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By Richard Tully

Proposition 66 (Prop. 66) was touted to California voters to {a} speed up death row appeals, {b} compel condemned inmates to work, which would provide for {c} death row inmates paying the 70% restitution. All condemned must now be moved out of San Quentin (SQ), with us all sprinkled throughout the state prison system. Not all condemned have restitution. SQ’s condemned are in a Close Custody Unit where it is extremely difficult for condemned trade or hustle to circumvent paying the 70% imposed.

The path is wide open on a mainline with full access to thousands of non-condemned inmates to do business with at 30% paid to other inmates, or at no charge. For condemned that have private attorneys appointed due to conflict of interest regulations, the authors of Prop. 66 provided “no state funds have been approved and allocated to the appellate courts from which to pay counsel in appeals under” Prop. 66.

Accordingly, the “appeal is stayed until further notice” with that having brought my appeal, after 36+ years, to a complete stop, now having languished there for almost 2 years. Prop. 66 managed to do what deep-pocket developers have been trying to do since before I arrived: Move death row elsewhere so they can wrangle this prime real estate from the state. Stay tuned for how they will also get environmental waivers to dispose of the heavily polluted soil this prison sits on to lessen the cost of private development.

The proposition that implemented the three strikes law was presented to the voters as applying to acts of violence,  not 25-to-life for petty crimes or youthful indiscretions. This nation has had a war of various kinds on its own citizens for decades in one form or another, with the war on drugs a colossal failure while the models of success in the Netherlands and Germany are oddly ignored. Prosecutors have devolved into a win-any-cost culture creating lucrative careers for themselves by corrupting the judicial system from the inside.

I was arrested in 1987, had no prior criminal record, had 7 years of honorable service in the Marine Corps, and was charged with one homicide. While still in municipal court, the police placed a confidential informant (CI) in the transport with me. He testified at my preliminary examination but was “making it up” as he went along. The insertion of the CI was to remove my then-stellar defense attorney by triggering the previously mentioned conflict of interest clause as the CI was represented by the Public Defender’s Office prior to my arrest, having worked for law enforcement for quite some time without testifying.

This tactic is common throughout the state. The prosecuting attorney waited until a retired prosecutor from a neighboring county was ready to step in. This provided the removal of my excellent representation, swapped out with a nefariously corrupt man, Alfonse Wagner, joined by Spencer Strelllis for trial almost 6 years after my arrest which also gave the prosecutor an easy win. This feathers the retirement nest of retired prosecutors. Plus, it added income by pocketing expert witness funds the good public defender had obtained and cost me a crucial challenge of questionable evidence that my ineffective counsel “stipulated” to as acceptable. DNA evidence was thrown away by Wagner, and the prosecutor after testing excluded me and the victim without my knowledge of its existence until years later.

Convicted with a “Death Qualified” jury in 1992, the certification of the trial transcripts was constantly delayed by the prosecutor post-conviction, as he was continually absent from the hearings, and when he did show he would further put it off. In 2005 my direct appeal was submitted and promptly denied. Then it was sent to the N. District Court with habeas and was sent back to the state court to exhaust appellate issues that arose while my initial direct and habeas were in the state court with that put forth in August 2019. It was denied, even though my special allegations will not pass U.S. Constitutional muster per the federal judge that quoted the U.S. Supreme Court rulings of 2016 and 2019 to the state court.

Prosecutors have learned they can get away with this due to the state court winking and nodding its acquiescence for years. If the state high court would do the right thing numerous men and women could have been able to go before the parole board long ago, saving the state millions in funding and resources. The state is obligated to provide qualified representation. Because of the sentences imposed in March 2022, I found myself stranded on the porch of the N. District Court, unable to reenter because Prop. 66 has locked me out by refusing to fund appellate counsel. The same Prop. 66 is supposed to move our appeals along and stop the delays for jobs to pay our restitution while providing the very opportunities for that not to happen. For whom is all of this locking them up and throwing away the key working?

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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