FOA’s Michael Heavey Sends A Rather Confused Letter To President Obama Copied To Congress
Posted by Peter Quennell
Oddly, he seems to have done it again. Click above to read the Open Letter from Michael Heavey to President Obama copied to members of Congress on what looks like official letterhead.
The Open Letter was dated 15 May but, unusually for an Open Letter, took some time to come to light. So far, we are seeing no official response.
Perhaps not surprising. Any quick call to the Italy Desk of Secretary of State Clinton’s State Department will reveal that not one of the claims made is on solid ground and several very, very widely already shot down in flames.
In our usual helpful way, we too will shortly write an Open Letter to President Obama, with a copy to the State Department and the Congress (where a lot of people especially Italian-Americans already think the Knox campaign is a real crock) explaining precisely how each claim made by Mr Heavey is wrong.
For example in quick summary, the consular office found nothing out of order, zero interrogation of Knox as a suspect ever took place without a lawyer, Mr Mignini never came up with any bizarre theories not already out there and anyway Judge Micheli and Judge Massei settled on theories of their own, and Mr Mignini merely recommended to Doug Preston (who was foolishly attempting to mislead him) to go get a good lawyer who speaks Italian. Not to run squealing back to Maine.
Previous posts on Mr Heavey’s many hapless and ineffective insertions of himself into the case can be read here.
It looks like official letterhead but it isn’t. Googling the address brings up the tax rolls and shows that’s his residence.
I was misled by the “Chambers” reference (his bedroom?)and it appears that was the intention of whoever released the letter (probably the two FOA co-signers)
I agree it’s best to focus on the many misstatements of Mr. Heavey.
Btw, I don’t think he wrote that letter. It just reads like something the FOA would write, and not a judge.
Though he did sign it. And didn’t the agreement with the Washington State Ethics Board stipulate he would not ‘speak’ about the matter again? Does writing about it not violate the purpose of the agreement? Just asking.
Is this for real? After all this time and all admonishments / clarifications he still believes all this?
How about asking what the US State Department will do to prevent innocent room mates from being savagely MURDERED by crazed, psychopathic Americans abroad?
The letterhead gives the impression that the letter has been written on judicial stationary. It is quite clear that Judge Heavey is attempting to lend the prestige of his judicial office to this letter.
According to the unsealed judgement, Judge Heavey assured the Commission for Judicial Conduct that he would not lend the prestige of his judicial office by utilizing judicial stationary:
“Finally, Respondent indicated that by utilizing his judicial stationary, he lent the prestige of his judicial office. Respondent assured the Commission he would not do so in the future.”
Judge Heavey also assured the CJC that he would not speak publicly about the case:
“4. Also in his Self-Report, Respondent described speaking publicly on several occasions about Knox’ case. Respondent recognized that when he became a judge, he could no longer seek to influence a legal proceeding as he could do as a lawyer. Respondent assured the Commission he would stop speaking publicly about this matter.”
Despite giving the CJC the assurance that he would not speak publicly about this case, Judge Heavey has still spoken publicly about this matter on a number of occasions.
He gave a presentation about the case at the West Seattle Rotary Luncheon at Salty’s on Alki on 18 January 2011. The West Seattle Herald featured an article about Judge Heavey’s presentation.
Judge Heavey’s presentation at Salty’s was posted on YouTube:
Judge Heavey also spoke publicly about the case at Seattle University on 4 April 2011. The West Seattle Herald featured a couple of articles about this event:
Judge Heavey’s speech at Seattle University was posted on YouTube:
The Exceutive Director for the Commission of Judicial Conduct, Reiko Callner, can be contacted via e-mail:
Had he used this letterhead for personal business, such as an invitation to a BBQ, it would be fine. But to send it to the president as well as all of congress, criticizing the state department, is practically suicidal after his being previously reprimanded for something similar.
Oh look, it’s the Judge in his home “Chambers” with a fabulous view of Puget Sound. This was while he was being interviewed back in 2008-2009 for Garfield Kennedy’s Amanda Knox TV show.
This letter is a factless disaster. I’m certain even those who casually follow this case could spot the numerous errors in an instant.
It’s nonsense. I’m delighted to hear there will be a correction letter coming soon.
Those of you who don’t live in Seattle miss out seeing the depth of the PR effort to “Free Amanda”, from the little bits of information aired every few weeks on the local TV news stations providing updates on the progress “our little girl” is making in winning her freedom, to the recent KOMO 4 radio news coverage of Heavey’s letter, coming one full month after it was actually written.
It was astonishing to hear the broadcast go on and on about how Judge Heavey says this and Judge Heavey says that about the Knox case, and has now written President Obama about broken laws and the failure of the US Government to intervene. Only at the very end did they throw in the disclaimer that he was actually making these statements as a private citizen.
But the worst of it may have been that they actually brought played recorded sound bites of Senator Maria Cantwell from a year and a half ago when the court found Knox guilty talking about a list of concerns regarding the way the Italians handled the case. I have to wonder if Senator Cantwell is truly on-board with being represented as an active member of Heavey’s current cause. To my knowledge Senator Cantwell has not publicly spoken about Knox since December 2009, when she apparently came to the realization of how deep into her mouth her foot had become lodged in saying that she was taking this matter directly to Hillary Clinton.
Fortunately, the only thing Heavey’s letter is going to accomplish is to demonstrate once again how pathetically little Heavey actually knows about the case. For example, following his appearance at the Seattle U panel discussion about the Knox trial Heavey told local Seattle Fox News TV reporters that the Knox case was now falling completely apart because the independent investigators working in the appeal had discovered that there was never any DNA on the murder weapon knife in the first place. Heavey accused the Italian government of fabricating evidence to support trumped up charges against Knox without bothering to produce any evidence to support the claim.
In fact, the independent experts have yet to conclude anything and will not present their findings to the court until later this summer. Is it wrong to wonder why imbecilic, close family-friend, unquestioning defense advocate Heavey gets so much air time as an alleged voice of reason regarding this case?
My comment on Huffington Post:
Here’s what I mean about the utter cluelessness and allround Keystone Koppishness of the Amanders. Re: Judge Heavey’s recent transgressions, they don’t see the point that JUDGES are supposed to be neutral, otherwise it throws the entire system of justice into disrepute? You (third parties) can complain about prosecutors or police investigations all you want, go fer it.
For a judge to insert his personal views into a case is such a bone headed move, and why? Because his daughter went to High School with the sainted one? I sometimes feel the Knoxii, like the early Christians, want more and more martyrs to the cause.
The Machine puts it perfectly. Judge Heavey appears to be flying in the face of his agreement with CJC.
The CJC gave him a second chance, then he gets slick with new but misleading letterhead, more letters to even higher officials, and public speeches where he carefully adds disclaimers (doing this in my private capacity) but he is almost surely doing the exact thing he was censured for, and more of it!
This rush to destruction seems to parallel the bind Steve Moore got caught in with his free speech for Amanda mission. He pushed the envelope until Pepperdine clocked him. Like Moore, Heavey IMHO flouts the spirit of the agreement he signed while pretending to be within the letter of the law.
The CJC may come down hard on him this time. Sadly he seems to court disaster.
Peter, with a modicum of intellectual honesty, you would have pointed out that it wasn’t the content of Judge Heavey’s original letter, but the fact that it was prepared on the clock. His complaints made prior to the first trial weren’t misleading, but made an accurate assessment of what has been a world-wide blow-back on the conduct of this trial.
I disagee with the decision by that board. None of the issues he addressed could possibly be adjudicated in any Washington court. My rationale is that members of the other two branches of government write letters in behalf of their constituents. As you pointed out, Heavey holds an elected office, meaning he has constituents. Of the officeholders, who is better qualified than a member of the judiciary to raise questions regarding injustice?
As to discounting the letter because the State Department didn’t find fault in themselves, you created a red herring. The complaint happens to parallel what was in the complaint by members of the Italain Parliament. This letter pointed out claimed violations of Italian law.
Given a Prosecutor who changes his scenario from witches to sex to hate to thieving to she wasn’t in the room, maybe it’s time to be a bit less doctrinaire in covering the backsides of those prosecuting.
This is a good article but I would like to read Peter’s response to Barry_T’s comments.
Has anyone read the article in SeatlePI entitled “bombshell: Prosecutor can’t put Amanda in the room”? Does anyone know if any of it is true? There is also a link to the underlying article in The Sun (horrible British tabloid paper), which is worrying for until now the British press have been firmly of the view that Amanda is guilty but this seems to have changed. And like it or not, the Sun has the ability to sway the view of more people than any other paper in the UK.
Peter, I would like to read your views if you wouldn’t mind. I have been reading your posts avidly since the beginning of this sorry saga but this is my first post.
It is complete and utter nonsense and that’s the reason why there is no verbatim quote from Mignini. Mignini presented his scenario to the court last year. Like Judge Massei and Judge Cristiani, and the judges who presided over Guede’s two appeals, he believes that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito inflicted the knife wounds.
Incidentally, Candace Dempsey isn’t a journalist for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. She has a reader’s blog on the SPI website. She has been a horribly biased and partisan supporter of Amanda Knox from the very beginning and has been caught out making false claims on a number of occasions. You can find out more about Candace Dempsey by clicking on her name in the column on the right.
Amanda Knox’s questioning on 5 November 2007 was perfectly legal and that’s why no court in Italy has ruled otherwise. There were no violations of Italian law.
Judge Heavey’s open letter to President Obama is absolutely riddled with factual errors.
Amanda Knox was provided with an interpreter, Anna Donnino, and she testified in court. If Judge Heavey had bothered to follow the court proceedings or read the Massei report, he would have known this.
There was no all-night interrogation. Knox was questioned for approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes. Her questioning was stopped at 1.45am when she became a suspect. She wasn’t questioned again that night. Knox asked to make a spontaneous statement later on that night. She voluntarily repeated her false and malicious allegation against Diya Lumumba and added that she was scared of him.
There is no evidence that Amanda Knox was hit or mistreated. judge Heavey wasn’t present when Knox was questioned. All the witnesses who were actually present, including her interpreter, testified under oath during her trial that she was treated well and wasn’t hit. The judges and jury had to decide whether to believe the corroborative testimony of numerous upstanding witnesses, or the word of a someone who had repeatedly lied. It would have been a very easy decision to make.
The police weren’t required to record the interrogation because Knox was questioned as a witness and not as a suspect. Knox hadn’t even been called to the police station.
Amanda Knox herself admitted in court that she was given something to eat and drink.
The prosecutors have always maintained that Meredith was sexually assaulted. Mignini has never mentioned witches in connection to this case.
Correct me if I am wrong but I understand that nearly all, if not all, state judges are elected by popular choice in the USA, in contrast to federal judges. The election of judges by popular choice is almost unique to the USA.
The upshot is that state judges will feel the need to be responsive to popular sentiment, at least as far as their “constituents” are concerned. Whether this is a good thing or not is debatable.
The view elsewhere is that judges should be isolated from such pressures and that the only criteria for their selection should be their knowledge, ability and gaffeless track record as reviewed and assessed by their peers. There is a general fear of “dumbing down” and “wild cards in the pack”.
Of course elected state judges do not make law as this is the function of the politicians and they are restricted in common law by precedent.
And they will be further restricted by the code of conduct of their office.
It would appear that Judge Heavey is caught between that code of conduct and the notion that he has the right to speak up for his “constituents. The fact that he is, it seems, a close family friend of The Knox/Mellas’ doesn’t help.
So those of us not used to the election of judges by popular choice should bear in mind that a lot of americans, used as they are in any event to pervasive and expensive media PR and advertising campaigns, free speech as guaranteed by the constitution and the rest, will not think it abnormal for a judge to speak out publicly just as religious figures will do.
That said quite what expertise Judge Heavey thinks he has as to italian law and it’s judicial processes, and quite how he thinks he can influence what happens there, I do not know! Neither, I think, does he. He simply seeks to make himself popular with his constituents whether or not he is right as regards the facts. This seems to me to be a perfect example of the “dumbing down” and “wild card” blundering bringing the judiciary into disrepute that it fears.
I am very curious as to what the Knox/Mellas family and/or Marriott PR Firm HAVE on Judge Michael Heavey.
It’s bizarre for a judge to act in this manner, considering the past admonishments for this reckless behavior. I would be very concerned if I were a Seattle resident. He doesn’t seem to be playing with a full deck of cards.
Is he elected or appointed?
Thank you Peter for the post.
What a dreadfully scary thought it is that such a ‘stupid’ person holds the position of a judge - deciding on the faith of people based on his understanding or non understanding of the facts.
I can think of a couple of reasons why this letter is good overall;
1- It may encourage someone in the State Department to stand up and say “Knox had a fair trial and all these claims are unfounded” - hopefully the press will then spread the news!
2- It demonstrates in black and white how ignorant supporters of Knox are.
perhaps it also dims the prospects of Knox getting any sort of shorter sentence since the Italians wont want these Americans to say ‘it was because they knew she was railroaded’....just a thought
Barry should read the Commission’s stipulation, agreement and admonishment order in the case of Michael Heavey. It is a matter of public record. I will post it, plus the initial Statement of Charges (SOC) and Heavey’s Answer to the SOC, on PMF, so that anyone can download them and see exactly what Heavey was charged with, how he responded to the charges and the content of the admonishment, including the promises made by Judge Heavey in exchange for an admonishment.
As for the SOC, here it is: “Respondent is charged with violating Canons 1, 2(A)and 2(B) of the Code of Judicial Conduct by writing letters on official court stationary to Nicola Mancino, Judge Claudia Matteini, and Giuliano Mignini (members of the Italian judicial system) on behalf of criminal defendant Amanda Knox; utilizing court staff to type those letters; and speaking publicly on several occasions about that same pending criminal case in an attempt to influence the proceeding.”
In Heavey’s response, he denies having intentionally lent the prestige of his office to a private interest. Intentionally is the operative word in that sentence. Moreover, he admits that in his written and public communications he could have more clearly stipulated that his opinions and observations were his and not those of the Court. He also agrees that his communications could have been better framed to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
In the Order of Admonishment, Heavey promises to refrain from using official staff and stationery in the future. Heavey also recognizes that when he became a judge, he could no longer seek to influence a legal proceeding in the way he could do as a lawyer. Accordingly, he promises the Commission that he will in the future refrain from speaking publicly about this matter.
Judge Heavey may now wish to work around the promises he made by using private letterhead, but in doing so he uses the term “from the chambers of”. According to Black’s law dictionary, a judge’s chambers are “a private room or office of a judge; any place in which a judge hears motions, signs papers or does other business pertaining to his office, when he is not holding a session of the court.” If Heavey wants to argue that he does such business at home, then he also has to concede that he has violated the terms of his admonishment by writing to the President “from his chambers” in the furtherance of a private interest. In fact, in the Respondent Heavey’s answer to the charges, he argues that he was unaware at the time that he could have personal stationery printed bearing his title, but “which would not be confused with official stationery”. Where he went wrong, and where he appears to be trying to benefit from the prestige of his office, is in adding “from the judge’s chambers”. I would argue that he did so not to fool President Obama, but rather to fool the average reader, since his letter made its way into the media.
Similarly, Heavey may try and argue that his speaking engagements on behalf of Amanda Knox have been before private organizations (Seattle U, Rotary Clubs, etc.) and hence constitute private and not public communications. But speaking publicly clearly means speaking before a public audience. In every case, Heavey has used his clout to ensure media coverage of these private events, rendering them no longer private.
Personally, I think the most important sentence in the admonishment is Heavey’s recognition that as a judge he could no longer seek to influence a legal proceeding, as a lawyer could. Heavey has thus not only violated the agreement he reached with the Commission in the admonishment order, he has once again violated the ethical code of his profession. As a result, I have serious doubts about Heavey’s integrity and fitness for office. I am a voter in Washington State.
I apologize for this long post, but it is important to have the facts at hand.
JUDGE HEAVEY’S PREVIOUSLY SENT LETTERS TO ITALIAN JUDGES MIGNINI AND MATTEINI THAT RESULTED IN HIS ADMONISHMENT BY WASHINGTON STATE COMMISSION ON JUDICIAL CONDUCT are published on PDF in this June 30, 2010 TJMK link.
After opening the link below, click on the first letter to access the PDF. Judge Heavey’s highly-misinformed letters appear at the bottom of this PDF.
I enjoy #7 in particular. Yes, in theory, 3.8 (f) and others prohibit american prosecutors and police from statements that could heighten public condemnation of the accused, however, this has not stopped many, if any, from doing so. When a trial serves a political function, they are there, front and center, discussing what a horrible crime it was and how horrible the accused is.
And again, the heavy tone of anti-Americanism shows it’s face. This entire “Italian police” and “Italian prosecutors”. Yes, police and prosecutors can be scumbags. This is true (and I can attest to the police part of it at least), whether they are American or Italian. There have been trials in the US where evidence was fabricated by the “ministers of justice”.
In fact, the recently appointed US associated justice of the supreme court, then-Solicitor General, Elena Kagan (an Obama appointee), made it clear: prosecutors cannot be held responsible if they fabricate evidence and convict demonstratively innocent people.
Just ask Terry Harrington and Curtis McGhee, who spent 25 years in jail for a crime they didn’t commit, and who spent it there with public knowledge they were innocent.
What Mignini did that was improper, if anything, would pale to some of the enormous criminals that were and still are, prosecuting in the US.
Skep, thanks for your very clear recitation of the facts of this man’s judicial misconduct hearing and resolution.
What part of “From the Chambers of Judge” does he not understand? Is he an imbecile? He is STILL trying to lend the prestige of his office to a private citizen’s (“U.S. citizen Amanda Knox”) case.
If I were a resident of Washington, and especially his county, I would definitely be trying to get this man impeached.
This is all apart from the many factual errors and fairy-tale like narrative in the actual letter.
Last November a younger Mike Heavey, the judge’s son,9 and sibling to the sister who apparently sooo admired young Amanda at prep school she insisted daddy intervene) was running for public office on the “I used to be a reckless alcohol abuser but I’m all better now and am a shining example for Seattle’s youth.( I threw away his campaign postcard to that effect, but did email a scan of it to Peter.) So his son had substance abuse issues, his bosom buddy, Atty. Anne Bremner has had substance abuse issues, the incarcerated young adult he is so stubbornly champions has had substance abuse issues… do you perceive the same pattern i can’t help seeing?
They are all so desperate to make her behaviour okay, because if she is sick, then by association, so are they! I can understand her own flesh and blood needing her to be innocent, but neighbors, former soccer buddies, and the grocery checker who rang up her nappies, as well? (okay, I threw the last one in—but honestly, there has to be something deeply personal at stake for these people for them to go out on a limb for someone who has so obviously lied in the face of the evidence against her!
Interesting Coincidence Department:
Amanda Marie Knox born July 09, 1987
OJ Simpson born July 09, 1947.
Let´s hope everything turns out well.
The State of Washington Ethic Advisory Committee issued an opinion on the use of court stationery. (http://www.courts.wa.gov/programs_orgs/pos_ethics/index.cfm?fa=pos_ethics.dispopin&mode=8615) Particularly relevant to Judge Heavey is this paragraph:
“A judge may have personal stationery printed which bears the title judge as long as such could not be confused with the judge’s official stationery and is not used to exploit the judicial office. The personal stationery should omit the judge’s official address and again the use should be consistent with the above.”
I don’t see how one can say with a straight face that “from the chambers of” above “Judge Michael Heavey” is anything other than an attempt to trade on prestige of the position of judge, and the fact that the address is his home rather than the court house does not remedy the vice.
Erogn that’s really interesting - I also noticed Knox has an uncanny resemblance to lizzie Bordon…is it just me?
Hi James. Great point about elected judges and their constituencies. Here is a summary of how the state/county judges get to be:
1) Appointed: California, Maine, New Jersey, Virginia (4)
2) Merit Selection: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Wyoming (23)
3) Nonpartisans Election: Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin (15)
4) Partisan Election: Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia (9)
Judge Heavey fits in the third group. He did say at one point he was not running for re-election.
From time to time and with little else to do I wander into the Seattle blog page. It has become painfully obvious to me that the tone of some of the posts therein have descended into childish name calling. Also the degree of plain nastiness has become palperal. For example there is an attempt once more, to blame the victim and not only that but blame Merediths family for being of “mixed race.” Anything but place the blame squarely where it should be. The amount of denial is indicative of a cult mentality of which Heavey is an active member. I can only put this down to senility on his part. Perhaps when all this is concluded he will resign. I just wonder when was the last time he presided over a court case because obviously he has too much time on his hands.
@ Giselle. Lizzie Borden pic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lizzie_borden.jpg
She’s a Cancer sign too,July 19.
Considering the discovery that OJ Simpson and Amanda Knox share the same birthdate, July 09, here’s some more similarities between the two cases:
Frenzied knife attack
Blood soaked glove/bathmat
Arguments about time frames
Allegations of police/prosecutorial misconduct Astroturf he’s/she’s innocent groups
And CNN, playing it up for all its worth!
Though logically there is no relevance - I totally agree with you that the universe is so complex that these ‘coincidental’ similarities have some sort of significance in the wider picture! I know a few cancerians myself and they are pretty hot headed and when enraged they seem to loose all sense of logic, surroundings and consequences(just personal observation)
Of course, Giselle. An interesting coincidence, and without impugning guilt or innocence.
(Actor Tom Hanks also shares the same birthday, July 09