Category Archives: Sick Sad World

Justice for Anthony Dansbury

Anthony Dansberry is serving a seventy-five-year sentence for a robbery and murder he didn’t commit. He has already served twenty-two years for the crime, the snatching of an elderly woman’s purse that resulted in the woman’s death four months later as result of injuries she suffered when the attacker knocked her to the ground. Because there is no physical evidence for DNA testing, Anthony’s best hope of being released is clemency from Governor Quinn.

Please urge Governor Quinn to exercise his clemency power and release Anthony.

Anthony was twenty-seven at the time of his arrest and had no criminal record or history of violence. He was convicted based on shaky identification evidence and a typed confession that he signed under the mistaken belief that the papers would secure his release. Four eyewitnesses viewed a lineup that included Anthony, and only one witness picked him. That witness had previously viewed Anthony’s photo in a photo array. One of the other witnesses said that Anthony was definitely not the perpetrator, and another selected a different person from the lineup. Additionally, his palmprint did not match a palmprint found on the hood of a car that the attacker touched while fleeing the scene.

Anthony has a low IQ and the reading comprehension of a first grader. His “confession” uses words like “viaduct” and “southbound,” which are not in his vocabulary. Anthony has always maintained that he was told that the papers he signed were for his release. His aunt corroborated his account, saying that he told her after his arrest that he had signed “release papers.”

The Center on Wrongful Convictions, which is representing Anthony, has produced a short video about his case here.

The end of the year is when most lawmakers exercise their clemency power. Please take just a few minutes to urge Gov. Quinn to right this injustice and bring Anthony come home for the holidays.

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Outside Spending Floods Judicial Elections at Record Levels

U.S. Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C. ...

U.S. Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C. (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

Special-interest groups and political parties spent an unprecedented $24.1 million on television ads and election materials in state court races in 2011-2012, according to a new report by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Justice at Stake, and the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

The report, The New Politics of Judicial Elections 2011-12: How New Waves of Special Interest Spending Raised the Stakes for Fair Courts, provides a comprehensive look at 2011-2012 state Supreme Court elections. In the first election cycle since Citizens United, independent spending helped fuel the costliest election cycle for TV spending in judicial election history and posed new threats to fair and impartial justice.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Non-candidate groups (including political parties) pumped in 43% of all funds spent on state high court elections, compared to 22% in the last presidential election cycle. Super PACs and other outside groups funneled big spending into some state judicial elections for the first time.
  • 35% of all funds spent on state high court races came from ten deep-pocketed special interest groups and political parties, compared to 21%, coming from the top ten “super spenders” in 2007-08.
  • A record $33.7 million was spent on Supreme Court campaign TV ads, far exceeding the previous record of $26.6 million in 2007-08. Negative TV ads aired in at least ten states.
  • National politics invaded judicial races in 2011-12. In Iowa, TV ads referenced marriage equality; in Florida, the federal Affordable Care Act; and in Wisconsin, collective bargaining rights.

The report also found legislative attacks on merit-based systems for judge selection, including anti-retention campaigns in Florida and Iowa. Florida experienced record spending by all sides when three state Supreme Court justices stood for retention. On Election Day 2012, however, voters retained the three Florida justices and a challenged justice in Iowa. Voters also rejected ballot measures in three states to give politicians more power over the courts.

The report warns of future attacks on reforms designed to protect fair courts and harmful spending trends. According to the report, “Perhaps most disturbing of all, … is that while independent spending on state court races ballooned in 2011–12, it still has room to grow. …[F]uture years may see an even greater expansion in independent spending by interest groups and parties in judicial elections.”

The New Politics of Judicial Elections reports, produced biennially, have monitored election spending and other threats to the impartiality of state courts since 2000.

Read the New Politics report here.

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Filed under National, Politics, Sick Sad World

Cruz Leads Tea Party Group with Confederate Flags to White House

At yesterday’s rally led by Senator Ted Cruz, Tea Party activists marched to the White House with Confederate flags in hand. It’s downright inexcusable.

Since last night, over 200,000 have signed a petition calling on Ted Cruz to denounce these disgusting acts of Tea Party extremism.

Sign the petition immediately demanding Ted Cruz and Tea Party Congressmen denounce these heinous acts.



Filed under Everyone's a Little Bit Racist, Politics, Sick Sad World

John Boehner Is Afraid to Stand Up to Tea Party

John Boehner - Caricature

John Boehner – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

John Boehner can end the shutdown any time he wants. He could have a bill on President Obama’s desk in the course of an afternoon, but he won’t step up.

That’s because he’s afraid of challenging the most extreme voices in his caucus.

We need to make sure that those aren’t the only voices the Speaker is hearing.

Tell Speaker Boehner to get the government up and running today.

If Speaker Boehner brought a clean bill to fund the federal government to the floor – without any of the nonsense about defunding Obamacare – it would pass in a bipartisan vote.

Every day that goes by, more Republicans are starting to say exactly the same thing: It’s time for John Boehner to do his job and listen to the American people.


Filed under Economy, Health, National, Politics, Sick Sad World

Sandy Hook Mother Praises Teachers of America

English: Ruby Lee Strickland, AVID teacher at ...

English: Ruby Lee Strickland, AVID teacher at Faith Middle School, helps Cassandra Unrein fill out the demographics sheet for the PSAT Tuesday. This is the first time Faith eighth-graders have had the opportunity to take the PSAT. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The mother of one of the victims of last year’s Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has written a letter to the teachers of America. Nebla Marquez-Green had two children attending Sandy Hook Elementary. Her daughter, six-year-old Ana Grace, was killed in the massacre. Her son was uninjured.

Her letter, posted on the Education Week website is powerful, gut-wrenching, and encouraging all in one.

As another school year begins and old routines settle back into place, I wanted to share my story in honor of the teachers everywhere who care for our children.

I lost my 6-year-old daughter Ana Grace on Dec. 14, 2012, in the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School. My son, who was in the building and heard the shooting, survived.

While waiting in the firehouse that day to hear the official news that our daughter was dead, my husband and I made promises to ourselves, to each other, and to our son. We promised to face the future with courage, faith, and love.

As teachers and school employees begin this new year, my wish for you is that same courage, faith, and love.

It takes guts to be a teacher. Six brave women gave their lives trying to protect their students at Sandy Hook. Other teachers were forced to run from the building, stepping over the bodies of their friends and colleagues, and they came right back to work.

When I asked my son’s teacher why she returned, she responded, “Because they are my kids. And my students need me now more than ever.” She sent daily updates on my son’s progress, from his behavior to what he’d eaten for lunch. And four months later, when my son finally smiled one day after school, I asked him about it. His response? “Mom. My teacher is so funny. I had an epic day.”

While I pray you will never find yourself in the position of the teachers at Sandy Hook, your courage will support students like my son, who have lived through traumas no child should have to.

Your courage will support students who are left out and overlooked, like the isolated young man who killed my daughter. At some point he was a young, impressionable student, often sitting all alone at school. You will have kids facing long odds for whom your smile, your encouraging word, and your willingness to go the extra mile will provide the comfort and security they need to try again tomorrow.

When you Google “hero,” there should be a picture of a principal, a school lunch worker, a custodian, a reading specialist, a teacher, or a bus monitor. Real heroes don’t wear capes. They work in America’s schools.

Being courageous requires faith. It took faith to go back to work at Sandy Hook after the shooting. Nobody had the answers or knew what would come tomorrow, but they just kept going. Every opportunity you have to create welcoming environments in our schools where parents and students feel connected counts.

Have faith that your hard work is having a profound impact on your students. Of the 15,000 personal letters I received after the shooting, only one stays at my bedside. It’s from my high school English teacher, Robert Buckley.

But you can’t be courageous or step out on faith without a deep love for what you do.

Parents are sending their precious children to you this fall. Some will come fully prepared, and others not. They will come fed and with empty bellies. They will come from intact homes and fractured ones. Love them all.

When my son returned to school in January, I thought I was going to lose my mind. Imagine the difficulty in sending your surviving child into a classroom when you lost your baby in a school shooting. We sent him because we didn’t want him to be afraid.

 We sent him because we wanted him to understand that while our lives would never be the same, our lives still needed to move forward.

According to the 2011-12 National Survey of Children’s Health, nearly half of America’s children will have suffered at least one childhood trauma before the age of 18. They need your love.

A few weeks before the shooting, Ana Grace and I shared a special morning. Lunches were packed and clothes were picked out the night before, so we had extra time to snuggle. And while I lay in bed with my beautiful caramel princess, she sensed that I was distracted and asked, “What’s the matter, Mom?” I remember saying to her, “Nothing, baby. It’s just work.” She looked at me for a very long time with a thoughtful stare, then she told me, “Don’t let them suck your fun circuits dry, Mom.”

As you begin this school year, remember Ana Grace. Walk with courage, with faith, and with love. And don’t let them suck your fun circuits dry.

Via MyChannel957.

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Zimmerman’s Lawyer: “Pay Me”

Anderson Cooper visited Wolfson Children's Hos...

Anderson Cooper visited Wolfson Children’s Hospital. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In an interview on Tuesday, George Zimmerman‘s attorney, Mark O’Mara, told ABC News that he would no longer be representing Zimmerman. That isn’t surprising, considering that Zimmerman was almost arrested outside of the home of his estranged wife earlier in the week for an alleged domestic violence incident. While some media sites claim that the police stated Zimmerman didn’t have a gun, these reports, according to Zimmermans’s own attorney, are false. In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, O’Mara said that Zimmerman was in possession of a weapon when he went to his wife’s home.

O’Mara may not have dropped Zimmerman because of his tendency to get into trouble with the law. During the ABC interview, when O’Mara was asked if he had any advice for his former client, he said this: “Pay me.”

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, Sick Sad World

Trayvon Martin Medical Examiner Says Prosecution Threw Case

Dr. Shiping Bao, the Medical Examiner who performed Trayvon Martin’s autopsy, is claiming that the prosecution ignored evidence in the case, due to a belief that Zimmerman was in the right. Bao is suing the state for $100 million in a wrongful termination case, after being fired over disagreements about the investigation.

He says the ME’s office, the State Attorney’s office, and the Sanford Police were biased against Martin and believed that he “got what he deserved.”

Dr. Bao says that the autopsy he performed on Trayvon Martin proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there was no possible way that Martin had been on top of George Zimmerman when the shooting took place. However, that evidence was hushed away, and Bao was told to keep his mouth shut. During the trial, the prosecution declined to question him about the scientific evidence about how Martin and Zimmerman were positioned during the altercation.

The State’s Attorney’s office denies Bao’s claims. 

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