Lambrix Case: You Be The Jury
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This is where You Be The Jury and all case related content will move
Welcome to a unique and unprecedented Internet experience. Have you ever watched “Law and Order” or “CSI” or “Matlock” or “Perry Mason” and wondered what it would be like to actually sit on the jury in a real murder case? To have the fate of the accused in your own hands as you consider the evidence, then you decide if he is innocent or guilty? And if you do find him guilty, then you decide whether he should be sentenced to death. Could you be the jury?
With capital punishment continuing to be a lightening rod of social and political debate, with so much of that debate seemingly focused on whether in our politically sensationalized “war on crime” overzealous prosecutors are convicting and condemning the innocent, just how much do we ~ the average person ~ really know about how a capital murder case is put to trial, and if the defendant is convicted and condemned to death, how our judicial system reviews the capital case to protect against the possible execution of the innocent?
You are now invited to personally participate in a unique experience… you are now invited to be a juror in an actual capital murder case in which the state has sought the death penalty against a possible innocent man.
You will be provided unprecedented access to virtually all of the evidence and the testimony that an actual jury heard before convicting and condemning a man to death in a case in which the defendant has consistently insisted that he is innocent of capital murder. The complete, unedited transcript of the actual trial, from jury selection through rendering of the verdict can now be read in its entirety. (See, “Trial Transcript.”) No evidence shall be suppressed as both sides will be fully presented.
Additionally, you will be provided unprecedented access to the complete, unedited post conviction appellate proceeding presently pending before the Florida Supreme Court. (See, “Appeal Briefs.”) Again, both sides (the State’s and the Defendant’s) will be fully provided as the capital defendant presents his pled claim of actual innocence to the Court. Through these appellate proceedings, you can examine for yourself the evidence that the jury was not allowed to hear ~ evidence that the state and its witnesses allegedly withheld that may have made all the difference ~ then you decide whether justice was served, or did the state deliberately convict and condemn an innocent man?
After fully reviewing the capital case chosen to be profiled, you can pull up the “verdict form” and cast your own vote. (See, “Verdict Form.”) Is the defendant guilty of capital murder? Or is he innocent? Or is the truth somewhere in between? If you found him guilty of capital murder; would you sentence him to death?
You be the jury… you decide this man’s fate. Your questions and comments are encouraged (See, “Questions and Comments.”) and you can join others as you deliberate to consider your verdict.
Never before has this level of access to both sides (the State’s and the Defendant’s) of an actual capital case been provided in its entirety as it is now. We have selected, and summarized below, a capital case in which the condemned prisoner has consistently insisted he is innocent, but in which both the State and Federal Courts have already denied relief and the defendant has already come within hours of actually being executed before a “stay of execution” was granted to provide further review.
This capital case presents a compelling claim of innocence in which a substantial wealth of newly discovered evidence seemingly supports the defendant’s claim that he was deliberately convicted and condemned to death for a crime he did not commit. Of the presently pending appeal arguing his “actual innocence” is denied, then the defendant in this case will be put to death.
This website is not simply about whether an innocent man has been wrongfully convicted and condemned to death. Our judicial system is no more perfect than any of us are as individuals ~ mistakes will inevitably happen and we know that innocent men and women have already been wrongfully convicted and condemned to death.
Rather, the more important question that must be considered is whether our judicial system itself, if and when confronted with a capital case that does present a compelling question of innocence, supported by substantial evidence, is capable of and willing to protect the innocent from being executed? Or are today’s politically influenced Courts now deliberately obstructing legitimate claims of innocence, even willing to sacrifice the innocent in an insidious attempt to conceal a virtual epidemic of injustice in America?
You can now be the jury. Read the below “summary” of the profiled case, then review the actual trial transcripts and appeal briefs. Then you decide ~ did an allegedly corrupt prosecutor deliberately convict and condemn an innocent man and the judicial system refuse to correct this fundamental injustice, or is this claim of alleged innocence without merit? If you were an actual juror in this capital case, would you be confident enough in his “guilt” to have convicted and condemned him? Does the evidence now available that the original jury did not hear raise sufficient reasonable doubt that if known at trial would have precluded a verdict of guilty? What would your verdict be?
II. Is Justice Being Served?
As Americans, we pride ourselves in the fundamental belief of a firm ~ but fair ~ justice system. No matter how we, as individuals, might feel about the death penalty as a matter of moral conscience we require that guilt be proven beyond a reasonable doubt ~ and we do not advocate executing the innocent. That is simply not who we are as a society.
According to recent governmental statistics, since capital punishment was reinstated over 30 years ago after the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Furman v. Georgia, (1972) which declared the death penalty to be “unconstitutionally arbitrary and capricious.” The United States has now executed just over a thousand men and women.
During that same period of time (1977-2007) at least 130 innocent men and women have been legally exonerated and released from death row after being found to have been wrongfully convicted and condemned to death. Please see, “Death Penalty Information Center”
Think about that for a moment… this indisputable fact means that for every eight men and women we have now executed in the name of “justice,” we have also wrongfully convicted and condemned at least one innocent person. With the many thousands of condemned men and women still presently warehoused on “death rows” across America, can there be any doubt that many more innocent men and women still remain wrongfully condemned to death?
Are we truly experiencing an epidemic of injustice in America? Has the past generation of politically celebrated “war on crime” created a culture of ethically corrupt, overzealous prosecutors willing to deliberately convict and condemn innocent men and women by any means necessary just to advance their own careers?
If an innocent person has been wrongfully convicted and condemned to death, whether by inadvertent error or unethical intent, can we count on our judicial system to protect the innocent from being executed ~ or has our judicial system itself now become so politically corrupt by pro-death penalty judicial activists (judges) that our own courts will now deliberately obstruct the exoneration of the innocent, leading to the inevitable ~ if not even intentional ~ execution of the innocent?
You be the jury as you read the below summary of this capital case, as well as the actual trial transcripts and appeal briefs. Ask yourself if “justice” has been served in this capital case? Are the courts willing to protect the innocent, or is our judicial system itself willing to perpetuate the ultimate injustice ~ refusing to protect the innocent even if it means having an innocent man executed?
If our courts are now incapable of, and unwilling to protect the innocent from being executed, then just who can our judicial system protect?
III. Selecting a Case to Profile
As stated above, this website is primarily intended to address the question of whether our judicial system is capable of, and willing to, protect against the execution of the innocent – or have our politically polarized courts become knowingly complicit in effectively advocating the execution of the innocent?
In examining whether our judicial system continues to be committed to the concept of “fundamental fairness,” which has served as the foundation of our judicial system since the birth of our constitutional democracy, we must look at how our courts actually deal with a claim of innocence raised in capital post conviction appellate proceedings brought by a condemned prisoner.
A long recognized adage in American law is, that it is “far better that 100 guilty men walk free than even one innocent man be condemned.” This reflects our value as a society. For this reason, as a matter of moral conscience we require guilt to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt – and we do not advocate executing the innocent.
Only by isolating an individual capital case and conducting a comprehensive examination of that case as it progresses through the courts in “post conviction” appellate proceedings, can we determine just how the courts review a claim of innocence – and whether “fundamental fairness” is applied to the review of that case… whether claims of innocence raised in capital cases by condemned prisoners are fairly reviewed by the courts and the innocent protected from wrongful execution.
To select an actual capital case that could be profiled to adequately allow for the examination of this question, numerous factors were taken into consideration. Because the issues is whether the innocent might actually face wrongful execution, we want to select a capital case in which the condemned claiming to be innocent has already had his (or her) state and federal appeals denied and actually faced the imminent possibility of execution.
In many of the capital cases in which the innocent have been wrongfully convicted and condemned to death, the appeals presented to the state and federal courts were denied, bringing the condemned prisoner closer to actual execution before the discovery of new evidence (evidence illegally withheld by the state or otherwise “unavailable” at time of trial) was revealed, which led to the legal exoneration of the condemned and release from death row.
Have our courts become increasingly corrupted by politically motivated judicial activists who are willing to execute the innocent? If we are truly experiencing an epidemic of injustice within the American judicial system, then we might compare this to an epidemic of an insidious form of cancer that we, as a society, have an inherent obligation to identify and eradicate before it can corrupt our society as a whole. To determine whether such a “cancer” exists, it stands to reason that we would look to the most likely place we might find it based upon known facts.
According to the “Death Penalty Information Center” and numerous published sources, Florida by far leads the country in the number of “innocent” men and women who were wrongfully convicted and condemned to death only to be subsequently exonerated and released. Of the at least 130 known cases of innocent men and women sent to death row, Florida alone accounts for 23 of these cases – almost one out of every five wrongful convictions in capital cases occurred in Florida alone.
Looking further at the established facts, even in Florida these wrongful convictions in capital cases appear to be especially isolated in just a few of the state’s twenty designated judicial circuits. Just as we know that escalated rates if cancer can exist in localized area’s due to environmental contaminants, similar escalated rates of wrongful convictions can be found in isolated judicial circuits where prosecutorial misconduct is known to be practiced.
In Florida, the Twentieth Judicial Circuit represents just such a concentrated “pod” of wrongful convictions resulting from prosecutorial misconduct in capital cases. Located in the predominantly rural farming area of Southwest Florida, the Twentieth Judicial Circuit is comprised of five counties (Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, and Lee Counties) and is actually one of the smaller judicial circuits in the state.
Incredibly, this single state attorney’s office has sent more innocent men to death row than any other state attorney’s office in the entire country; itself accounting for at least five of the 130 capital cases in which the wrongfully convicted and condemned were exonerated and released.
How could such a small judicial circuit account for such a high number of wrongful convictions in capital cases? Looking further into each of these five known cases (James Richardson, Bradley Scott, Dilbert Tibbs, John Landry, and John Ballard) a pattern of unethical, overzealous prosecution of wholly circumstantial cases emerges often involving the same prosecutors.
Could it only be a coincidence that for at least the last 30 years, this state attorney’s office has been under the control of a virtual “good ole boy” club of college buddies (Joseph D’Allasandro, Steve Russell, and Randall McGruther) all alumni of Stetson University and lifetime friends who have methodically protected each other when any allegations of misconduct arose and have systematically inspired there influence upon the local courts? (Please read, “The Anatomy of a Corrupt Prosecutor.”)
A study of the many cases in which the innocent were wrongfully convicted and condemned to death shows that most were the result of arguably overzealous prosecution of wholly circumstantial cases (no eyewitnesses, no physical or forensic evidence, no confessions, etc.) in which the overly ambitious prosecutor will often adopt a “win by any means necessary” attitude. Ironically, in such cases it is often far easier to convict an innocent person than it would be to convict someone who is actually guilty.
Because of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit’s established propensity to convict and condemn the innocent in such “circumstantial” capital cases, a review of numerous capital cases originating in that judicial circuit was conducted and one particular capital case clearly stood out from all others.
This case – the case of State of Florida v. Michael Lambrix – has been selected to be profiled, as this capital case raises a substantial and supported claim of innocence that questions just how such a capital case is prosecuted. In a circumstantial case, the question if innocence is seldom clear cut. The evidence must be diligently reviewed and the determination of guilt or innocence must be weighed carefully.
A full summary of this capital case is now provided below. The facts presented are taken from the actual trial transcript and court records as well as publications such as published newspaper accounts of the case. Both sides of this capital case are now provided so that you can independently review the actual trial transcript and post conviction appellate proceedings in their entirety, then you can determine for yourself whether justice has been served.
As you fully review the case; and fully read the court records, ask yourself whether, given the manner in which our courts have reviewed this case and resolved the issue of innocence raised, does the evidence support the verdict originally rendered by the jury, or did the state deliberately convict and condemn an innocent man? Is our judicial system capable of, and willing to, protect the innocent from being executed by providing a full and fair review of a legitimate claim of innocence raised in a capital case?
You decide… you be the jury.