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When I began this blog, a little over a year ago, its stated purpose was to contribute to the growing conversation about America’s Criminal Justice System, and the crucial need to reform it, and that remains its core focus. However, at a time when our country is experiencing major political, economic, and social divisiveness, it entered my mind that a brief pause to reflect on baseball, a subject that historically served well to bring Americans of widely divergent backgrounds joyfully together, would provide a welcome change of pace.
Spring is a time of renewal, a time when Mother Earth, having rested, gifts us with rebirth, with sunshine, and flowering trees and shrubs, and the hopeful smile they engender. And when April rolls into view, and skips into May, Baseball also renews its role in our lives, and with its rich traditions, draws us together instead of apart, as James Earl Jones so simply but eloquently argued in the poignant film Field Of Dreams.
Years ago, sitting in Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, I began to write a poem that spoke to the value of Baseball, and its ability to bind generations together. I entitled it Bottom Of The Ninth, and I am sharing it with you today in the hope that it will gift you with a smile, and water the seeds of unity within each of us.
BOTTOM OF THE NINTH
Went to a ballgame tonight,
took along a buddy, my
son, aged just 7.
As we enter the stadium,
he squeezes his small hand
just as I had inside another’s a
long time ago,
Or was it just yesterday?
The squeeze says, “Gosh, this
place is big, I didn’t know there
were this many people in the
I nod, knowingly,
We stroll, find our seats,
The Star Spangled Banner
sounds, Old Glory waves proudly
in the warm summer night, and
the home team explodes onto the
field, propelled by the cheering
crowd and the umpires’ age-old call
to action: “Play ball!”
Fastball, curve, change-up,
Single, double, a steal,
Cheers, jeers, a sigh,
We’re winning, we’re losing, it’s
all tied up,
Matty’s eyes wide with excitement
as we munch hot dogs, cokes, and
just like mine were a
long time ago,
Or was it only yesterday?
“Gee, Dad, this is fun” he
“For sure, son,” I answer,
renewing my smile,
feeling the delight,
the innings speeding by till
we reach the seventh and
The game’s still even,
darting into the intoxicating
atmosphere: the difference between
hit and run, run and hit,
slugging percentages and
teaching, just as I was taught a
long time ago,
Or was it just yesterday?
Then, with single loud crack of a bat,
Bottom of the ninth, a home run!
Thunders of cheers and applause,
and a hug and a kiss from a tired but
exhilarated little boy,
just as I had been a
long time ago,
Or was it only just yesterday?
“Thanks, Dad,” he murmurs faintly
as we shuffle slowly to find our car.
“You’re welcome, son, my pleasure,”
I reply through a fresh smile, then
add silently, an ache crushing my
And thank you, Grampy, God bless!
I know you were here tonight,
sitting right between us,
I could feel the gentle pat of your
See your kind loving smile and the
my heart swelling with satisfaction
from the shared gift of
I know, because that’s why
it was so special, so extra
special, I end,
smiling yet again,
this time through my tears,
this time with hope,
Both of my last two blog posts have honored Black History Month. The first was devoted to the monumental work, From Slavery to Freedom, A History of African Americans, by the eminent historian John Hope Franklin and his distinguished colleague, Alfred Moss, Jr. And the second post followed with a review of the excellent book, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, and the Struggle for Racial Uplift, by Jacqueline M. Moore.
As this year’s final tribute, I am adding The Souls of Black Folk, by the great black intellectual and civil rights leader, W.E.B. DuBois. As the note introducing this masterful and eloquent volume states: “Part social documentary, part history, part autobiography, part anthropological field report, The Souls of Black Folk remains unparalleled in its scope.” And I would add, not only true at the time of its publication in 1903, but equally true today.
When I began this work, I knew many things about W.E.B., facts like he was a great intellectual, of his differences with Booker T. Washington, on how best to uplift the black race after their emancipation, and that he was one of the prime founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. And while I had read that he was a fine writer, I had never met him on the printed page in person, and was therefore unprepared for his masterful abilities with language.
In his preface, W.E.B. introduces himself to his reader and instantly forms a personal relationship with him or her by humbly asking, “I pray you, then, receive my little book in all charity, studying my words with me…seeking to find the grain of truth hidden there.” And when the reader accepts this kind and generous offer, he or she is very quickly rewarded with such an in-depth exploration of the struggles of the freed blacks to survive and slowly progress in the hostile world they faced after emancipation, a struggle so vividly portrayed by W.E.B., with a rare combination of pathos and dignity, that the reader will come as close to possible to stepping into the shoes of the oppressed people portrayed.
In just 164 pages, W.E.B. takes the reader on a journey from the Reconstruction Era to 1900, educating him or her with first-hand accounts of what it was like for a black person seeking help from the Freedmen’s Bureau, then struggling to create a hardscrabble living from farming, and learning to read and write, all in the face of a hostile white society. Further along the path, when blacks began migrating north, W.E.B. then takes the reader further inside minds and hearts of those blacks seeking to find housing and acquire skills and having done so, being rewarded by facing virulent racial bias in the job market.
Religion and music, and their important roles in the cultural lives of blacks, during slavery and onward along the slow and painful path that they traversed as freedmen is also treated by W.E.B. Once again, the first-hand accounts so vividly described in detail leap off the page to surround the reader to experience both the positive and negative effects of these great influences on a people seeking desperately to live.
In the end, after years of effort that resulted in personal success, an exhausted W.E.B. formed the opinion that the white bias of inherent superiority was so deeply ingrained that blacks would never be treated as equal members of American society, and he emigrated to Ghana and lived out his life there. Today, despite the progress that has been made, despite the gains resulting from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and even despite the election of an African American President, race remains a major problem for America. In The Afterthought attached to his vitally important book, W.E.B. did offer what to me is a prayer for justice that is as fully applicable today as it was in 1903.
“Hear my cry, O God the Reader; vouchsafe that this my book fall not still-born unto the world-wilderness. Let there spring, Gentle One, from out its leaves vigor of thought and thoughtful deed to reap the harvest wonderful. (Let the ears of a guilty people tingle with truth, and seventy millions sigh for the righteousness which exalteth nations, in this drear day when human brotherhood is mockery and a snare.) Thus in Thy good time may infinite reason turn the tangle straight, and These crooked marks on a fragile leaf be not indeed.”
This book inspired me to try harder to do my share to make that prayer come true. I wholeheartedly recommend it to all who would seek a similar experience.
Since I began my blog in 2014, just before publication of my novel Gideon’s Children, I have argued that the foremost problem facing our Criminal Justice System, mirroring American society as a whole, is the issue of race.
Because this serious problem has its origin centuries before our country was colonized and then transformed into the United States, for those who seek to fully understand the long, tragic history of racism, I highly recommend reading From Slavery to Freedom, A History of African Americans by the eminent historian John Hope Franklin, and his distinguished co-author, Alfred Moss, Jr.
Meticulously researched by Franklin and Moss, this highly readable book begins by presenting a broad view of early African empires, Ghana, Mali, and Songhay, dating back to before the Middle Ages. In fascinating detail, the reader is presented with societies that were remarkably sophisticated, with a sharp focus on their political, economic, and social systems, as well as art and music.
After this foundation is carefully laid, the authors then sweep forward to The Slave Trade and the New World, followed by Colonial Slavery, thus providing a vivid portrait of the roots of racism and the problem that has haunted America ever since their development. No detail is spared in depicting the tragic irony involved as the founders of the colonies, and thereafter the United States, idealized freedom and democracy, while simultaneously permitting the abominable institution of slavery to exist and flourish.
Building upon this base, eras are then explored, depicting the role of Blacks from the New Republic to Manifest Destiny, to Slavery and Intersectional Strife, to the Civil War, then followed by Reconstruction and Economic Adjustment. And adding to a well-rounded narrative that incorporates opposite viewpoints, from white supremacy to abolitionist philosophy, along with governing political, economic, social, and religious factors, the authors further spice their comprehensive story-line with Eyewitness Accounts from a cross-section of individuals who lived during the various times.
In the last third of this monumental work, the authors offer a vivid picture of the enormity of African Americans’ struggle to survive and become full citizens, from the latter part of the 1860s through the turn of the century and World War I, then continuing from the 1920s through the Great Depression and World War II, and further from the post war through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s to the turn of the Twenty-first century.
Each era is explored thoroughly from a political, economic, social, and religious perspective, with chapters also devoted to cultural revolutions such as The Harlem Renaissance.
I began by recommending From Slavery to Freedom to those who seek to fully understand the long, tragic history of racism. I feel compelled to add that everyone would benefit from reading it. For while those of us living today are not to blame for slavery and the racism underlying it, I would argue that we are responsible for eliminating the cancer of racism in our country and in our world, and working steadfastly as individuals and through our political, social, economic, and cultural institutions to create a just society for all members.
As Hanukkah and Christmas approach, I deviate from essays focused on our Criminal Justice System to suggest several books (in addition to Gideon’s Children, of course) that are entertaining, educational, and inspirational, and whose receipt would provide pleasure, knowledge, and spiritual growth to the recipients and their families and friends with whom they are sure to share.
Below, you will find full reviews of each of the books I am suggesting, which originally appeared on Goodreads. These works are true treasures, and my holiday wish for everyone my words reach is that you will gift yourself, as well as your loved ones with a present that will last a lifetime.
Thank you for listening. And all good wishes for a joyous Holiday Season and a brighter 2016 for our world!
#1: Beauty by John O’Donohue
As an author who fancies that he has some facility for using language, reading Beauty was truly a humbling experience. In fact, other than Thomas Wolfe of You Can’t Go Home Again fame, in my sixty-nine-year reading odyssey I have never encountered a writer with such a gift of language as John O’Donohue, and I highly recommend reading Beauty to experience of the author’s incredible ability to depict the various aspects of beauty and describe thoughts and feelings about it alone. Add to this gift, the author’s immense powers of observation and wise insights, and my opinion is that Beauty is one of the ten most important books that one could read.
Language…ah, yes, language. I will not attempt to use adjectives and adverbs to further describe O’Donohue’s gift, but instead supply a few of his phrases which were my favorites. “Time had come to rest in the silence and stillness of Loch Corrib;” “the tired machinations of the ego are abandoned;” “the interior geometry of things;” the automatic traffic of functioning;” “addicts of the familiar;” “imagination has retained the grace of innocence;” and “the silent majesty of the ordinary.” And speaking of majesty, Tom Verducci, a columnist for Sports Illustrated recently opined that “Defining majesty drives man to his literary boundaries.” I realized how true this was when I was faced with trying to adequately communicate how gifted John O’Donohue is, and I would opine that John’s boundaries were wide indeed!
Content…ah, yes, content. After treating the reader to an Introduction, defining beauty and its vital importance to our lives and our world, O’Donohue then separates his exploration of the subject into ten chapters. Looking back on Beauty, I think of it as a wheel with ten spokes: The Call Of Beauty; Where Does Beauty Dwell; The Music Of Beauty; The Color Of Beauty; The Joy Of Shapes That Dance; Imagination: Beauty’s Entrance; Attraction: The Eros Of Beauty; The Beauty Of The Flaw; The White Shadow: Beauty And Death; and God Is Beauty. And in only 249 magnificent pages, the author presents the reader with a wealth of knowledge and insights in the various aspects that compose the circle of beauty. Each chapter is so full of thoughts and feelings, that one reads and rereads constantly in an effort to drink it all in and hold it. Then, as I did, the reader most like will say to his or herself, “I’m going to read and reread these chapters one at a time over the rest of my lifetime.”
I conclude by again quoting Tom Verducci, who observed of another writing that “The knowledge and wisdom was so great as to invite our most ambitious attempts at commemoration.” My most ambitious attempt to commemorate O’Donahue’s Beauty is indeed feeble next to the genius of his work. I can only urge my fellow readers to enter its pages and experience for yourselves. It will change your life for the better! I received this absolute wonderment as a gift for my 75th birthday from my dear friend, Julienne Givot, for which I give heartfelt thanks!
#2: Consolations by David Whyte
I am very excited to recommend to you, Consolations, The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words, by David Whyte. My excitement stems from the fact that I have rarely read such a valuable book, and by that I mean that this 245-page collection of two-to-four page essays rewards the reader with a treasure trove of insights into what it means to be a human being. Whyte, a poet of considerable renown, with seven volumes of poetry to his credit, (as well as four books of prose), takes words like Alone, Beauty, Friendship, Joy, Pain, and Work, to name just a few, and presents a short essay on each that is filled with discoveries that stir both an intellectual and emotional reaction.
Whyte utilizes a beautiful lyrical style to explore the depths of meaning for each word, and one will find his or her head nodding in agreement with one paragraph, and smiling and shaking one’s head in amazement at discovering something entirely new in the next. And because the author manages to capture so many angles of insight in a short space, one can easily return to a chapter for rereading and the further reward this offers.
The genius of David Whyte was introduced to me by a good friend, Julienne Givot , and the best way I know to thank her is to introduce it to others.
#3: Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith
Tracy K. Smith is the author of three books of poetry. Her first, Duende, won the James Laughlin Award, her second, The Body’s Question, won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, and her third, Life On Mars, won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize. Even though I am a lover of poetry, I was unfamiliar with Tracy’s work, and when my daughter Amy gifted me with her Memoir, Ordinary Light, I ordered Life On Mars to read alongside it, which latter volume I’ll review in my next post.
To begin, I’d like to share with you my feeling that in my seventy-five years I’ve never read a memoir that brought me greater satisfaction. Tracy’s use of language alone makes her memoir worth reading, her lyrical style, born from her poetic foundation, singing and dancing with metaphors and similes as sentences flow effortlessly into one another, while the warmth of her personality combines with her naked search for truth to create an intimacy with her reader.
Ordinary Light shares with its reader Tracy’s development from childhood through graduation from college as the youngest of five children in a remarkable African-American family. Born in 1972, as Tracy grows year by year in Fairfield, California, one learns the background of her beloved mother and father, including their roots in Alabama courtesy of Tracy’s grandparents who the reader also meets. Watched over carefully by her mother, her best friend, Tracy’s remarkable memory traces her thoughts and feelings about her mom beginning at age five, then expands her scope to include her dad and two brothers and two sisters. Artfully, she interweaves the influence on her young and developing life of each member of her family, then adds friends, school, and church to paint a picture so full and so real that the reader feels as if he or she, too, is included in the various relationships, and is traveling right alongside Tracy as she develops from a gifted kindergartner to a mature young woman learning from her mistakes as well as her successes.
Having been raised steeped in the Christian faith, but also to believe equally strongly in the power of education, as Tracy matures she, and her siblings, face questions that bring both building blocks into conflict. And what makes Tracy’s memoir so valuable is the depth of her thoughts and feelings she shares as she probes honestly and fearfully to find the truth and her own pathway into the world, a journey most of us can relate to in varying degree. In the end, Tracy learns and teaches that personally there is more than one truth, that her’s can differ from her mother’s and father’s without rejecting theirs, but instead taking a part of theirs and adding to it her own.
Ordinary Light is an extraordinary work by an author whose exceptional mind and memory are matched by the size of her heart. Exquisitely honest and sensitive, and wise, it is one of the very most memorable books it has been my privilege to know in my seventy-five years, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to my fellow readers.
#4: The Private Lives of the Impressionists by Sue Roe
This work is a true treasure, like the paintings of impressionist painters who are its subject. And like the artists she chronicles, Sue Roe begins with a large blank canvas, then with a novelistic style masterfully fills it in with her subjects and their individual stories until the reader is presented with a full and satisfying group portrait.
First up is Paul Durand-Ruel, the art dealer who from 1860 to 1886 supported and nourished the impressionists economically and with steadfast encouragement. Arriving in New York City in 1886 with 300 of their paintings, he introduces impressionism to America, and subsequently fosters prosperity for himself and his artists.
Then, retreating to the beginning of the movement in 1860, as time ticks forward Roe introduces her cast of nine artists one by one. And as the reader meets Monet, Pissarro, Cezanne, Renoir, Sisley, Bazille, Manet, Degas, and Morisot, and they meet and connect with each other, the reader is treated to short but amazingly full mini bios that make each individual come alive as a real person. And with individual backgrounds and separate personalities established, Roe then treats the reader to the group’s twenty-six-year journey forward, during which these nine future hall-of-fame artists share struggle, failure, and success. And as they form a collective friendship, as well as separate friendships within the group, their private lives are illuminated. Affairs, marriage, children, illnesses, friends, exhibitions of their work, and the landscapes and people who inhabit their painting all spill forth to add to the reader’s knowledge of each artist’s separate life and the amazing interaction between their life as a group.
To further paint a complete picture for the reader, Roe weaves in the historical events surrounding the artists, from the development of Paris from a medieval city to the City of Light that Baron Haussman made possible, to Louis Napoleon and the Franco-Prussian War.
Roe’s writing is so rich with insights into the humanity of each of the artists she features, that after only 270 pages, the reader comes away feeling that he or she has far more than a survey-course understanding of each, and of what together they gifted to the world with their art.
#5: Julius Rosenwald by Peter M. Ascoli
Last October, in a newspaper article about philanthropists, there was a reference to a man who built schools for blacks in the rural south in the early decades of the Twentieth Century. His name was Julius Rosenwald. And intrigued, I consulted Wikipedia, which informed that Mr. Rosenwald was a major founder of Sears, Roebuck & Company and after becoming enormously wealthy, devoted himself to philanthropy on a massive scale, with particular interest in assisting the downtrodden. I also learned that there was a biography, which amazingly Amazon could not provide, but which Book Depository in England could.
Bearing the sub-title The Man Who Built Sears and Advanced the Cause of Black Education in the American South, Julius Rosenwald was written by Peter M. Ascoli, a grandson who never met him because Julius died ten years before Peter was born. Thoroughly researched, and written in a style that makes the reader feel as if Peter is telling one a very interesting story, the author begins with by introducing Julius’ father Samuel and his immigration to the United States and subsequent success in business and marriage to Julius’ mother to whom he was devoted his entire life. Subsequent chapters inform the reader as to Julius’ early years, his dropping out of high-school after two years, and his steady rise thereafter to become one of the most successful businessmen in American history.
Having stated in the Introduction that his primary focus was on the philanthropy of Julius, who the author personalizes by referring to him as JR, Peter then devotes the last three-quarters of the book to JR’s charitable endeavors, interweaving from time to time subsequent business successes of JR at Sears, and providing mini biographies of individuals who played important roles in both areas of JR’s life, from Rabbi Emil Hirsch, who greatly influenced JR’s charitable work, to luminaries such as Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, and those who personally assisted him in his charitable endeavors such as Richard Graves and Edwin Embree, all the while filling in with fascinating episodes about JR’s interaction with Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover, as well as his beloved wife, Gussie, and their children.
What makes this book so readable is the author’s ability to make the reader feel as if he or she is meeting each of the cast of characters and knowing them. Through JR, a truly exceptional individual, the reader is both entertained and educated by his enormous success in business and philanthropy. In the latter arena, amazement also creeps in. For during the early decades of the Twentieth Century, a time when most of white America did not hold African Americans in high regard, JR established a program that over the next twenty plus years resulted in the building of 5,337 elementary schools for blacks in 15 southern states. And the fruitful way in which he did it is also amazing. JR worked with local black leaders, and local city-county governments to construct the schools. He would provide $5,000 ($150,000+ in today’s dollars) if private donations by blacks, and the local governments matched it. JR’s philosophy was that the best way to help poor blacks was to allow them to contribute so that they had a stake in the endeavor, and to draw government involvement so that as the years passed they would make the necessary investment to keep the schools running. As a result, millions of rural African Americans received a basic education, as well as vocational training.
JR also contributed to African-American higher education, becoming a Board Member of the Tuskegee Institute, and contributing to Fisk, Howard, and Dillard Universities. The list of his other charitable endeavors is well covered by the author, with The University Of Chicago, The Chicago Museum of Industry & Science, Hull House, and numerous Jewish Charities featured.
In conclusion, I heartily recommend this book, not only for its fascinating treatment of a special man and his times, but because it is highly relevant to the issue of social justice today, and has interesting suggestions about how American society can work toward achieving it.
It’s a sad fact that fifty years after the Gideon v. Wainwright decision mandated representation for every person charged with a crime, Public Defenders are still drastically underfunded, understaffed, overworked, and often disrespected by prosecutors, judges, court personnel, and sometimes their own clients.
As illustrated in my novel, Gideon’s Children (http://www.amazon.com/Gideons-Children), Public Defenders are outnumbered by prosecutors by as much as 3 to 1, depending upon the jurisdiction. When I served as a Los Angeles County Public Defender in the late Sixties, and was stationed in the Compton Judicial District, I faced calendars of 10 Felony Preliminary Hearings or 25 Misdemeanor cases alone, while the prosecution had two or three Deputy DAs handling the State’s interests. And while the prosecution had the assistance detailed below, I had me, myself, and I.
The job of a Public Defender is both difficult and lonely in equal measure. It is difficult because the power of the State is enormous. The prosecutor has at his or her disposal the officers who arrested the defendant, an investigating officer, handwriting experts, ballistic experts, a crime lab, and if further assistance is necessary, the services of the FBI. And it is lonely, because against this arsenal, the Public Defender almost always stands alone with the responsibility of defending his or her client resting solely on his or her shoulders. Even the defense’s placement at the counsel table reflects the unequal footing between the prosecution and the defense, with the Public Defender and the defendant seated furthest from the jury box and the prosecutor, who represents The People, closest, an implied good-guy/bad-guy status.
I cannot therefore emphasize strongly enough the tremendous value of the services offered today to Public Defenders by the Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project (http://acjusticeproject.org/) and their invaluable program of Participatory Defense!
In organizing communities and educating them with respect to the workings of the Criminal Justice System, then encouraging the active engagement of families in the defense of a loved one who is currently involved in this System, ACJP is providing an extremely helpful service to communities, the families of one charged with a crime, and to the overworked Public Defender who is representing the defendant. By knowing where to go to obtain a copy of the arrest report, family and/or friends can familiarize themselves with the allegations, contact witnesses on behalf of the jailed defendant if there are any, and take photos of the crime scene if relevant. Recalling my own experience as an overworked Public Defender struggling to give each and every defendant on an overcrowded court calendar the best representation possible, and the countless times I wished that I had an investigator to perform such tasks, the value of what ACJP is providing for Public Defenders is incalculable.
And building upon this foundation, ACJP then makes the further contribution of offering training to Public Defender Offices around the country on how to engage client communities and form partnerships with local stakeholders in order to increase the effectiveness and capacity of the program outlined above.
There are few win-win-win situations in life. But in helping individuals in our poorer communities gain knowledge of their own rights within our Criminal Justice System, then training them to further use this knowledge to assist a loved one charged with a crime, and in so doing, lessen the highly stressful burden under which Public Defenders operate in providing the best defense possible under the circumstances for each and every person they represent, ACJP is acting as a Godsend to all parties involved. As a former Public Defender, and one who has never lost his passion for pursuing social justice, heartfelt thanks to everyone at ACJP for the vitally important work they do!
I’m pleased to donate all of the proceeds from the sale of my book, Gideon’s Children, during the month of November to ACJP in support of their continued efforts to promote equality and justice.
On August 12, 2015, I read an OP-ED in the New York Times by Law Professor Julie Seaman of Emory University, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/12/opinion/when-innocence-is-no-defense.html?_r=0, the essence of which aroused in me intense feelings of frustration and outrage, to the point of tears.
In 2001 a young woman in Thunderbolt, Georgia was sexually assaulted by a burglar wearing gloves, whom she discovered upon arriving home. Subsequently, the police found stolen items in the home of Sterling Flint’s girlfriend, who told them Sterling had stated that they were his. Thereafter, Flint made a deal with the prosecutor and testified at trial that an acquaintance of his, Sandeep Bharadia gave the items to him. Flint received a 24-year sentence, and Bharadia, who maintained his innocence and claimed he was 250 miles away at the time of the crime, was sentenced to life without parole.
Mr. Bharadia’s trial attorney, for unknown reasons, did not request DNA testing of the gloves worn by the burglar-assailant, but his appellate lawyer did, as well as made a motion for a new trial. The appellate court granted the request, and the testing showed female DNA on the outside and male DNA – but not Mr. Bharadia’s – on the inside, but the appellate court declined to allow DNA testing of Flint, and no new trial occurred.
Several years later, however, the Georgia Innocence Project took up the case in 2012, and had the DNA results run through the national Codis DNA database, and scored a hit: The male DNA belonged to Flint.
Great news for Mr. Bharadia, right? WRONG! “Under Georgia precedent, a defendant is not entitled to a new trial based on new evidence if the court finds that he could have discovered the evidence at the time of the original trial, had he or his lawyer been diligent enough. Such requirements, which are common, are designed to prevent convictions from being endlessly re-examined.”
First of all, the overwhelming majority of convictions are not endlessly re-examined. And in this case if the appellate court had allowed Flint’s DNA to be tested, the result that it was his that matched the gloves would have been discovered in the first and only re-examination. So where does endlessly come into play here?
But far more importantly, while no one knows why Mr. Bharadia’s trial attorney did not request DNA testing of the subject gloves, why should a defendant be held responsible for his lawyer’s mistake? As described in my novel, Gideon’s Children, Public Defenders (and private defense counsel) when they begin practice are inexperienced, and frequently exhausted by the overwhelming caseload they do their best to handle. Maybe that was the case here, I don’t know. What I do know is that no person charged with a crime, let alone a serious one, should never be penalized for his attorney’s mistake!
I ask you, dear reader: Stop and fully concentrate on the above-described situation. Then, ask yourself how you would feel if you were in Mr. Bharadia’s shoes, having already served 12 years in prison for a crime you most probably did not commit, and now having a court agree with that proposition, but advise you that because of your attorney’s mistake, and the expediency employed by the Criminal Justice System to avoid endless re-examination of convictions, you’ll still have to spend the rest of your life in prison.
I feel confident that if you do so, you’ll join me and Lady Justice in feeling outrage so intense that it spawns tears!