Monday, January 11, 2010

A letter I wrote to Judge Thomas F. Eagleton regarding Leonard Peltier in 2006

Thomas F. Eagleton United States Court House 111 South 10th Street St. Louis, MO 63102 Phone (314) 244-2600 FAX (314) 244-2605

To those honorable parties presiding over the Appeals Hearing of Mr. Leonard Peltier,

It has come to my attention that come February 13th, 2006 you will be presiding over a hearing regarding the case of Mr. Leonard Peltier. As an informed and concerned citizen I sincerely request that you thoroughly and honestly review this case and toward this end I hereby submit the following information for your consideration.

While the basis for the current motion is purely jurisdictional, you may also wish to review the overwhelming evidence of Mr. Peltier’s innocence as well as his vast humanitarian achievements in order to fully grasp the enormous miscarriage of justice that is Mr. Peltier’s thirty years of imprisonment.

Leonard Peltier is a citizen of the Anishinabe and Dakota/Lakota Nations and the crimes for which he has been wrongfully convicted took place within the sovereign nation of Lakota. I do not need to point out that due to the sovereignty of the Lakota Nation, aside from the Indian Crimes Act, there is no legal or constitutional jurisdiction in existance under which Mr. Pletier can have been tried. Consequently, it is purely a matter of upholding the law that Mr. Peltier’s conviction be overturned.

Not only did the alleged crimes take place outside of “the special maritime [or] territorial jurisdiction of the United States”, but evidence clearly demonstrates that Mr. Peltier was not only wrongfully convicted, but intentionally and malisciously framed for crimes which he did not commit.

As late as November, 2003, the United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that much of the government’s behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and in its prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned. In Peltier’s original trial in has been shown that the FBI, the prosecution, and the court violated U.S., tribal, and international law:

1. By using a false affidavit from an incompetent witness to obtain Mr. Peltier’s extradition from Canada.
2. By the withholding of critical evidence including tens of thousands of FBI documents on Mr. Peltier’s case.
3. By fabricating evidence, including the ballistics evidence that was used to convict Mr. Peltier.
4. By intimidating witnesses, even going so far as to threaten the lives of the children of one mentally handicapped key witness who neither knew Mr. Peltier nor was present at the scene of the crimes for which he was convicted.
5. By hand picking the trial judge.
6. By prejudicing the jury against the American Indian Movement, in general, and Mr. Peltier in particular.
7. By banning key witnesses from testifying about FBI misconduct on the Pine Ridge Reservation, a sovereign nation for which the FBI has no legal jurisdiction.
8. By ruling important evidence, such as conflicting ballistics reports inadmissible.
9. By failing to produce a single witness who could identify Peltier as the shooter.
10. By concealing compelling evidence against several other suspects.
11. By lying about the nature of the investigation the FBI agents in question were alleged to be engaged in at the time of the shootings.
12. By selecting an all white jury of non-Lakotas in a non-Lakota court, thus violating Mr. Peltier’s right to trial by a jury of his own peers.

If you research these matters you will find that these facts are indisputable. I am far from alone in my belief in Mr. Peltier’s innocence and my request that he be set free. Among those convinced of Peltier’s innocence you will find such notables as:

1. Amnesty International, which has long called for Leonard Peltier’s immediate release on the grounds that Peltier does not have adequate recourse to justice and was not given a fair trail.
2. European Parliament, which in 1999 approved a resolution calling for Mr. Peltier’s release.
3. Queen Elizabeth of England, who has declared her belief in Peltier’s innocence.
4. The Reverend Desmond Tutu, who has demanded the release of Peltier, whom he considers to be a political prisoner akin to Nelson Mandela.

I humbly request that you carefully review the nexus of U.S. and Lakota constitutional law regarding the matter of tribal sovereignty and consider the ample evidence of Leonard Peltier’s innocence in making your ruling. If Mr. Peltier’s conviction can be overturned on sovereign nation grounds, then perhaps he can be granted a new trial in which all of the evidence can be presented, thus proving to the world Peltier’s innocence. You have an innocent man’s life in your hands and the power to correct a gross miscarriage of justice. Please do the right thing.

Abel Ashes

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