Because of both the passage of time and the extensive record development since the original 2255 motion was files, I believe it appropriate to summarize the arguments and evidence now before the district court. FLA – Case Summary Memorandum
Belated letter, such delays are part of prison life.
On this Christmas Eve, I am reflecting on what I miss most about being free: spending the holiday evening at a movie with Claire and my children; opening gifts when we got home. The next morning we had a tradition, the kids and I would go to Waffle House. We started this one Christmas in Atlanta. Our apartment was iced-in, so my “baby” girl of three, my step son of eight, and I walked nearly a mile to the Waffle House and played Christmas songs on the jukebox. In one form or another we carried on the tradition each Christmas thereafter; this I miss terribly.
This Christmas however is different. On this holiday, I helped ensured that a fully grown man gets treatment for his fingers, tomorrow a dozen gentlemen (65 to 84) will begin a journey that should result in their “compassionate release” from prison next year. These men have lost more than 10 Christmases’ to prison and as I am demonstrating now some for conduct they did not commit and others far past this punishment serving any rational purpose—even retribution. Last year I sent an email about describing what I had done [statistically], that information will soon be on FrankAmodeo.com and on the news wires. This year my message is different. During the last year four deaths occurred, deaths which impacted me in various ways. The people were Bob Strickland, Hector Miguelez, Randy Gold, and Jake Waldrop. Two convicts and two lawyers.
Hector was serving a life sentence for crimes in the State of Florida, he was here because he was Cuban and under threat of deportation. He had been imprisoned for 30 years and wanted nothing more than to be able to return to Cuba and see his aged mother once more. For two years, we appeared to have Hector ready for parole and deportation. One administrative mistake after another prevented is approved release from happening. After more than 25 years in prison, Hector died of cancer.
Like Hector, Bob Strickland died last year, but Bob died right in the middle of my showing that 20 years ago two courts, five judges and half a dozen attorneys were wrong about how to apply the law to the facts. That error added a mandatory 30 years to Bob’s sentence. Only this year, did I find a path in the post-conviction procedural maze which gave us a possible forum. The weekend that happened Bob went to the hospital, he never come back. He never had his day in court and he was erroneously sentenced. If not for the mistake, he would have been free 12 years before he died. God will undoubtedly make this tragedy right, but that does not justify our creating it in the first place.
Late this summer I learned that the prosecutor in my case had died. Surprising to my fellow inmates, I was not happy that Randy died, first and foremost because it is not for me to decide whether someone lives or dies. Plus, as far as I know, Randy and I were still on a first name basis; I would have been calling as a witness in my habeas action. Mostly though my disappointment was about an off-record discussion I intended I think he actually cared about the law, he seemed like an honest prosecutor and, to the extent of my knowledge, had more integrity than most people and attorneys. Against that backdrop, I was interested in how he would react when a credible voice presented him insight about the justice system that he sorely lacked. There will be others, but unfortunately those conversations will be without the context derived in many conversations that two of us had outside his offices. I am saddened that he is not present. I believe he would have embraced the coming storm; in hopes of returning law to the philosophers.
Another believer, an attorney—who I did not know as well but expected to have an equal intimate conversation with— also died, Jake Waldrop. He my served as my public defender in my earlier criminal case. His response to the probation officer’s comment about the virtually unanimous perception of my “legal brilliance”, even from the so-called victims, was to tell my wife that I had a fatal flaw. A perception, I now suspect arose as much from his instinct as from the psychiatric examination conducted at the pre-trial probation officers urging. I have never seen the results of that examination, but I really wonder what Jake was thinking when he told my wife that regardless of my intellect I had a “fatal flaw”. Jake’s death by suicide, likely caused by a change in medication, tells me now Jake’s comment may have been as much from personal empathy as objective analysis. I will always wonder, but he went from ponytail to crew cut, wherever he is now, he was zealous (if overwhelmed) advocate for the pathetic and poor–more like him are needed. Sometime in 2015, I hope I can win one of his last federal cases for his memory and of course for his client.
I would have liked for him to have seen, that contrary to his belief (fear), I embraced that fatal flow, gained control of it, and channeled it, so that next time that flaw will not tarnish my efforts. Thereby, sending a resounding message that there is no obstacle that a faith-enhanced, determined individual cannot overcome.
Hopefully, next year I will speak with you from a different venue and can herald a better world for us individually and collectively.
Salutations, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.
Frank L. Amodeo
2013 Year End Letter-Belated letter
Just heard the government has conceded in the Jason Lowery’s and agreed to his immediate release.
This the second in two weeks and the third in 2 months; 6 more are pending and should be resolved favorably in the next couple of months. The cool thing is that my students are helping with some of these cases: Brian helped on Chrisco and Charlie helped on Lowery.
As this year comes to end and I take stock of my 41 months at Coleman; I cannot help but empathize with the feeling of helpless and powerlessness that pervades the prisoners and the staff. It is a sad commentary on not only our legal system, but on our nation and civilization. These however are thoughts and comments for the future. As it stands, I and my students have assisted nearly 1800 inmates lowering over 200 sentences through one means or another. Including a few wins on direct appeal and 30 wins in §2255. I am hopeful next year will be my last year here, as rulings in my case these last two weeks seem to indicate that affidavits from my various attorneys will be sufficient to support vacatur of the criminal conviction. Then, I will get a chance to take the case to trial.
I am trying to allow more time in the next year to write about my experiences, and the ideas and wisdom gained from them. Please, comment at will. And examine the websites, which report developments in my cases and the cases in which I assist. You can reach those via FrankAmodeo.com.
I received notice that on Nov. 30th, in the case of Jose Casiano-Jiminez, the First Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the Puerto Rican district court’s denial of Mr. Casiano’s §2255 and has returned the matter to the district court with instructions to permit Mr. Casiano’s testimony and evidence of factual innocence. This should lead to a new trial and dismissal of the charges. At worst Mr. Casiano can return home a decade early. His is the first of the Marine Drug Law Enforcement Act cases in which I have been able to get ruling. More are coming. This case was commenced in the summer of 2010, we lost before the magistrate, we lost before the district court, we lost on reconsideration, we won a certificate of appealability, were able to get counsel appointed to handle appellate briefing and oral arguments, and now success. A couple more rounds to victory. The wheels of justice do grind slowly.
Frank Louis Amodeo was imprisoned at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex (low) in July 2009. Originally, he thought he was one of a few people wrongly convicted or improperly sentence. Soon, he learned the prison was filled with people whose convictions were riddled with mistakes and injustice.
After 15,000 hours of practice and study Mr. Amodeo has had a small measure of success in restoring fairness and integrity to the administration of criminal justice. He has assisted more than 1,200 inmates on over 1,800 matters during his 3-years of imprisonment.
Through one procedure or another Mr. Amodeo has corrected more than 120 sentences, eliminating more than 225 years of unneeded incarceration and saving the taxpayers more than 12 million dollars in incarceration costs and legal expenses.