February 2009 Case Update
February 2009 Case Update
It has been awhile since a case update has been provided as there hasn’t been much progress in Michael Lambrix’s case. In October 2007 the lower court, Judge R. Thomas Corbin presiding, issued a “final order” denying Lambrix’s “post conviction appeal” that raised the substantial wealth of newly discovered evidence detailed in the main text of the website.
Judge Corbin’s order denying relief had numerous substantial, obvious errors of both fact and law that would be fully addressed in an appeal directly to the Florida Supreme Court. But before the actual appeal could be filed with the court and heard on its merits, the “record on appeal” would first have to be prepared. This, itself, has proven to be a time consuming process and it wasn’t until late June 2008 that the full record on appeal was completed.
In early August 2008 the Florida Supreme Court issued an order directing that Lambrix’s appointed counsel file the “initial brief” no later than October 29, 2008. The state was instructed to file their “answer brief” within 90 days of Lambrix’s “initial brief” being filed, and then Lambrix’s counsel could file a “reply brief” within 45 days of the state filing their “answer brief.”
The Florida Supreme Court docket shows that Lambrix filed a “pro se” (on his own) “notice regarding concern’s of appointed counsel’s failure to provide competent representation” on October 13, 2008. That was exactly two weeks before the court ordered deadline for filing the “initial brief.” In this “notice,” Lambrix advised the Court that appointed counsel still had not provided him with a working draft of the intended appeal brief and that he (Lambrix) was concerned that appointed counsel would not provide the court with the ordered “initial brief” by the October 27, 2008 filing deadline.
However, on October 28, 2008 (actually missing the court ordered deadline by one day) appointed counsel William Kin Hennis of the state funded Capital Collateral Regional Counsel’s Office, did file Lambrix’s “initial brief” in which five (5) specific claims were fully pled, collectively raising and arguing the substantial wealth of newly discovered evidence originally raised in the lower state court.
In reading this “initial brief” the collective strength of Lambrix’s claim of innocence becomes obvious. To specifically quote from the “initial brief,” that summarizes Lambrix’s case in a preliminary “introduction”
“For more than two decades Cary Michael Lambrix has argued that he is innocent of the charges against him. The case against him was wholly circumstantial. There were no eyewitnesses, no forensic or physical evidence, and no confession to support the state case… A review by this court of all the collective weight if all the new evidence will support a finding upon this court’s de novo review that the state’s theory of alleged premeditated murder was fabricated with the intent to wrongfully convict Mr. Lambrix. Mr. Lambrix’s case is a legitimate actual innocence case.”
This recently filed “initial brief” graphically describes just how the state if Florida used one “key witness” to convict and condemn Mr. Lambrix to death – and how the evidence now shows that this key witness – by her own sworn admission – was actually having a relationship of a “sexual nature” with the local state attorney’s own lead investigator (Miles Robert “bob” Daniels), the very person who had sworn out the initial arrest warrant for Lambrix’s arrest (based solely on key witness Francis Smith’s claims) and then subsequently personally developed the wholly circumstantial evidence used to convict and condemn Lambrix.
This “initial brief” should be read in it’s entirety as only then can the reader see how this collective wealth of evidence comes together to expose virtually all of the evidence used to convict and condemn Lambrix as being false, and even deliberately fabricated.
This collective evidence also leaves no doubt that the local state attorney’s office knowingly participated in a conspiracy and collaboration to wrongfully convict and condemn Lambrix. (See, “initial brief, argument III, pages 57 – 70), and how when Lambrix attempted to provide an overwhelming wealth of evidence to support this allegation of a deliberate conspiracy and collaboration to wrongfully convict and condemn him, the lower court refused to allow Mr. Lambrix any opportunity to present this evidence to the court.
Reading this “initial brief” leaves no question that Lambrix’s capital case presents one of the most extreme “southern injustices” conceivable. Not even Hollywood could have conceived a tale of injustice to match this true life case.
However as has been so often the case, shortly after the “initial brief” was filed it was discovered that Lambrix’s appointed counsel, William Hennis, had failed to fully argue the specific allegations of violations of federal law in the “initial brief.” Although this deficiency does not compromise the credibility of the facts pled, it has created a procedural problem.
By established law, a state prisoner must specifically cite to and argue any alleged violations of federal rights in the state court in order to “exhaust” state remedies prior to attempting to pursue a federal “habeas” appeal. If the federal violations are not specifically cited and argued in Lambrix’s state appeal, and the Florida Supreme Court denies relief, then this failure to adequately present the alleged violations of federal laws in the state court would automatically “procedurally bar” Lambrix from pursuing any subsequent federal review.
Confronted with this failure by appointed counsel, Lambrix has been compelled to file a pro se “Motion to Strike Fatally Defective Appeal Brief with Renewed Motion to Discharge Incompetent Post Conviction Counsel, and Waiver if Further Post Conviction Representation, with Request for Leave to File Corrected Appeal Brief.”
This pro se motion (click here to pull up motion) was filed with the Florida Supreme Court on January 13, 2009 and remains pending before the court as of this writing. It should be noted that because of judicially created court rule (Logan v. State, 846 So2d 472 (Fla. 2003) the only way Lambrix can correct the deficiency in the initial brief is to first have appointed counsel discharged as the court will not allow pro se supplemental, or amended/corrected briefs filed by any pro se prisoner if they are represented by legal counsel. Thus, if appointed counsel does not provide reasonably competent representation, the death sentenced prisoner must firth waive any further statutorily created right to legal counsel, and exercise “self representation” to correct the errors made by appointed counsel.
This is the epitome of judicial insanity. However, Lambrix has proven his ability to take on the judicial process when necessary to protect his interests, even if the Courts own hostility too often compels the Court to disingenuously circumvent addressing problems that compromise a full and fair review.
As the record shows, after realizing that appointed counsel had failed to fully protect his appellate interests, not only did Lambrix immediately move to correct the inexcusable deficiency, but Lambrix also immediately moved to correct the inexcusable deficiency, but Lambrix also personally prepared and filed a comprehensive “Petition for Declaratory Judgment and/or Petition for Exercise of All-Writs Power” in which Lambrix argued that the State of Florida has effectively established an unconstitutional “policy and practice” of systematically appointing statutorily unqualified and objectively incompetent lawyers to represent death-sentenced prisoners in their post conviction appeals with the predictable result of having the post conviction appeals being “procedurally barred” when such appointed counsel fails to adequately, or timely, raise the claims necessary.
In this comprehensive “Petition” (See, Petition for Declaratory Judgment ), Lambrix argues that by failing to establish any means to protect against the incompetency of appointed post conviction counsel, Florida death sentenced prisoners are being systematically deprived of their protected constitutional rights to meaningful post conviction review of their capital convictions and sentences of death.
Lambrix argues that this state sanctioned systematic policy and practice of effectively denying meaningful post conviction review render’s Florida’s death penalty process in itself unconstitutionally “arbitrary and capricious.” As without meaningful post conviction review, the Courts cannot determine whether a death sentenced prisoner is actually guilty of the alleged capital crime, or if guilty; whether the prisoner truly falls into the “narrow category” of cases in which a sentence of death is appropriate.
This “Petition for Declaratory Judgment” raises a significant constitutional question that goes to the very heart if whether Florida’s death penalty process itself is “fundamentally unfair.” This petition is well written, and supported by both applicable facts and law. It will be interesting to see how the Florida Supreme Court will now attempt to circumvent review of this properly filed petition – and there’s no question that the Florida Supreme Court will attempt to sidestep addressing this petition.
Finally, yet another substantial development has recently come to light. Several months ago an associate of “Southern Injustice” was conducting an investigation into public state records in Lambrix’s case, and requested copies of records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) crime lab. Upon receiving these “public records” this freelance investigator realized that these documents indicated that the state did have possession of forensic evidence (specifically, a hair found on the alleged murder weapon) that did not match the hair of either of the two victims in this case.
Further review of these records show that the alleged murder weapon introduced at trial apparently was itself a fabrication. This investigator diligently contacted both Lambrix’s own legal counsel as well as attorneys representing the state, and even the FDLE crime lab technicians that originally processed this evidence.
Without going into details that might compromise Lambrix’s ability to present this additional new evidence to the courts, collectively this newly discovered evidence now leaves no doubt that the State Attorney’s Office deliberately fabricated the alleged murder weapon they presented to the jury at trial.
Legally, these documents and records show that the state deliberately concealed exculpatory evidence from Lambrix and knowingly presented false material evidence to the jury that directly contributed to Lambrix’s wrongful convictions.
The question is why wasn’t this crucial evidence of deliberate fabrication and perjured testimony discovered long ago? That is where this most recent discovery gets even more interesting – even if the local state attorney deliberately concealed this exculpatory evidence from Lambrix’s trial counsel it should have been discovered when Lambrix pursued his original post conviction appeal in 1987-89.
This is where it gets really interesting – when Lambrix’s original post conviction lawyers did file a request for the FDLE records in 1987 the state did provide a copy. But the records provided were censored, with some documents deliberately withheld and others doctored to conceal information.
At that time the lawyer (Assistant Attorney General) then representing the state and controlling the disclosure of these records was Peggy Quince, who is now the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court. Lambrix must now file a new state post conviction appeal in which specific allegations of prosecutorial misconduct will be made against both the original prosecutor Randall Mc Gruther (see, article “Anatomy of a Corrupt Prosecutor”) and against now Chief Justice Peggy Quince.
That means that Chief Justice Peggy Quince will be compelled to be a witness when a hearing is provided on these allegations – or will the courts find a way to protect Chief Justice Quince by refusing to allow Lambrix’s claims to be heard?
In his most recent filing in the Florida Supreme Court, Lambrix has moved to now disqualify the entire Florida Supreme Court from presiding over his case, claiming that the supported allegations of misconduct by Chief Justice Quince would make it impossible to get a fair hearing before the Florida Supreme Court. Although Lambrix is now forced to represent himself, this “Motion to Disqualify Florida Supreme Court, et al” is legally sound – but will the Court grant the motion? (Read the Motion here)
This is why Southern Injustice has focused on Lambrix’s capital case. Anyone reading the actual court records and appellate actions can see that this case represents one of the extreme injustices conceivable and that this injustice has been deliberately perpetuated by agents if the state and that’s who are now at the highest level of the state judiciary. This case represents just how deeply enrooted such an injustice is – but this case is still only one of many and perhaps that itself is what should compel all of us to question whether “justice” can ever be provided when the corruption of justice extends to the highest levels of the judiciary itself.