Excuse me for being graphic, but I almost had to vomit when I read the front page of The Birmingham News this morning.
This story caused my gastric distress. It is about Shelby County Circuit Judge J. Michael Joiner and his decision to vacate a death sentence for LaSamuel Gamble, who was one of two defendants convicted for a 1996 double homicide and robbery at a pawn shop on Highway 280 near Birmingham.
Marcus Presley, the other defendant in the case, was moved off Death Row after the U.S. Supreme Court, in Roper v. Simmons, ruled that killers could not be put to death for slayings they committed while juveniles. Presley, then 16, was the shooter, as recorded on a store security tape. Gamble, 18 at the time, had remained under a death sentence until Joiner's ruling.
In issuing his ruling, Joiner said that keeping Gamble under a death sentence would be "constitutionally unfair." I have no problem with the correctness of Joiner's ruling, given the Roper case. In fact, it's the first time, that I'm aware of, Joiner actually has ruled according to the law.
Joiner, of course, was the original judge in the bogus malicious prosecution filed against me by attorney Bill Swatek on behalf of my Neighbor From Hell. By my conservative estimate, I would say Joiner made 20 to 30 unlawful rulings in my case, causing a lawsuit that, by law had to be dismissed (summary judgment) in a few months time, to drag on for five-plus years. This cost me, and Alabama taxpayers, thousands of dollars.
And when I say the lawsuit had to be dismissed, I'm talking about a nondiscretionary ruling--one where law clearly proscribed what the judge was to do. And there were numerous other rulings that Joiner was required to make, according to law, but he ruled in unlawful ways. Put another way, Joiner repeatedly denied me due process and equal protection of the law that are guaranteed by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
But now this same judge claims to be concerned about constitutional fairness? Hey, judge where was the constitution 5-6 years ago? Where was fairness then? Why did you take a case involving Bill Swatek, with whom you consort regularly on area golf courses? And why are you such buds with Swatek, an attorney who has a record of sleaze dating back almost 30 years?
For you readers, here's another thing that might make your stomach turn: To be blunt about it, J. Michael Joiner is a criminal. He has repeatedly violated federal mail fraud statutes in my case, and yet he has the authority to make life-and-death decisions in our courts. Because Joiner is a Republican, the Bush Justice Department ignores his crime. But he's still a criminal, one who happens to wear a robe.
It's people like Joiner who have turned me against the death penalty. Our justice system is so broken--judges, prosecutors, the whole bunch--that we have no business putting anybody to death. I have no idea what to do with people like LaSamuel Gamble and Marcus Presley. They evidently are truly horrible people. But they should not be judged by lowlifes like Mike Joiner, nobody should be judged by Mike Joiner.
Joiner has neither the intellect nor the character to run a corner lemonade stand. And yet he is making life-and-death decisions in Alabama courts. Scary. Truly scary.