldwin said that the sentences exceeded the usual sentencing guidelines but that they reflected the “absolute brutality and viciousness” of the attack on Ramirez. Baldwin also said he could not consider the racial overtones of the case and the fact that Ramirez died. (NYT article)


Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Federal government steps in


December 15, 2009: federal prosecutors charged Police Chief Matthew Nestor, Lt. William Moyer and Officer Jason Hayes with obstruction of justice in connection with their handling of the investigation of the beating death of Ramirez.

Piekarsky and Donchakto were indicted on federal hate crime charges.


The officers were called to the scene of the beating on the night, but prosecutors alleged they were closely linked to the boys: Hayes was in a relationship with Piekarsky’s mother who was also a good friend of Nestor, while Moyer’s son played in the football team with the students. (NYT article)


The officers were alleged to have let the students go, even given them lifts in a police car away from the crime scene. They then encouraged them to “get their story straight” and tampered with evidence to make their detection more difficult. (Guardian article)


December 22, 2009: in federal court, Piekarsky and Derrick Piekarsky and Donchak were arraigned in Wilkes-Barre, PA, charged with hate crimes. They  pleaded not guilty. (NYT article)


Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Convictions

October 14, 2010: the federal jury in Scranton, PA convicted Donchak and Piekarsky of a hate crime arising out of the fatal beating of Ramirez.


The jury found the defendants guilty of violating the criminal component of the federal Fair Housing Act, which makes it a crime to use a person’s race, national origin or ethnicity as a basis to interfere, with violence or threats of violence, with a person’s right to live where he chooses to live. 


A jury had previously acquitted both of murder charges in state court and convicted of simple assault.


“…people attacked one person because of his race and because they didn’t want people like him living in their town,” prosecutor Myesha K. Braden had said during her closing argument.

Witnesses had testified that racist language was used before and during the attack and that Ramirez was kicked in the head repeatedly after falling down. The defendants, they said, didn’t want immigrants in their neighborhood and repeatedly ordered Ramirez to leave.

Local authorities helped cover Local authorities helped cover up the incident. Braden said, “They hatched a plan to leave out the kick, to leave out the race and even to leave out the drinking.” (NYT article) (sentencing see February 27, 2011 below)


Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Police trial


Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez
Former Police Chief Matthew Nestor, Patroman Jason Hayes and Lt William Moyer

January 13, 2011, the trial of officers Nestor, Hayes, and Moyer on charges of obstructing justice in the beating death of Ramirez began. (NYT article)


January 27, 2011: a federal jury convicted Matthew Nestor, the  Shenandoah police chief at the time of the murder, of the most serious charge against him in what prosecutors said was a cover-up of the beating death of Ramirez.


The jury delivered a less severe verdict against a Moyer and acquitted a Hayes.


Authorities had accused the former officers, Matthew Nestor, Jason Hayes and William Moyer, of helping a group of the white teenagers cover up their parts in the beating death Ramírez.

Nestor was found guilty of falsifying records, a charge that could bring up to 20 years in prison, but he was acquitted of conspiracy. Moyer, a former Shenandoah lieutenant, was convicted of lying to the F.B.I., but acquitted of all other counts, including obstruction of justice, and he faced up to five years in prison. Hayes, a former patrolman, was acquitted of all charges. (NYT article)


Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Sentencing

February 27, 2011: a judge sentenced Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky to nine years in prison.  (CNN article)

June 1, 2011: Judge A. Richard Caputo of Federal District Court in Wilkes-Barre, Pa sentenced Nestor 13 months in prison–a lower-than-expected term.


Caputo  said the sentencing guidelines were too harsh for Nestor. A presentencing report by probation officials had recommended 57 to 71 months.


Caputo sentenced Moyer to three months. (PennLive article)


June 18, 2012:  a three-judge panel decided that Donchak and  Piekarsky must stay in federal prison for their hate-crime convictions.


In a 34-page opinion, the panel ruled there was no basis to overturn the convictions of either Donchak or Piekarsky.


“We therefore affirm the final conviction, judgment and sentence,” U.S. Circuit Judge Julio M. Fuentes wrote in the court’s opinion, which was joined by the other panel members, U.S. Chief Circuit Judge Theodore A. McKee and U.S. Circuit Judge Kent A. Jordan. (Republican Herald article)


Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Documentary


April 20, 2013: David Turnley’s documentary”Shenandoah” released.  A NYT article stated that, “Turnley spent four years burrowing into the lives of people on all sides of the story, whether the burly football players who participated in the attack, their parents who struggled to understand it, or Mr. Ramirez’s family both in Shenandoah and in Mexico.”



October 17, 2013: a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the federal hate-crime convictions of Donchak and Piekarsky.


Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

 

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