Â In wake of Blagojevich’s trial and pending re-trial, entrepreneur-turned advocate urges Attorney General to “fix” broken justice system
Chicago, IL (BlackNews.com)Â – Howard Medley, a prominent Chicago businessman turned advocate for the innocent, has called upon Attorney General Eric Holder to overhaul the U.S. Justice Department, which he says has been virtually unchanged since its inception in 1870.
Medley made this plea in wake of the outcome of the trial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, which he characterized as “an example of what’s wrong with the justice system.”
Calling the judicial process a “travesty” where the scales of justice are more weighted toward sending innocents to jail, Medley appealed to the Attorney General to put a checks-in-balance system in place to prevent the type of “prosecutorial malfeasance” that was evidenced in the government’s case against Blagojevich and in thousands of others that do not gain notoriety.
As the government readies to retry the case, Medley asserted that he concurs with the Washington Post and other outlets calling for the prosecutors to drop the case. However, Medley instead is challenging the Department of Justice to funnel the millions of dollars being spent to re-prosecute the former Illinois government toward “fixing” the system.
Medley also assailed former presidents (Bill) Clinton and (Jimmy) Carter for making high-profile junkets to North Korea to free Americans when there are thousands of innocents in America’s prisons who need advocates and intervention.
Medley, president of Medley’s Movers, a retired Chicago Elections Commissioner, former Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) board member who served under five Mayors, said the Blagojevich case is “another example of the failure of the justice system.” While he would not speculate on Blagojevich’s innocence or guilt, he says that the case underscores the fact that “we continue to rely on the same old dilapidated system that has remained almost virtually unchanged since its inception in 1870.”
Medley assesses that “the system did not work in 1870 and does not work now because since its inception, innocent people have been sentenced and even falsely executed under this system.”
Medley pointed out that the only improvement to the system has been the discovery and use of DNA to prove innocence or guilt. He added that DNA testing to prove innocence is most often a tool of advocates, rather than government prosecutors. He cited the tenacious college students from the Medill Innocence Project at Northwestern University whose reliance on DNA, and their own investigative skills, have freed 11 innocent men…five who were on Death Row.
A victim himself of what he classifies as judicial overzealousness, Medley blames the system’s failings on prosecutors who are driven by:
* a thirst to close high-profile cases – even when evidence is suspect or non-existent
* a vindictive craving to exact revenge or settle a score
* a quest for fame – even at the expense of justice
Medley said the situation is compounded because the fate of those accused is decided by a pool of jurors who are untrained to sift through such a mountain of “evidence.” He said this sets the stage for miscarriages of justice.
Referring specifically to the Blagojevich case – but concluding that these dynamics are pervasive in other cases — Medley assessed that:
* this case was decided by marginally compensated, poorly-trained jurors, who appeared to be overwhelmed by the complicated testimony and presentations
* jurors are more often swayed by the theatrics of attorneys
* Hard-working jurors must take time away from their jobs, lives and families while being marginally compensated. This magnifies their stress – often preventing them from rendering a true, unbiased verdict.
Medley says he is disturbed when he sees “current and former presidents, as well as other high-profile leaders venture to foreign lands seeking justice for purported innocents while innocent people languish in America’s prisons.” He said it appears they are “more interested in international events rather than America’s national crises.” He admonished them to address the same abuse that are flagrantly occurring right here in America. He dismissed these junkets as being PR driven bent on “seeking fame – not concern for justice.”
Medley said President Carter needs to go right up the highway to the Georgia Correctional facility to see the human rights abuses and injustice rather than embarking on a global junket to North Korea. Repeating his plea for sweeping reform, Medley emphasized that in a country as rich in resources as America that prides itself on its devotion to human rights, it is critical that the justice system be overhauled. He said the U.S. Department of Justice must “protect the rights of the innocent and stop the flow of innocent people from being hauled off to prison like cattle to slaughter.”