The Next Step
August 2, 2006
Troy and John met this past Saturday for the first time, and it was a good meeting. John had read some of Troy’s writings and they had a good talk about spiritual issues and who Troy has become since his crime. They also mostly talked about Troy’s case, and John still wants to pursue the path that I described in the last news item (scroll down).
John has asked Troy to begin drafting a proposal for his plans to help society once he is free — plans that will make it clear that his freedom will be an asset to society. Troy has already written an excellent first draft.
Our timeline is a bit of a long one. There is an election in November, so John says now is not the time to ask for mercy from the system. He wants to wait to introduce the motion after the new year.
Keep praying, meditating, chanting, ululating, whatever it is you do to send out assistance. You can also directly support Troy by dropping him an encouraging note or letter at the address below, or send an email and I can mail it to Troy.
Kinross Correctional Facility
16770 Watertower Dr.
Kincheloe, MI 49788
May 8, 2006
So far so good. Attorney John Smietanka has responded to us after reading through the transcript materials I sent. And we are still in the game.
John has suggested a strategy of introducing a motion to reduce Troy’s sentence (which is currently 60-90 years, of which Troy has served 21). The resentencing motion would be based on Troy’s contrition, his transformative rehabilitation, his potential on the outside, and the fact that, when the judge imposed this sentence in 1985, state guidelines showed that Troy could be paroled in roughly 22 years from sentencing. Laws passed since then now prevent Troy from seeing the parole board until he has served his minimum of 60 years. A lesser sentence would restore the judge’s original intent.
Now is the time for donations, for those of you who have expressed interest (and everyone else). What we have banked right now will take care of a mere slice of the upcoming work. John wants to have a respected psychologist assess Troy for the court, and that will add to our costs. (By the way, you may not know this, but there are not hundreds of people on our email list of Friends. In fact, there are fewer than 150. So every one of you matters.) Also, a deep thank you to those who have donated already. What’s in the bank is there because of you. Please dig deeper if you can.
Please also send your support and love to Troy. He is hanging in there, but facing his sentence again, the longshot we’re taking, and the likelihood of character assault by the other side in the courtroom and the local press is a personal trial-by-fire of its own. The combination of hope and fear inspired by taking big steps like this is draining. Please use Troy’s address below or reply to this email and I’ll pass it on to Troy.
John Smietanka has been inundated with requests for help since he was named Michigan Lawyer of the Year for 2005 with his winning appeal for the wrongly convicted Larry Souter. He told me that he has only taken on two other cases in addition to Troy’s. While John is realistic and calls Troy’s case a “rough road to hoe,” he must see something essentially promising. John is a former long-time prosecutor; he knows what the other side wants to see and obviously he thinks he has a shot at giving them sufficient reason to bet on Troy. This is a good thing, everybody. Keep up the spiritual work and please send funds.
Kinross Correctional Facility
16770 Watertower Dr.
Kincheloe, MI 49788
Feb. 10, 2006
We are hiring an attorney who will lay the groundwork for a possible resentencing hearing and/or commutation request for Troy. If you can spare it, we could use financial help. See below.
John Smietanka is a well-known figure in Michigan legal and political circles. He was just named 2005 Lawyer of the Year for his impressive work last year on behalf of a wrongfully convicted man, Larry Souter, who is now free.
John spent many years as a prosecutor and now leads a two-attorney defense practice in Kent County, which is the jurisdiction in which Troy was convicted and in which any motion for resentencing would have to be filed.
I had a long talk with John about Troy’s case this week and, on the basis of that and good word of mouth, Troy and I decided he is exactly the man we need: well-known and respected in Kent County, a darn good lawyer, and also warm and accessible.
John’s first step on our behalf will be to review Troy’s trial, sentencing and appeal transcripts so that he is conversant in the case. We may then move ahead into the courtroom (and also possibly simultaneously with a request for commutation to the parole board); if not, we will simply go with the request for commutation.
In today’s criminal justice climate, both of these options are pretty much longshots, although I personally think a strong motion for resentencing, with an advocate like John Smietanka, is a lot more likely to succeed than a request for commutation from the governor (they are almost never granted). We need whatever it is you do in terms of sending out good energy: prayers, intentions, etc.
It may be a longshot, but it is also Troy’s only chance since all other appeals have been exhausted.
In order to pay John, we do need financial assistance. We have enough cash to start the work, but need more to see it through to the courtroom.
Thank you for your support.
Our efforts to find pro bono legal help have not yielded any assistance yet (as of Labor Day Weekend 2005). Troy and I have decided we can file for a commutation of his sentence privately, that is, without assistance from a lawyer. This will involve gathering evidence of Troy's good works for a written presentation to the parole board, garnering the support of the prosecutor and judge from his case, gaining some publicity for Troy's situation, and sending letters to the governor of Michigan (to be copied to the parole board) so she knows about Troy and his positive influence on people. This is where our Friends come in, but please don't do anything until we ask; the right timing is key and we don't want premature, wasted effort. We are grateful to Doug Tjapkes, a Michigan advocate for prisoners, for his offers of assistance and will take whatever other assistance anyone wants to offer in terms of organization, publicity, or legal advice.
As many of you are aware, Troy was quite ill in 2004 for four months with serious but undiagnosed symptoms, chiefly neurological and gastrointestinal with rapid weight loss. Fortunately, he has regained much of the weight and is much more functional now, although still experiencing less severe neuro and gastro symptoms and lack of stamina.
The condition has not been diagnosed and prison healthcare services made it very clear that they believed Troy was “malingering” despite his obvious suffering. The experience was very frightening, in equal measure because of the symptoms and the negligence of the prison healthcare system.
Message from Maryann Gorman: Volunteers Needed
Currently, I am seeking legal assistance for Troy's case. The possibilities are many: filing a 6-500 motion, filing a 6-400 motion, requesting commutation from Michigan's governor, requesting a new trial based on problems with the first trial... and, for everything, getting publicity — "good press" about Troy.
I do not right now have a lawyer and I am, ideally, seeking pro bono help. I am looking for a lawyer, law school professor, law firm, and/or legislator willing to work creatively with the many possibilities of this case.
If you are willing to help me find legal assistance, to contact Michigan legislators for advice and help, or just want to work with me on generating ideas for actions that will get Troy out of prison, please e-mail me. We can work with your schedule to request of you no more volunteer time than you can handle.