What About Josh?
100 Fifth Avenue, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10011
Dear Mr. Scheck,
Let me start off by saying what a truly great thing it is, that you and your organization’s efforts are doing to improve the justice system in this country.
I am writing you about the Joshua Stump case. I hope you can help. I have been involved in my stepson’s case since 2001. In 2003 and 2006 a series of events occurred that made me think the injustice that took place in this case would be corrected. However the blind fold of justice became thicker and the corrections never came.
On July 15, 1995 , approximately around 1:30 A.M., Joshua Stump at the age of 17, failed to persuade a friend of his, Robert Anderson (also 17) from returning back to rural residence and committing a crime that unbeknownst to Josh would not only follow through, it would turn deadly.
As Robert Anderson did not survive the confrontation, Law Enforcement would arrest Josh some 10 miles away at a friend’s house. As Josh (unaware of the deadly conclusion at the residence), waited for Robert to arrive some sixteen hours later and arrested Josh for First Degree Murder.
For the next nine months to follow, Josh would be subject to solitary confinement, psychological abuse and a politically motivated pre re-election media frenzy.
The Preliminary Judge holds the case over for trial even though the only surviving witness stated that, “Only one boy came back”, which was obviously the dead boy (Robert Anderson) at the crime scene, thereby bringing in the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System (OIDS) to lead the defense.
The Initial court appointed Defense Attorney David Ball, after being dumfounded that it was held over, was surprised again, to find out that he was replaced rather then be assigned to assist the OIDS designated Lead Attorney Jim Rowan.
March 13th 1996. Josh was brought up from the county jail because the statue of limitations for a speedy trial were coming to an end and if he still wanted to continue he would have to waive his rights to said issue. While Josh was in a holding pen, where he could not hear, Jim Rowan, the D.A. and the Judge discuss the facts regarding the Continuance to be filed. Things like three of the evidence specialist had already reported in Josh’s favor, the OIDS was out of funds and the rest of the specialist were reluctant to reveal their findings because of said financial condition. Also there were no funds available to take this to Jury trial ($5000.00). I have the transcripts.
Josh was finally brought in the court room. He was simply told that his Defense team did not have the evidence ready and if he really wanted to take this to Jury trial around July 22nd 1996 (maybe), he would have the waive his rights to a speedy trial and file the continuance, which he did. The Continuance was granted.
Two weeks later Josh received a visit from his Lead Attorney Jim Rowan. Under the cloak of attorney– client privilege, he told Josh that the old man’s testimony was going to get him the death penalty. That the only way he could live was to take the D.A.s offer of second degree murder, 75 yr plea bargain and that he would only do 7 to 9 yrs. If he did not take it they would kill him for murder one and for contributing to his friend’s death as well. Jim Rowan withheld the favorable specialist reports, the OIDS financial status and was incorrect about the rest. Josh finally gave in to these “Mystic River” Techniques and reluctantly accepted the deal.
On April 25th 1996, Josh’s charge was amended from First Degree Murder to Second Degree Murder. He signed the papers of the plea bargain and answered Judge’s generic plea bargain question as directed by his council before he walked into the courtroom. He was returned back to his cell, where he sat until he was processed to the prison facilities and start serving his sentence.
I apologize for dragging this out, to me I would have to say that the State made this as complicated and intertwining as possible to detour anybody with a short attention span from digging too deep. I will try to stay on a summary format and not rant.
In July 2001, I read the court papers, after I found out that I had misunderstood Josh’s sister-in-law about Josh getting 5 years for car theft. I went through all of the Court’s mumbo jumbo and when I read the “Continuance” (Listed as Legal Documentation on the website) followed by the Amended Second Degree Felony and Plea Bargain. I raised my head and said what gives? Then, it hit me.
Now we pick up the pace. In August 2001, I visited Josh where I asked him why he changed his mind after waving his speedy trial rights and getting the continuance granted. He then told me of Jim Rowan’s Post Continuance Visit. I had him repeat and there was virtually no change. I saw the look on his face when I told him about the specialist reports, the OIDS financial status. He was unaware of that information until then.
Being short of funds in 2001, like the OIDS was in 1996, we utilize communications to lawmakers, executive branch and media. (“Who Has Seen This” and various letters on the website).
In 2004 we retained an attorney with appellate experience, Mike Arnett out of Oklahoma City. He began the procedures.
On March 1st 2004 The Twenty Third District Court in Oklahoma denied Josh’s Post-Conviction Relief.
On April 16th 2004 The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals denied him and upheld the Twenty Third District Court’s ruling.
On July 16th 2004 The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed the Motion for reconsideration.
On April 11th 2005 an Order of Referral to a United States Magistrate Judge was issue after filing in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.
On May 6th 2005 is directed to show cause by U.S. Magistrate Judge.
June 16th 2005 United States District Judge dismissed writ of habeas corpus Based on Magistrate Judge’s report as being time barred.
On April 11th I flew to Denver, Colorado, where I spent the next three days sitting in on college mock trials at all the courtrooms in the Tenth District Court of Appeals, wearing a “What About Josh?” T-Shirt. I answered mostly the same question a hundred times and told a brief summary of Josh’s dilemma about fifty times.
On May 19th 2006 the U.S. Tenth District Court of Appeals issue A Certificate of Appeal ability
On June 19th 2006, Joshua’s attorney submitted a Supplemental Brief of Petitioner / Appellant to The U.S. Tenth District Court of Appeals.
On July 13th 2006, Joshua’s attorney submitted a Supplemental Brief of Petitioner / Appellant to the U.S. Tenth District Court of Appeals.
On July 13th 2006 the Attorney General of Oklahoma, filed a Respondent/Appealer’s Motion for Reconsideration of Certificate of Appeal ability and briefing in This Court with the U.S. Tenth District Court of Appeals.
On October 18th 2006, I drove to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Where I spent the day in the US. Magistrate Judge’s Courtroom, wearing “What About Josh? T-Shirt. While I was at the lunch, the U.S. Marshall’s Office hit Josh’s website 6 times. When I came back the U.S. marshal tried to persuade me not to stay for twenty minutes. He finally gave, laid some new rules on me, (keep my jacket zipped up) and let me go back in the courtroom. When court ended that afternoon, I stood up to leave and found out that there were U.S. Marshals sitting on both sides of me on the berth I was on, Two in the berth behind me and two FBI agents in front of me. They had turned up the heat and were ready to jump into action, if I happened to unzip my jacket. Had they known what I do for a living (run cables in attics even in summer, they might not have gone through the trouble. That info is not on the website. I found it a bit humorous watching a lot of people take turns leaving the courtroom to cool off. The U.S. Marshall’s office hit the website two more times after I left for Texas.
I will admit that I was hoping that the Magistrate Judge would recall the letter that I sent her back when I thought she was no longer involved and not file the same erroneous report. She did anyway, in 2007.
Also in 2007 the Western District Oklahoma Judge would take this sweet time processing and we would not get it back to the Tenth District Court of Appeals until 2008.
Economics kept me from following the filing, to the Tenth District Court in Denver solely to remind the Justices of the website’s discovery potential.
On April 2nd 2008, The tenth District Court of Appeals Denied Josh his appeal. This time the chief Justice was in on the ruling, making filing misconduct claim futile. Thus making it clear to us that discovery is not as concerning to the Justice as their handicap on the golf course or their favorite fishing fly.
For the record Joshua’s DNA was not found on or in or at the crime scene, unlike Robert who had returned solo.
Josh’s Attorney advises me that we can go no further in the judicial system. That going to the Law Makers, Indigent defense systems, Oklahoma Governor and the United States President in 2001, does not constitute Josh raising the issue in a timely manner. Because we could not afford to get it filed in court until 2004, is why the courts say it is out of time. So does that mean it is okay for the state of Oklahoma and the OIDS, to be out of funds, and deny someone of their constitutional rights in 1996?
If Joshua, can resist the cell phone temptation that has been spreading through out the prison systems in the country. He might make Parole some year.
Joshua’s Mother has been diagnosed with Lupus so this some year has me concerned.
What else can be done? I understand from your staff that out of 244 DNA reversal cases you and your group have handled, 18 of them were plea bargains. That reinforces my argument with the Oklahoma Governor’s Liaison about a plea bargain not always being a guaranteed confession of guilt, back in 2001.
This letter was confirmed delivered on 10-28-09, along with a “What About Josh” T-Shirt. The Office manager who signed for it told us, over the phone, he thought it would get process in two or three weeks. After four weeks we called back and the receptionist told us, that time frame was wrong and it was taking more like four to six weeks to process. After eight weeks we were told by another receptionist that there was no time frame. We sent everybody on the staff a different individual letter, which a later phone call to a member on the list, revealed he did not remember it. To this date we have yet to hear from them.