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Bob Shell: The Wheels of Justice

Bob Shell: The Wheels of Justice

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2020

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The Wheels of Justice

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Early this year, I filed an ‘Independent Action to Vacate for Fraud on the Court, to get my false convictions overturned.

It took me more than three years to do the legal research and write this Independent Action. An Independent Action is like a Motion with more chutzpah. They are used to effect some action by a court, in this case to vacate my convictions. I identified five different frauds that the Commonwealth (Virginia is a Commonwealth) committed against me, documented in detail.

The most significant frauds were false testimony given by the Commonwealth’s main witnesses, false testimony without which the jury would never have believed the allegations against me, and I could never have been convicted.

The judge in Radford just sat on my Independent Action, refusing to rule on it, which prevented me from appealing to the Virginia Supreme Court, what I’ve wanted all along.

His refusal to act was a violation of the Canons Of Judicial Conduct, the rules judges are supposed to follow, and require prompt response to filings.

After waiting months with no ruling on my action, I petitioned the Virginia Supreme Court to issue a Writ of Mandamus against the judge. A Writ of Mandamus is a legal instrument forcing a judge to act, when he should act, but doesn’t.

In response to my petition, the Virginia Supreme Court issued a ‘Show Cause’ order against the judge, ordering him to rule on my action, or show cause why he couldn’t or shouldn’t, by November 15. Instead of responding to the ‘Show Cause’ order, he wrote an overdue order denying my Independent Action, to forestall the Virginia Supreme Court from coming down on him over nonresponse to their ‘Show Cause’ order.

But, and here is the truly astounding part of this judicial Odyssey. He wrote the order citing the correct case number, but denying the WRONG case!

His order denies an ‘Independent Action for Violation of Speedy Trial,’ a totally different case filed a year earlier and that he already denied, and which has nothing to do with my action for fraud, which doesn’t even mention speedy trial!. Incompetence of this level is hard to believe!

I have asked the Virginia Supreme Court to come down hard on him for this. This is my life at stake, and he couldn’t even be bothered to act on the right case!

Right now, we are under a State of Judicial Emergency declared by the Virginia Supreme Court, meaning that courts are operating at the bare minimum, and all VDOC law libraries are closed. I can’t do the research and appeal anything right now. Once the Judicial Emergency is over, I’ll have 90 days to appeal the judge’s denial of my speedy trial action, and take whatever action the Virginia Supreme Court decides is appropriate in this judicial SNAFU over my fraud case. What they will do is anybody’s guess.

My guess is that they will order the judge to go back and act on the right case, even though he clearly missed their deadline to respond to their ‘Show Cause’ order.

I’ve tried repeatedly to get an order to depose the Commonwealth’s Chief Medical Examiner, who says the medical testimony used to convict me was, “Just wrong!” but the same judge has blocked my efforts to get the Chief ME’s testimony on the record. The Chief ME even volunteered to be deposed and forego his usual fee, but without a judge’s cooperation I can’t have a deposition done.

It’s plain to anyone who looks at the evidence that I was wrongly convicted, but the judge and prosecutor don’t want to admit that they sent an innocent man to prison for an extraordinarily long sentence, so my efforts to set the record straight have been blocked.

A friend recently asked me how I’ve managed to keep my spirits up. The answer is that I have a clear conscience, because I did none of the things I was accused of. In my own mind, I know the truth, and nothing will ever change that.

My other legal actions are also on hold because of the Judicial Emergency, that doesn’t look to end anytime soon.

My photography studio’s contents are still in storage, waiting for my release. Friends have kept the storage rent paid. If anyone reading this who hasn’t contributed to this cause would like to help, please contact me. Thank you to everyone concerned about my welfare. I’m doing well health wise except for arthritis, which is always worse in cold weather.

Happy Holidays to all!

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read Bob Shell’s, first essay on civil war, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/covid-19-is_holding-me-hostage/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

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Bob Shell: Covid-19 is Holding Me Hostage

Covid-19

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2020
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Covid-19 is Holding Me Hostage
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Our law library here is shut down, except for allowing us to order copies of court cases. But, to know what cases to order we need to use the research computers, and our access to them is blocked until the law library reopens, and before it was closed we’d been restricted to using it only two days a week! These things have blocked any hope for me to get my actions before a court with jurisdiction to hear them any time soon.
COVID-19 is holding me hostage. This is terribly frustrating. I have a more than good chance to have my convictions overturned and regain my freedom, and to get my precious forest land back, if I can just get into court. I’d hoped to be free this year, but the ‘Wuhan Virus’ has nixed any possibility of that.

On another topic, much has been said lately about removing the qualified immunity that police have to lawsuits. I agree that this is a good idea, in fact I believe no one should be above the law, so long as any legislation includes protection from frivolous lawsuits. I know from observing men here in prison that many, if not most, of the lawsuits they file are frivolous — most downright silly. But there is a minority of lawsuits that aren’t frivolous, and legislation must protect and enable those.

I strongly believe that prosecutorial immunity should be removed. The immunity to lawsuits that prosecutors now enjoy in our present system, is a threat to the whole system and our personal freedom.
Contrary to what you may think, prosecutorial immunity is not an old part of our system. Lack of access to research computers has prevented me from determining exactly when it infected our judicial system, but one case states that it was established “long after” the civil rights legislation of the 1960s.

Under current prosecutorial immunity, there is absolutely no protection from false prosecution. I’m a victim, and I’ve met others. Currently, there’s nothing to stop a prosecutor from going after you because she/he doesn’t like your politics, religious beliefs, or just your lifestyle.

I was prosecuted for living my life in a way the prosecution didn’t approve of, although my lifestyle was in no way illegal. As one courtroom observer said after my trial, “But he didn’t do anything illegal!” After my convictions, an attorney present in the courtroom loudly observed, “And who says there’s no railroad service in Radford!”
California Federal Judge Kinser has written, “There is an epidemic of false prosecution abroad in the land today.”

How do we stop this epidemic? The answer is simple, make prosecutors accountable.
Most of you have heard the story of the Duke University lacrosse team, who were falsely charged with sex crimes by an unscrupulous prosecutor named Mike Nifong. Yes, they were eventually cleared, but by that time these young men had seen promising careers evaporate. There is no way to regain those lost years.

I’ve been in prison for over thirteen lost years now, based on events the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia says never happened. I was ‘Nifonged,’ falsely charged and convicted by an unprincipled prosecutor with political ambitions who knew the evidence he produced to convict me was nonsense.
Why am I still in prison? Because the system is weighted against the innocent person.

Courts routinely block attempts to overturn bad convictions, as they’ve blocked me repeatedly. They’ve even denied my attempts to depose the Chief Medical Examiner and get his testimony on the record. In law, anything not on the record doesn’t exist.

So I sit here in a prison cell, counting the days, unable to get the truth before a court that will free me. They say, “The truth will set you free,” but not if you can’t get that truth in front of the right people.

In the Virginia Department of Corrections we’ve been living under a ‘modified lockdown’ since March. We spend twenty or more hours in our cells every day, even eating our meals in our cells. The library, law library, and school are closed. There’s no visitation other than video visitation, which is expensive and frustrating. The video visitation station is in the same room as the law library, and I heard, “can you hear me now?” all the time from people trying to use the system. The VDOC video visitation system is not compatible with Apple phones.

Both the quality and quantity of our food has declined dramatically, and if kind people on the outside didn’t send me money for commissary, I’d go hungry a lot. Even that’s problematic, since commissary has been out of many items lately. For a long time they were out of Ramen noodles, the prison staple, because one of the Maruchan factories was shut down.

The VDOC currently has about 29,000 inmates and an annual budget of one billion dollars. That’s about $ 35,500 per inmate per year. I can’t help wondering where all that money goes. Certainly not into inmate meals!

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read Bob Shell’s, first essay on civil war, click here: https://tonyward.com/bob-shell-things-i-dont-have-to-worry-about/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

Posted in Affiliates, Blog, commentary, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, Health Care, lifestyle, Men, News, Politics, Popular Culture

Bob Shell: Things I Don’t Have to Worry About

Pocahontas State Correctional Institution

 

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2020

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Things I Don’t Have to Worry About

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You folks on the outside don’t know how lucky we are to be in prison. We’ve been on lockdown since March 20, staying in our cells twenty or more hours every day. There’s so many things I don’t have to worry about in prison. Here’s a.partial list:

— When to get up in the morning. I never have to worry about oversleeping, because at 5:30 each and every morning the bright lights come on and an officer screams over the intercom, “Wake up call. Wake up call. Get up and get properly dressed!” We have to do it, because at 6:00 there’s a standing count, where we stand up in our cells and officers count us to make sure no one was abducted from his locked cell by aliens during the night.

— What to wear. I never have to.worry about deciding what to wear. It’s always the same, light blue button-up shirt and bluejeans, plus state issued socks, underwear, and boots. We also have one lightweight jacket for cold weather. Gloves, knit caps, heavy jackets, shoes, we have to buy if we want them.

— Replacing clothes — If anything wears out, I fill out a form and they give me new clothes, and they replace everything automatically once a year. I’m allowed to have four shirts, four pairs of jeans, and four sets of underwear and socks.

— Doing my laundry. I put all my dirty clothes in a mesh laundry bag and they’re picked up Monday and Thursday mornings, washed and sorta dried, and returned in the afternoon.

– What kind of soap to buy — Once a week they give me a brand new little bar of bath soap and a roll of toilet paper. It’s up to me to make both last a week.

— Finding the bathroom at night. If I have to urinate in the night, the toilet is less than six feet from my bunk, three steps away. Of course, that means I’m living in a toilet.

— Picking up my mail. Mail is brought to me and pushed under my door, Monday through Friday, often late at night after lights out when I have to wait until the next day to read it.

— Turning lights on and off. The lights come on at five thirty every morning, are turned on and off all day at purely arbitrary times, then turned off between nine thirty and ten every night. The first prison I was in, from 2008 until 2010, was an old facility that actually had light switches, but none of the newer prisons have them. I’ve learned to keep a bookmark handy to put in whatever I’m reading when the lights go off and pick up again the next day. Prison teaches you patience and accommodation to arbitrary actions by those in authority.

— Turning the water off in the sink. We don’t have knobs or handles, we have push buttons. I push the button for hot water and it runs for ten seconds or so, then shuts off. To wash my hands I have to push it four or five times. Our sink doesn’t have a faucet. It has an upward-pointing nozzle like a water fountain and often overshoots the sink, leaving a puddle of water on the concrete floor.

— What to eat. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are planned for us by a ‘dietitian’ and a menu is issued once a week. However, we often don’t get what the menu says, especially if it’s something good. Portions are small, like they’re feeding children instead of grown men. Due to some prisoners with dietary restrictions, they don’t season the food, so most is bland. What isn’t bland often just tastes bad.

In a rare moment of honesty, the kitchen manager here told me one time, “You know, Mr. Shell, we don’t get anything here unless there’s something wrong with it.” When we see a food recall announced on TV, we know what we’ll be getting in the near future. We can’t expect much when they feed us for less than a dollar a day. Much of the food is donated.

— Paying medical bills. Starting the first of the year, 2020, visits to the doctor are free. Before that we had to pay $ 5 to see a doctor. That may not sound like much, but most jobs here pay around $ 12 a month, so for most men here it was a substantial expense.

— Paying for medications. As with doctor visits, prior to the first of the year medications cost $ 3 for a 30 day supply. Now they’re free. I don’t know if this has anything to do with it, but they’ve signed us all up for Medicare. I know that now pays for many medical costs.

— Getting COVID. Since March 20, we’ve been on modified lockdown. That means we never leave our pod or building except for things like doctor’s appointments. We spend around twenty hours a day in our cells, get out in the pod a few hours each day, but we have no contact with other pods, which are three to a building. This isolation has kept the virus at bay, and we’ve had no cases among inmates, and only two staff catching it. There are just over one thousand men here at Pocahontas State Correctional Center, where I’m housed. They don’t call them prisons anymore. Same thing, different, more PC, name.

I won’t catch COVID from another inmate. Our lockdown has worked in that aspect. We have zero cases of COVID among the isolated inmates and only two among staff who come and go from the facility, when the surrounding counties have many cases.

— When I finally get out of this nightmare, I’ll have to learn to do all the things the DOC has done for me all this time all over again.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read Bob Shell’s, first essay on civil war, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob_shell_science_morality/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

Posted in Affiliates, Blog, commentary, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, lifestyle, News, Popular Culture

Anthony Colagreco: Of Things Lost From Pleasures Past

Poetry by Anthony Colagreco

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Poetry by Anthony Colagreco, Copyright 2020

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Portrait of Anthony Colagreco by Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

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About The Author: Anthony Colagreco is a master massage therapist with over 40 years of servicing a variety of clients in Philadelphia and vicinity.  In recent years, Mr. Colagreco has focused his attention on private investigative work as an understudy to Kitty Hailey, a nationally renowned private investigator who is also headquartered in Philadelphia.

Posted in Affiliates, Blog, Friends of TWS, Poetry, Popular Culture