Reports and Requests From the Community

Supporters of Russ Van Vleck report that the State of Vermont has dropped its family court case against him. Van Vleck is now free to live at home and be in the same room as his daughter without supervision.

August 2012 update:  Stephanie Spurgeon has been sentenced to 15 years. The information below for writing to the judge is obsolete.

Second, supporters of Stephanie Spurgeon, the Florida child-care provider convicted last month, have posted instructions for writing to the judge on behalf of Spurgeon before her sentencing on May 7—now postponed until July 24, 2012. The instructions are aimed at friends and family members, but our participation might help educate the  judge.  The key point for us is that it’s not OK to talk about the trial but it is OK to say the evidence against her was inadequate. The news report of the conviction seems to be off the web, but you can get more information from this article written during the trial: http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/medical-examiner-says-palm-harbor-infants-death-was-not-shaken-baby/1214742

Update:  Governor Brown pardoned Shirley Smith on April 6, 2012. See my blog posting here.

To almost eveyone’s surprise, meanwhile, there’s been no word from Govenor Jerry Brown in California about the requested commutation of sentence for Shirley Ree Smith, whose conviction was unfortunately re-affirmed in the fall by the Supreme Court. The good news is that the court granted Smith permission to move to another state, so she’s now living with her grandchildren. Her daughter, currently working in another state for financial reasons, will be joining them soon. The best news is that she remains free, at least for now. If you haven’t yet written in support of the pardon, instructions are on the governor’s web site:  http://gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php   If you want to submit your comments electronically:  Choose the “Pardon request” item in the drop-down menu. The box for comments doesn’t show up until you complete the first screen.

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