Retired Judge Michael Heavey, Director of Judges for Justice
Listen to Judge Michael Heavey explain some of the reasons why people are wrongfully convicted: inflammatory media before they ever get to trial, coercive interrogations, dubious incentivized witnesses and official misconduct.
All of the above factored into Jesse Brooks’ conviction but perhaps the most damning of all factors in his wrongful conviction was the inflammatory coverage in the press. The media, for example, was consistently focused on the wealth of Jesse’s father Jay. There were almost 1,000 newspaper, television and radio reports about the “millionaire murder case” and there is no doubt that the court of public opinion convicted Jesse Brooks before his trial began.
But it wasn’t just the influence of the press coverage that tipped the scales of justice against Jesse. The prosecution also leveraged wealth bias in their opening and closing arguments and the state’s narrative of the crime throughout the trial.
Judge Heavey’s explanation could not resonate more than it did during Jesse’s recent hearing where the state argued to dismiss his petition. Prosecutor Elizabeth Woodcock told Judge Richard McNamara that wealth was not the state’s theme and went on to tell him that they did not mention it in their opening statement or closing argument.
LOOK AND LISTEN FOR YOURSELF.
HEARING - PROSECUTOR ELIZABETH WOODCOCK 06/20/18
“The State didn’t argue wealth in their opening or closing.”
OPENING STATEMENT - MICHAEL LEWIS 10/28/09
“They wanted to demonstrate their loyalty to a wealthy family, to the Brooks family...a Brooks family affair”
CLOSING ARGUMENT - JANICE RUNDLES 11/18/09
“It was accomplished by the money and power they had..”
“And without their money to provide the incentive....”
Jesse’s Ineffective Counsel case is now in the hands of Judge McNamara and we hope that he will clearly see from the record that the State has repeatedly withheld the truth in Jesse Brooks’ case and that wealth bias was in fact a common thread from beginning to end. At the hearing Attorney Donna Brown presented a chart showing the cumulative number of instances of wealth bias, which totaled to over 50 spanning throughout the trial. Despite the fact that there wasn’t a shred of evidence against Jesse Brooks and he had an irrefutable alibi - prosecutors were allowed to demonize Jesse with wealth along with the false testimony and out-of-court statements of incentivized witnesses with little objection by Jesse’s trial attorneys. They also allowed prosecutor Janice Rundles to knowingly close the trial with the state’s star witness Joseph Vrooman’s false testimony of a “conspiracy meeting and phone call to Michael Benton.” Both the State and Jesse’s attorneys withheld the exculpatory evidence proving that it did not happen. Jesse Brooks continues to await justice as he heads into 10-1/2 years of incarceration for a crime he did not commit.