Artists For Reggie!


Danny Glover — Executing Reggie Would Be a Grave Miscarriage of Justice – March 21, 2006

I’m a child of the Civil Rights Movement. I was seven years old when the U.S. Supreme Court made the decision in Brown v. Board of Education to end segregation in public schools. From that point on, I followed the movement, initially through my parents, who were active members of the NAACP. They were postal employees who were very involved in restructuring their union after it was desegregated in 1948. It was a kind of empowerment that my parents embraced; the Civil Rights Movement was tangential to their own struggle. I was always privy to the discussions going on. Those were the things that shaped me. From an early age, I became active in social justice issues.

It is no surprise then, that I have always been opposed to the death penalty, both in principle and in practice. As a matter of policy, I do not support the use of homicide as an official tool of the state, particularly since the death penalty does not serve as a deterrent to crime. In practice, we have seen how unfairly the death penalty has been applied in this country. It is a punishment that has been almost exclusively reserved for the poor and people of color. “Justice” does not come easily to those who are the least empowered, and we have seen the chilling results: over one hundred and twenty people have been exonerated and released from death row in modern times, some of them only hours before they were to be executed. One shudders to think how many innocent people have gone to their deaths.

There are some cases that stand out because they are so egregious. Reggie Clemons is an example of such a case.

Reggie’s case is marked by the familiar litany of abuses found in so many capital cases: police brutality, prosecutorial misconduct, racial bias and ineffective assistance of trial counsel. It is also a textbook case of reasonable doubt, a fundamental element of our criminal justice system that requires especially intense consideration in death penalty cases.

And yet these are not the only reasons to believe that executing Reggie would be a grave miscarriage of justice. Executing Reggie would continue the legacy of state sponsored homicide as a solution to acts of violence. It would create additional victims, continuing the cycle of violence. Carrying out this execution would not bring back the victims; nor would it ensure that future crimes are not committed. Instead, Reggie’s mother and father would lose a son. His brothers and sisters would lose a sibling. His daughter would lose her father.

Like my parents before me, I believe that we have a responsibility to act whenever we see grave injustices. We must act and believe that we can change things for the better. Collectively, we can stop this execution from going forward. Please join me in urging Governor Blunt to grant clemency to Reggie Clemons.

Bianca Jagger Speaks out about Reggie Clemons:

*Read her entire statement here:

I am currently supporting the campaign for clemency for Reggie Clemons, a 38 year-old African-American man sentenced to death in Missouri after an unfair trial biased in favour of execution. There are many significant and troubling questions about who committed the crime for which Reggie was sentenced to death. Reggie’s case is filled with many injustices, including police brutality, gross prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective defence counsel. Reggie Clemons has been on Missouri’s death row for over 16 years, sentenced as an accomplice in the death of two white women in 1991. Clemons and two other black men were sentenced to death while a fourth person, a young white man was offered a plea deal and is out on parole.

The case is, like many capital cases I have worked on, fraught with racial bias. The original suspect, a white man and the cousin of the women, confessed to the crime after failing a lie detector test and changing his story several times. All three black defendants claimed that their confessions were coerced by police beatings and/or denial of constitutional rights.

  • Reggie and others present on the night of the crime were brutalized by the police. The male cousin of the two victims initially confessed to the murders, but ultimately filed suit against the City of St. Louis for police brutality and received a $150,000 settlement.
  • Although Reggie asked for an attorney, he was denied one. Instead, Reggie says he was subjected to several hours of threats and police beatings. He was slapped, punched in the head, choked and beaten about the chest. As a result of these beatings, Reggie’s face became visibly swollen. After five hours of violent interrogation, Reggie made a coerced statement. The arraignment judge sent Clemons to the hospital for obvious injuries he did not have before his ‘interview’ with police. Yet Reggie could not use his own experience of beatings at the hands of St. Louis police as a mitigating factor in his trial.
  • The prosecutor behaved so egregiously that he was that he was held in criminal contempt and fined for his conduct. Prosecutor Nels Moss engaged in a pattern of prosecutorial misconduct, including witness intimidation, and tactics to exclude African American jurors, that deprived Reggie of his Constitutional rights. Two federal courts later found that Moss’s actions in Reggie’s case were “abusive and boorish.” So severe was the prosecutorial misconduct in Reggie’s case that the prosecutor was held in criminal contempt and fined for his conduct. The misconduct on the part of the prosecutor was not isolated: a recent study by the Center for Public Integrity found Moss to be one of the most criticized prosecutors in the country who repeatedly broke the rules.
  • As so often happens in capital cases, Reggie’s trial counsel was grossly ineffective. The husband and wife team were in the middle of a divorce and conducted themselves unprofessionally. They did not do a pre-trial investigation and had Reggie’s mother, who has no legal background, draft questions for the witnesses. One of the lawyers then moved to California, virtually abandoning the case. Eventually, one of Reggie’s lawyers would have his law license suspended after repeatedly being disciplined for neglecting his duties to his clients.
  • African-Americans were improperly excluded from the jury — only 2 of the 12 jurors were African-American even though (as the judge conceded on the record) in his experience St. Louis juries were usually half white/half black. This was deemed unconstitutional by two federal judges.
  • In July 2009, in a significant development in the Reggie Clemons case, the Missouri Supreme Court ordered the appointment of a special master to investigate claims that Reggie was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death. The Court acted in response to a petition for habeas corpus filed by Reggie’s attorneys on June 12th.
  • Jackson County Circuit Judge Michael Manners was selected to evaluate Reggie’s claims. According to the order, Judge Manners is appointed “with full power and authority to issue subpoenas” and to “compel production of books, papers and documents and the attendance of witnesses.” The Missouri Supreme Court’s order states that the special master will eventually “report the evidence taken, together with his findings of fact and conclusions of law,” to the Missouri Supreme Court.
  • There is no physical evidence linking Clemons to the offense. It came to light only recently that critical evidence was never provided to the defense or tested for DNA.




Chino Mr. 636:



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