Christmas Eve, a day when I love to tell warm stories. The problem is that reality keeps interfering.
I have two short stories today, one of gladness…one of sadness. Both created by decisions of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. Last Friday, December 21, he granted clemency to 61 prisoners before leaving office: 35 pardons and 26 commutations.
Keep in mind that he received more than 4,000 requests for clemency from prisoners. No matter what he decided, there would be joy and sadness. And that was the case with two of our clients.
James Hicks has been in prison since 1986, but he’s a rare breed. He decided that during his time of incarceration it was time to make things right with society. So, he worked with authorities at both the state and federal levels on case of case, getting conviction after conviction. In one scandal, a deputy warden was sent to prison. Through it all, the State of Michigan saved millions of dollars.
HFP began actively assisting Jimmy in getting some relief from his 50-200 year sentence after the State of Michigan made a promise to get him re-sentenced for his stellar work on a case. But then, after the trial was won, they changed their mind. “Nah, I don’t think so.” We worked for the next decade to help get his release. An overdue victory came last Friday when Governor Snyder commuted his sentence.
We celebrate with Mr. Hicks today!
But the same can’t be said for Nancy Seaman, sentenced to life in prison in 2005 for killing her abusive husband…even though he was doing his best to kill her when the attack occurred.
We shared her story with local activist and freelance writer Kelle Lynn, who went on to found Justice Through Storytelling, an agency focusing on cases just like this. Kelle waged a massive campaign to free Nancy. The case garnered national attention, and the Governor received hundreds of letters of support for this award-winning school teacher.
When the list came out Friday, Nancy’s name was not on it.
One of her supporters, Pat Hardy of Bloomington Hills, said bitterly: “… forget about making phone calls or writing letters to the Governor’s office or to the Parole Board. They couldn’t care less!
The heart of Nancy Seaman is broken. “God long ago abandoned me. I know that now.”
That’s not true, of course. But on Christmas Eve, 2018, she’s not convinced.