Highlights of an Injustice…   

After a long absence from my blog, I’m pleased to a present a condensed version of my upcoming book Reclaiming Lives; Pursuing Justice for Six Innocent Men which was published last week on The Reporter’s Inc. website. Special thanks to Mark Saxenmeyer for this promotion (and also for producing the documentary, The Innocent Convicts, due out in 2018).

My book which will soon be published unveils new efforts to seek justice for the five remaining incarcerated Wisconsin men convicted in 1995 of murdering Tom Monfils. It lends insight into the devastation that followed these convictions especially for the family members also victimized by a sometimes unjust criminal justice system.

With an astounding 2.2 million prisoners in the U.S. and an alarming 4-10% (88,000 to 200,000) of them being potentially innocent, the book also begs for broader discussion on prison reform to include those wrongfully convicted–a conversation that many of us feel is long overdue.

I learned of the Monfils case in 2009 when I read another book called The Monfils Conspiracy; The Conviction of Six Innocent Men, coauthored by John Gaie and Denis Gullickson with the help of exoneree Michael ‘Pie’ Piaskowski. At the time, I knew nothing about being falsely accused or the possibility of being convicted for a crime I did not commit. Since then, the idea that everyone in prison claims to be innocent has taken on new meaning for me because the fact is; many in prison really are innocent.

In the meantime, legal efforts regarding this case continue in the court system. Recently, a petition for a writ of certiorari—a document asking the high court to review the decision of a lower court–was filed in the U.S. Supreme Court by Steven Z. Kaplan from the Minneapolis law firm of Fredrikson&Byron, PA, on behalf of Keith Kutska. This court is in recess until October so a ruling of whether or not the court will consider examining the case will not be announced before then.

The main points of this latest petition:

  • The accuracy and conclusion of the coroner’s report
  • Trial counsel’s failure to consult a forensic pathologist
  • Post-conviction counsel’s failure to consult a forensic pathologist
  • Defense counsel’s failures to investigate suicide
  • Defense counsel’s deficient and prejudicial representation
  • Due process violations and perjured testimony

*Please note that as of July 1, 2017, my JoanTreppa.Wordpress.com blog will be discontinued and all new content will be posted here, at JoanTreppa.com. This new site titled A Matter of Facts contains all previous posts along with additional content and a link to order my book. I invite you to stay connected through subscribing to this new site. Thank you for your interest.

On a final note, I wanted to share the Mother’s Day card my son, Jared, designed for me this year (2017). It contains a photo he took along with a poem he composed with words and phrases taken from my book. Best card ever!

A Note of Thanks…

Blaine High School. Photo courtesy of BHS FB page.

Hello Blaine High!

I’m posting a brief note to recognize and thank the amazing students we met from the three Criminal Justice classes at Blaine High School this past month.

In our mission to highlight wrongful convictions we are proud to educate young adults like you because you represent the future. You will lead this country and based on your prior experiences and knowledge, you will be the ones making the hard and important decisions for us all. Johnny and I appreciated your questions, your willingness to listen, and your patience as we navigated together through a disheartening topic–discussing your impressions of the Monfils case, aspects and flaws of eye-witness identification, cross-racial identification, and forensic science. We were especially touched by and will always remember the personal stories some of you shared as well.

Most of all, we are honored to have met you and we hope the information we presented will be useful as you build your futures. We invite you to stay connected and follow along as the legal process in the Monfils case continues. Please feel free to reach out to us through this site with additional questions and comments.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t also thank teachers, David Bestul and Lance Pettis for inviting us. Awesome teachers like you enhance the education of your students by providing an array of topics from multiple viewpoints.

Best wishes to all and may justice carry you through the toughest of times.

Sincerely,

Joan and Johnny

In-class presentation. Photo courtesy of Michelle Richardson.

 

Setting the Example…

Currently, five innocent men; Keith Kutska, Dale Basten, Michael Hirn, Reynold Moore, and Michael Johnson grow older…more weary…and beleaguered, as their time in prison continues.

We all make a difference…every day. We don’t realize it because often, the results are neither profound or earth shattering. But it’s a fact that the smallest of actions can have the greatest impact and become an example for those around us.

Awhile back, when I emerged from the shadows, compelled to devote my existence to fighting for the rights of six Wisconsin men, it not only ended up having a major impact on their lives…but on mine as well. Suddenly, my life held more meaning and was more focused. Although it may not have been my initial intention to take this specific path, it always was my choice to make. But I now think of it as more of a responsibility I had no choice but to embrace.

I believe this book, Reclaiming Lives; Pursuing Justice for Six Innocent Men, which I’m about to publish, will create a firestorm of support that could affect current legal actions. Certainly not because it’s the best literature ever written but because it embodies the very essence of what we as humans aspire to be—example setters.

To further my point, I wanted to highlight something noteworthy that resulted from a story I wrote awhile back. Exoneree, Michael Piaskowski, whom I consider a colleague and valuable friend, was compelled to post it on the site where the article appeared:

“Hello to everyone. As Joan Treppa noted [in this article]; after being wrongfully convicted and sentenced to ‘life in prison’ for a crime that I did not commit, I was completely exonerated and ordered released by the United States Federal Court system; all of my citizenship rights restored. In simpler words, the United States ‘legal system’ worked for me. The system made a mistake. The system recognized the mistake. And the system corrected that mistake. I am again ‘free’ to pursue all the rights and liberties bestowed upon all United States citizens.

Unfortunately that very same legal system has failed the other five men in this case. We (the other five defendants and I) are ALL innocent of this crime. All six of us were convicted of an incident that never took place. I repeat: It never happened. Thomas Monfils’ death was caused in some other way. The Green Bay police investigators got it completely wrong. I do not know how Tom died, but I do know that it did NOT happen the way we were convicted of it happening.

2013 photo of exoneree Michael Piaskowski and Joan Treppa at benefit for Innocence Project of Minnesota.

That’s where wonderful people like Joan Treppa come in; to pick up where Justice Myron Gordon left off and, at least in this case, to continue the fight for true ‘Justice for Tom’.

With the help of John Gaie, Denis Gullickson, Johnny Johnson, Steve Kaplan and Cal Monfils; and organizations like the law firm of Fredrikson & Byron, The Innocence Project of Minnesota, The Wisconsin Innocence Project, and the Family and Friends of Six Innocent Men group here in Green Bay; collectively, we fight this just cause. It’s the American way. On behalf of the wrongfully incarcerated everywhere, thank-you Joan, for your dedication and perseverance. — Mike ‘Pie’ Piaskowski

Here’s the link to the story (which was posted in an earlier blog).

An update: Please help me spread the word. Signed copies of my book which addresses this unjust case are now available for pre-order. The book is currently discounted at $12.95+ shipping). This link takes you to a FB page to access the ‘Shop Now’ button (located in the upper right corner). Books will be shipped when they become available.

I’m truly honored to have had your support along the way as I continue on a path to making a difference and being an example on behalf of these men and their families.