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Est. April 5, 2002
April 14, 2016 - Issue 649

Picking and Choosing
Who Gets Justice
Corruption in the Prosecutor’s Office


"While there have been several cases
of wrongful conviction that have come
to light over the years, I believe there
are hundreds of people who languished
in prison for years or who are still incarcerated
due to prosecutorial misconduct."

The African American community has little faith in St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office. So it came as no surprise, it would be outraged when Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce announced she would pursue a new trial for Reggie Clemons. Clemons sits on Missouri’s Death Row for crimes that he has maintained his innocence. Her decision in the 25 year old case is another chapter in the legal twists and turns of the Chain of Rocks Bridge tragedy.
The reason why Clemons’ supporters are outraged about the decision is that Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce has chosen to ignore the five year investigation by an independent judge who pondered over all of the testimonies, documents and evidence in the case—including DNA evidence that Joyce’s office claims is new evidence. Judge Michael Manners submitted his findings to the Missouri Supreme Court. After thorough review of the Judge’s conclusion, the Court overturned Reggie’s conviction opening up the door for his long-fought freedom. Joyce’s action to disregard the meticulous work of the judge and the ruling of the state’s highest court is troubling for some and suspicious for others.
First, there’s the question of the misuse of taxpayers’ dollars to take on an expensive trial when there’s already been due diligence done on the case. We can can’t ignore the indisputable history of racial bias and incompetence of the Circuit Attorney’s office. And then there’s the fact that St. Louis is in the middle of an important election for the next city prosecutor.
The prosecutor’s office can’t seem to find the inclination to pursue some criminal cases. When police stole World Series tickets from scalpers in 2006 and used the tickets for family and friends, Joyce said she could find no criminal wrongdoing. Huh? The ACLU helped the Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression to fight for public access to documents. After years of legal blocking by the police department, there was a People’s Victory to see the full scope of the corruption but by then the statute of limitations had run out. This meant that the cops who stole or who used the baseball tickets would not be held criminally accountable. How convenient.
Recently, the “Testimonies of Love, Loss and Legacy” event convened a local gathering of African American fathers who had lost their children to violence. Powerful stories of triumph over grief were delivered by dads from around the country. I recall that a few spoke of trying to get answers from the CA’s office. The family of Mansur Ball-Bey said they have been desperately seeking answers in the police shooting of their loved one with little success.
St. Louis city cop, Jason Flanery was forced to resign when he left the scene of a car crash full of cocaine and alcohol in his system. Flanery is responsible for the death of VonDerrit Meyers in 2014. Flanery was also on the scene at the police shooting of Ball-Bey; his involvement in that case is still to be determined. Joyce is reported to have said that Flanery’s drug-crazed crash of a police car had nothing to do with the Meyer’s case. Was Flanery tested for drugs after wildly firing 17 shots at a teenager in a residential area? If not, to say that there’s no drug connection between the two incidents is unfounded and irresponsible.

While there have been several cases of wrongful conviction that have come to light over the years, I believe there are hundreds of people who languished in prison for years or who are still incarcerated due to prosecutorial misconduct.
The case of Fredrico Lowe-Bey is one of those cases. Centurion Ministries has been working on the case for years with full resistance from the CA’s office to disregard the compelling evidence. Lowe-Bey was wrongfully convicted of rape in 1988; he has already served more time than some who have committed an actual murder. The unbelievable fact in the Lowe-Bey case is that an independent DNA analysis done a few years ago has proven that he is innocent. Yet the charade of injustice continues.
Groups like Centurion Ministries and The Innocence Project are in existence only because of the incredible injustices perpetrated by the very offices that are supposed to pursue truth and justice. Because of the number of wrongful convictions in this country, you are a lucky soul if your case gets chosen by one of these groups.
By now, you may have started to draw some preliminary thoughts about the functioning of the prosecutor’s office. And if you concluded that police seem to get favored over civilians, you’re headed in the right direction. It is up to citizens to reverse that tendency and demand the prosecutor’s office fight for all citizens.
In St. Louis the Circuit Attorney’s office cannot be trusted to carry out its duties in a fair and impartial manner. What about the prosecutor in your city? Editorial Board member and Columnist, Jamala Rogers, founder and Chair Emeritus of the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis. She is an organizer, trainer and speaker. She is the author of The Best of the Way I See It – A Chronicle of Struggle.  Other writings by Ms. Rogers can be found on her blog jamalarogers.comContact Ms. Rogers and BC.




is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

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