Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Hurting for the "little guy"

In my years of radio broadcasting, a listener finally wrote a letter to the radio station wondering just who was that “little guy” that I kept fighting for?  I never kept it a secret that, as an editorial writer, I was going to flex my muscles on the airwaves for the “little guy.”

That is still my passion.

On this day before Thanksgiving, I’m sitting here trying to fashion a prayer to be recited by our extended family before dinner tomorrow.  I’m using the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson as a template.

As I try to concentrate, my mind keeps wandering to issues that I find troubling at Thanksgiving time, 2015:  terrorist attacks, nations fighting with nations, shootings by those who are supposed to be protecting us, hateful comments toward people of a religion different than my own.  Sad.

But once again, the problem of the “little guy” takes precedence.

Years ago I took up the cause of a prisoner who was NOT wrongly convicted.  And here’s why.

He had first-hand knowledge of a murder…another prisoner had openly boasted about committing the crime.  This inmate is a Christian, and felt that it was his duty to report this to authorities.  He didn’t ask for anything in return.  He wasn’t trying to get a lesser sentence.  He wasn’t hoping for a transfer to a less secure prison.  He was simply doing what his conscience told him to do.

But the state improved on that.  Thanks to discussions by his attorney and with the Prosecutor of that county, my friend was promised that if he testified in court, and if that testimony was effective, they would do their part to get him re-sentenced.  That would be huge, because it would eventually mean freedom for him. 

And so he testified.  The testimony worked!  The state got a conviction on first degree murder.
What happened to my friend?  Did he get re-sentenced?  Is he a productive citizen in a free society now?  Don’t make me laugh.

He’s still in prison.  The guarantees of anonymity were hollow. He constantly fears for his life, despised by both guards and inmates.  There are rumors of contracts on his life.  Last year someone tried to poison him.

What about the offer by the state?  Well, they’ve re-thunk it.  They got what they wanted, and after all, this guy is just a prisoner, right?

Thanks to HFP, one of the state’s leading criminal defense attorneys has come to this man’s assistance.  We appealed to the Governor for a commutation of sentence based on all this prisoner has done, because he has helped the state numerous times since then.  The Assistant Prosecutor who originally put him away wrote a three-page letter of support! 

Did the Governor listen?  Nope.

Two days before Thanksgiving, 2015, he received a letter of rejection in the mail.

Happy Thanksgiving!

As I’m writing tomorrow’s prayer for my beautiful family, I’m hurting for the “little guy.” 

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