Brother Anthony Shahid and Rev. Phillip Duvall

Reverend Phillip Duvall (right), who helped to provoke the reopening of the Jason Stockley case along with Brother Anthony Shahid (left), was nominated to the new Justice Services Advisory Board by St. Louis County Executive Sam Page.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page has recommended to the St. Louis County Council an impressive list of nominees for a new Justice Services Advisory Board to advise the director of the Department of Justice Services regarding the policies and operations at the County jail in Clayton.

“Recent deaths of inmates in the county’s custody prompted us to improve the Justice Center and set it on a new course,” Page said in a statement. “Appointing a new advisory board will help us identify additional reforms we can implement at the Justice Center.”



With the health (and life) of people in county custody at stake, a senior health expert was nominated: Dr. Alexander Garza, chief medical officer at SSM Health and the former assistant secretary and chief medical officer of the United States Department of Homeland Security.

With County justice services frequently targeted by protests, a protest veteran was nominated: Reverend Phillip Duvall, who helped to provoke the reopening of the Jason Stockley case, also Social Justice commissioner of the Missionary Baptist State Convention of Missouri.

A very unique and insightful former inmate, though in federal rather than county custody, was nominated: Jeff Smith, executive director of the Missouri Workforce Housing Association, former state senator and author of the memoir “Mr. Smith Goes to Prison,” which closes with an argument for prison reform.

With one of the best research universities in the county footprint, a subject matter expert from Washington University was nominated: Timothy McBride, a professor at the Brown School of Social Work at and chair of the MO HealthNet Oversight Committee in the Missouri Department of Social Services.

Clearly, the voices of women engaged in relevant community work is needed, and two were nominated: Twyla Lee, an educator and active participant in Color of Change, a civil rights organization; and Mary Zabawa Taylor, a volunteer in the criminal justice ministry in the St. Louis County Justice Center and former director of Patient Safety at Washington University School of Medicine.

“These appointees are professional, thoughtful and diverse,” Page said in a statement. “We will look to this board for advice and counsel. And I will expect them to listen to our diverse community in formulating their reports.”

Duvall has a proven record of working collaboratively behind the scenes to bust open a major public safety scandal in the Stockley case, and several of the nominees have brash voices in social media, where they have highly public profiles, so this was not a safe list that Page has handed to the County Council.

Clay moves toward impeachment of Trump 

Political EYE does a lot of reporting and commenting on bad politics and government. This week, it’s all good, responsible politics and government.

U.S. Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Missouri) is co-sponsoring resolutions that outline an Article of Impeachment in the U.S. House of Representatives against President Donald Trump and demanding an immediate inquiry. “Impeachment is the only constitutionally available remedy that would directly address President Trump’s blatant and repeated attempts to obstruct justice, his repeated lies to Congress, and most importantly his lies to the American people,” Clay said in a statement on Friday, June 21.

Clay joined with U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-California) and U.S. Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) to cosponsor House Resolution 13: “Impeaching Donald Trump, President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.” The proposed Article of Impeachment recount’s Trump’s repeated attempts to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation, as outlined in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. It has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. The proposed Article of Impeachment concludes:

“Donald John Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”

“Today, I have acted to assert the constitutionally mandated authority of the U.S. House to hold President Donald Trump accountable for his repeated acts of attempted obstruction of justice and his reckless contempt for the Constitution which he took an oath to preserve, protect and defend,” Clay stated. 

Clay also joined with U.S. Rep. Rashida Talib (D-Michigan) and Green to cosponsor H. Res 257: “Inquiring whether the House of Representatives should impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America. It has been referred to the House Rules Committee.”

“In the past, other presidents who trampled on the Rule of Law, dishonored their office, and violated their sacred oath were ultimately held accountable by the Constitution and the harsh judgment of history,” Clay stated. “Donald Trump is about to learn that same lesson.”

To read the full text of H.Res. 13, visit:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-resolution/13/text

 

Bell announces Conviction and Incident Review Unit 

St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell is rolling out a new Conviction and Incident Review Unit with two mandates that will, he said, “safeguard the integrity of convictions” won by the office.

The Conviction and Incident Review Unit (CIRU) – which will stand as its own unit, independent from the rest of the office and answer solely to Bell, will employ a director who will be hired through a national search. Its mandates will be to review two sets of things: cases involving substantiated claims of wrongful prosecution or conviction, and all matters relating to police officer-involved shootings and alleged police misconduct.

“The obligation of every prosecutor is to pursue justice, an obligation that cannot be met if the public lacks confidence in the integrity of criminal convictions,” Bell said in a statement. “From the data we know wrongful convictions happen all over the country, which is why it’s imperative to critically review cases where credible challenges are raised.”

In the past 30 years, according to Bell, 2,446 people have been exonerated in the U.S. who were wrongfully convicted – and 50 of those exonerations were in Missouri, who served a combined total of 523 years incarcerated for crimes they did not commit.

Bell said that more than 30 prosecuting attorneys nationwide have established similar programs to address the problem, “using data-driven methods to establish best practices that vigorously uphold prosecutorial ethics,” Bell said.

“To that end,” Bell said, “this office will employ every measure available not only to prosecute crimes and assist victims, but also to correct injustice by safeguarding the integrity of all convictions.”

Muslims for a Better America host Campaign Training Academy 

In Trump’s America, Muslims are one of this country’s most vulnerable minority groups, and a local organization is trying to groom candidates who will protect the community and advance its interests. Muslims for a Better America is hosting a new comprehensive, local and nonpartisan campaign training program. On weekends from August to September, students will attend 10 classes taught by local political experts covering topics such as filing for office, field strategy and donor cultivation. It is open to any future candidate, campaign staff or anyone who wants to consider running for office.

“We first thought that this would be a service to train qualified Muslim candidates,” said Saad Amir, executive director Muslims for a Better America, “but we quickly realized that no one else in the state was offering what we were going to offer, and we knew right away that this training had to be open to everyone.”

The application period opens 9 a.m. Saturday, June 29. For more information and to apply, visit mbamissouri.com/academy.

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