Judge Qiana Lillard adjourns March 6 hearing to Friday, March 9 at 9 a.m. without timely notice (Register of Actions says 9 a.m. although Lillard’s clerk says 10 a.m., but after unexpected adjournment, play it safe)
Dozens turned out for Lewis, along with mainstream media
“I heard a group of people praying on the line outside the courtroom, and they called out my son’s name.”—Mother Rosie Lewis
By Diane Bukowski
March 7, 2016
DETROIT—Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard unexpectedly postponed a hearing for Charles Lamont (‘K.K.’) Lewis, an innocent Detroit juvenile lifer, set for yesterday, until Friday, March 9 at 9 a.m, according to the court website. But what was likely meant as a tactic to undermine support for him and 246 other juvenile lifers in Michigan backfired.
Dozens of new supporters came out for Lewis’ hearing, including members of the Detroit People’s Task Force, Juvenile Lifers for Justice, and Vivian Kincaid, the sister of freed juvenile lifer Timothy Kincaid. A substantial turnout of his constant supporters, his former comrades in prison, also returned. All pledged to come back Friday.
“I was standing in that long line outside the court waiting to get in when I heard a group of people on the line praying and they called out my son’s name,” Lewis’ mother Rosie Lewis said. “I was so happy, I no longer felt alone.”
Publicity about Lewis’ case went world-wide, from Atlanta, where the city’s Black Panther Liberation Front sponsored a radio show on his case, to the United Kingdom to Africa. Mainstream media showed up in force and said they would be back Friday.
“When I address the judge Friday, I will be telling her that I stand at the front of 247 juvenile lifers still incarcerated and sitting in limbo without sentences in Michigan, who will be watching what happens in my case,” Lewis told VOD. No official records of Lewis’ conviction of killing an off-duty Detroit police officer in 1976 remain. His entire court file was “lost,” and his Register of Actions from 1976 to 2000 was wiped out.
Lewis said the other juvenile lifers view his case as an indicator of whether the courts in Michigan will abide by two U.S. Supreme Court decisions declaring their sentences unconstitutional, “cruel and unusual punishment,” from day one. They are the two-thirds of the state’s 363 juvenile lifers for whom county prosecutors recommended new life without parole sentences, in violation of the high court’s decree that “only the rarest child” should be sent to die in prison.
Lewis said he and his counselor waited by the prison’s video room from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. for the scheduled video hearing, but no word ever came to them from the court. Judge Lillard’s administrative clerk said she sent notice of the adjournment to the MDOC scheduling office in Lansing Monday at 4:30 pm by email. When Lewis talked to VOD at 1 p.m. yesterday, he still had not been given the new date and time, which VOD confirmed with Judge Lillard’s clerk.
Lewis said he wants to know just what issues the judge plans to address, in the wake of the abrupt withdrawal of his paid attorney Victoria Burton-Harris from his case Jan. 31. Lillard filed an order granting the withdrawal, but none ordering Lewis to represent himself.
On Nov. 11, 2016, Lillard denied Lewis’ own motion to dismiss his case due to the loss of his official court records and Register of Actions, and denied a motion by SADO attorney Valerie Newman, now with the Prosecutor’s Office, to sentence him to 40-60 years. She left standing only a motion by Asst. Prosecutor Tom Dawson to re-sentence him to LWOP.
She then ordered the re-construction of his lost court file. Lewis has cited numerous U.S. and Michigan Supreme Court precedents that indicate a criminal case file cannot be reconstructed, and that the remedy for a lost file is case dismissal. Burton-Harris refused to raise those arguments.
“Judge Lillard has already ruled on my case showing extreme prejudice,” Lewis said. “She cannot hold a juvenile lifer mitigation hearing in the wake of that ruling. She also has a conflict of interest because she spent eight years as an Assistant Prosecutor working with other AP’s who handled my ongoing appeals, directly before she was appointed to the bench by Gov. Rick Snyder.”
Lewis later filed his own motion objecting to the judge’s ruling June 23, 2017, which is on the court record, after Newman refused to appeal Judge Lillard’s denial of her motion and withdrew from his case.
Lewis’ sister Wendy Lewis, who lives in Atlanta, set up the radio show on his case with Cedric Sims of Atlanta’s Black Liberation Front Monday night.
“My brother got support from the Black Diaspora,” Lewis said. “Blacks in other places around the planet are watching Blacks here in the U.S. to see what’s going on with us. What happens to us draws on their heartstrings. They are concerned about what happens to Lamont. There were numerous comments on posts I published on Facebook pages, particularly from the United Kingdom and Africa expressing their support for Lamont.”
(Lewis’ family calls him by his middle name, while many who know him from the 41 years he has been in MDOC, since the age of 17, know him as ‘K.K.’)
Lewis’ mother Rosie Lewis, who has stood by her son since his trials in 1977, called what the court system is doing to her son and others like him “genocide.”
“They have been barred from having children and grandchildren,” Mrs. Lewis said. “What happened yesterday was horrifying and frustrating. There is no accountability in our court system. They lost Lamont’s files, they have no records of what the jury decided in his first trial because the judge would not read their verdict, and no record of the official verdict from his second trial, which constituted double jeopardy. They are violating every right he has. I say to the judge and to Gov. Snyder that they are violating every duty assigned to them as their part of their jobs. Criminal charges need to be brought against them all.”
Marilyn Jordan of the Detroit People’s Task Force, whose son Kelly Nobles remains incarcerated despite falsified forensic evidence in his case, said their organization is reconstituting itself to fight wrongful convictions and wants to bring the mothers of all those suffering unjustly in MDOC’s facilities together as a united front. The Task Force had broad recognition after the closure of the Detroit Crime Lab, when they fought for an investigation of hundreds of falsified forensics cases independent of the prosecutor’s office.
Elena Herrada of Juvenile Lifers for Justice, which is led by juvenile lifer Efrén Paredes, Jr. said she is recruiting more of their members to return Friday and invited Mrs. Lewis to appear on her 910 AM radio show the Sunday after next, March 18. It airs from 6 a.m. to 8a.m. every Sunday. She said it was she who called out Lewis’ name during the prayer session outside the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice March 6.
Atlanta Black Panther Liberation Front at https://www.facebook.com/groups/113901215997900/about/
#TAKETHEKNEE! FRI. OCT. 6; FREE CHARLES LEWIS, INNOCENT, IN PRISON 41 YEARS; COURT FILES DESTROYED