11 years ago this week we were in the middle of my mom’s two-week trial in St. Louis. The federal building downtown is a beautiful structure in the heart of the city skyline I have called home for close to 15 years. For many years my stomach churned when I came into downtown and saw that building. I am thankfully past that now.
About halfway through her trial when yet another officer of the law (I believe it was an ATF agent) spewed the same scripted story as the others on the witness stand**, I was especially exasperated and disgusted. During a break we went down the elevator with our lawyer.
I asked him “Doug, how do they sleep at night?”
He very clearly and without hesitation said, “Because they think she did it. So, if they have to hedge a little here and lie a little there, the means justify the end.”
I wanted to puke. I still do. And I heard this same theme again only a month ago at an event for the Midwest Innocence Project. A judge (think about that) asked a prosecutor in one of the especially egregious cases of the innocent men on the panel “Are you seeking justice?”. And the prosecutor, brazen and ballsy as this sounds, replied “I am seeking a conviction”.
There is something wrong with a system that places that much power in one person or one office. Additionally, their offices should not maintain the kind of immunity they do when they so blatantly seek “a win” and so tragically deny justice.
The power of the prosecutor in our country is as close to absolute as it gets. Think about that when you vote.
[**All of the statements from law enforcement – from the highway patrol to the ATF to the local fire marshal – could later be discredited by a video the government had edited and suppressed at trial. The video corroborated my mom’s story and proved the government’s entire case to be based on a lie, one told over and over again by men in uniform in her trial. We were unsuccessful in getting that video brought to light in a courtroom on appeal and she served her entire sentence.]
With Gratitude and Hope for the Future,
Founder, Ava’s Grace Scholarship Program
Mom – CEO – Justice Warrior