State Office Building
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015 from noon-1pm
@State Office Building
On August 4 the Michigan Court of Appeals denied bond pending appeal to the Rev. Edward Pinkney. Two of the three judge panel ruled against the bond request. The decision was issued as a one sentence response to a motion filed by Tim Holloway, Rev. Pinkney’s attorney, which included a thorough brief spanning 42 pages. Rev. Pinkney was charged in 2014 with allegedly altering five dates on a recall petition against Benton Harbor’s mayor. A community leader in the overwhelmingly African American city, Pinkney was tried and convicted before a white judge, white prosecutor and all-white jury. He was sentenced to 2.5 to 10 years in prison on December 15, 2014. The jury had been told “you do not need evidence to convict Rev. Pinkney” and the judge said he was “going to make an example” of him. Rev. Pinkney’s brief showed that he would most probably win his appeal when it is finally heard in the coming months. In addition to Rev. Pinkney’s community service and the non-violent nature of the charges there were blatant constitutional violations of Pinkney’s rights. Prosecutor Sepic hammered all witnesses demanding to know who chaired meetings, who spoke at rallies and who was the press spokesperson for the recall campaign. These constitutionally protected freedoms of speech and assembly issues were used to prejudice the jury against Pinkney. Finally the only evidence offered against Rev. Pinkney was the fact that he led the recall campaign and therefore should be presumed to be the guilty party. Prosecutor Sepic had made only one argument in his answer to the defendant’s exhaustive brief. He argued that the Court of Appeals could not grant bond pending appeal unless the lower court had “abused its discretion in denying bond.” On August 11 a motion for reconsideration was file to the Court of Appeals. Since no explanation by the Appeals Court accompanied their denial, the motion argued that “a palpable error occurred if the Court of Appeals accepted the prosecution’s argument...” Case law was cited that the Appeals Court had its “own independent judgement and the exercise of its own discretion as to whether bond should be granted” and that “the failure to exercise discretion when called on to do so constitutes an abdication and hence an abuse of discretion” by the Court of Appeals. Supporters of Rev. Pinkney will organize a protest and press conference outside the Michigan Court of Appeals in Grand Rapids at noon on August 26.