Dec. 12, 2010 Support Eric
On Wednesday, December 8, the 9th circuit court of appeals denied Eric's
request for a rehearing en banc. This means, in theory, that 11 judges
reviewed Eric's petition for a rehearing and not a single one of them
found any merit in the arguments detailed within. After nearly 5 years of
political maneuvering on the part of the government and a complete and
total lack of any sanity or logic in the court's decisions, this came as
no surprise to Eric and his loved ones.
However, that fact does not lessen the blow of this cruel decision by the
9th circuit. This was, in effect, Eric's last available option in the
appeals process (other than appealing to the extremely conservative
supreme court). Hope has proven to be a fleeting, evasive creature
throughout this whole process. Many of us knew better than to fall for its
seductive overtures. But hearts are so often blind to what our minds know
to be truth – even when we knew what the outcome would be, our hearts had
trouble letting go. We wanted Eric out here, with us. Free to wander in
ancient forests, to play in the swirling, roaring ocean. To live outside a
cage. But now, whatever traces of hope may have remained have been
scattered in the wind.
For some of us, our biggest mistake was believing that we ever had any
options in the first place. It became all too easy to fall into their trap
of successive illusory next-chances. Every time we lost bail, or a motion,
or trial, or at sentencing, or at the appeal... there was always something
waiting in the queue that could possibly save us from our imminent hell.
But the state created that queue – not us. And it was set up to keep us on
the hook – to keep us invested in a system (a system that many of us never
believed in to begin with) that would never deliver what we most wanted =
our friend, uncaged. As long as we believed that something might change
somewhere on down the line, we had to keep putting time and energy into
this behemoth of injustice.
When the panel for oral arguments on Eric's appeal was announced we
immediately did some homework to figure out what we would be facing on
August 9th. What we found was less than inspiring. Two of the judges were
Bush (junior) nominees. One of the three was described as a legal
conservative, who pursues a “tough on crime” approach. Another was
mentioned in a 1998 review of local judges reported by the San Francisco
Examiner. A poll of area attorneys rated him among the five worst judges
among the 49 judges named. One experienced female attorney described Bea's
attitude as "condescending and biased against women attorneys." He is also
a member of the San Francisco chapter of the Federalist Society.
But most alarming of all was an article we dredged up on Consuelo Callahan
which indicated that she and Judge Morrison England – the trial judge in
Eric's case – were buddies. This was later confirmed by a lawyer who works
in the Sacramento Federal Courts. Just in case you missed the significance
of that – one of the judges who would be deciding Eric's appeal, which
would mean reversing the decision/s of the lower court, is friends with
the very person who made those rulings to begin with. For a judge, having
your decisions reversed is perhaps the worst kind of embarrassment. But
surely Eric's fate wouldn't be decided by the rules of social etiquette?
Perhaps no one will ever know what actually went on behind closed doors
(maybe we'll see it on wikileaks one day), but their written decision
reflected nothing that had taken place during the oral arguments and was
clearly written before they even occurred.
And so, by the time we arrived at the en banc process, most of us (Eric
first among us) had absolutely no expectations that this would go in our
favor. If anything, the court's decision is an affirmation of what we have
known to be true all along. The “justice system” works only for the
interests of it's creators. If it starts to falter in it's mission, it
gets fine tuned (i.e. laws and rules get rewritten) to put it back on the
People keep asking: what next? The truth is, there is no more next – at
least not in the sense that most people mean. That is the trap we have
been falling into all along. That question is misplaced and misdirected.
It shouldn't refer to some obscure legal option, but instead it should
refer to what we do as individuals and as a movement, as a community, to
make things better and to move forward. We - not the state - should define
Eric has been held captive by the state for almost 5 years, now. He has
known, more than any of us, what “next” really means. Next means right
now. Next means making a life for himself in the middle of a storm. He has
always created his own definitions. He has been moving forward all along.
And so, his struggle continues.
Eric would like to send his sincerest thanks to all of you. You have been
instrumental in this fight. Your letters, your songs, your donations, your
words of encouragement have kept Eric and his loved ones inspired and
strong. Keep it coming! Eric has a long road ahead of him, but with your
love and support he will press on. He remains strong in heart and mind.
And he knows that dreams can never be caged.
Sacramento Prisoner Support