Greater Than Our Worst Mistakes

This is a paper that Daniel sent.  He initially wanted it to be included with the last blog post, but I thought that it deserved to be its own entry.  It was written by a fellow inmate, Peter M. Dunne, as part of his coursework for the BARD College Program at Green Haven Correctional Facility. 

GREATER THAN OUR WORST MISTAKES

If you surveyed the average individual and asked them their opinion on prisoners’ intellectual levels and ability to empathize, there would be little, if any, ambiguity in their response.  They would, most likely, tell you that all prisoners are unintelligent savages devoid of emotion.  They would tell you that all prisoners are killers, robbers, burglars, rapists and thugs.  They would tell you that all prisoners are sociopaths who, as children, took mind-altering substances, tortured small animals and occasionally mistook paint chips for Pringles.  And they would tell you that all prisoners are menences to society, civilization, and must be locked away forever.

Like subjective reasoning, nothing could be further from the truth: behind these walls – barriers less newsworthy than the ones in China and Berlin – are individuals who possess MENSA-levels of intelligence as well as a thorough understanding of how pretentious “MENSA-levels” could sound to biased and privileged individuals who, subconsciously, fear autodidactic “criminals” that know when CNN talks about The 1%, they are not referring to low-fat milk.  There are individuals who know wisdom not to come from booksmarts but to come from empirical knowledge, life experiences – better yet, other’s experiences.  There are individuals who are magnificent artists, actors and musicians.  And there are individuals who write breathtaking prose and poetry, that know the differences between the active and passice voice, skillfully emoloying both in their writing – able enough to know that a semicolon connects two, closely-linked, independant clauses; and innovative enouh to challenge literaty standards and knock down intellectual walls.  These unpolished dimonds cannot be ignored – cloudly symbols of a high will, they shine bright as Osiris.

In the Land of the Lost, the Realm of the Dead, the Forgotten, there are legends waiting to be born.  To be Reborn.  Behind these walls live Tony Morrison, Junot Dias, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Che Guevara, Tenzin Gyatso, Ghandi, Muhammad, Jesus and Buddha.  Behind these walls live fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, and sons and daughters. Behind these walls live men and women who bleed and cry, laugh and smile.  Behind these walls live individuals that care deeply about others – even the society that’s casted them away into a metaphorical gutter, like used condoms and crack stems.

If you took the average individual on a tour through this concrete jungle they might realize that they’ve been living in an abstract civilization, a world disconnected from reality, like reality shows on a stolen Wi-Fi signal. Would you show them how deep the rabbit hole goes?  Would you tell them the truth?  What if they already knew the truth? What if they already knew but told themselves they didn’t?  Could they know the truth?  Could they handle the truth?   Tell me: what is truth? And, tell me, what would happen to their perfect little worlds if one day they made a mistake, a big mistake, that lifted them off of their feet and threw them out of heaven?  What if they closed their eyes and woke up in hell?  Would they go back to sleep and hide in their nightmare or would they stay awake and face their reality?

Imagine if you could show the average individual that heaven and hell are no different, that there is no “use” and “them” but we. What would the average individual think about that?  WOuld they feel saved?  Saved from what?  What would they think if our worlds converged and they discovered that we are alike yet also unique, like a dysfunctionaly family?  Imagine if you told them that we are all a part of that dysfunctional family, that humanity is a dysfuntional family, a house of children without adult supervision.  IMagine if they understood how exceptional and significant we are, how we are anything byt average.  “Average” is for robots and gods.  We are somthing different – something different that wants to be seen differently than before.  We are human.  Mortal. Imperfect. Perfectly imperfect.

Not all of us are lost, not all of us are found.

But we are all greater than our worst mistakes.

Peter M. Dunne is an inmate in the New York State  Department of Corrections serving an 18 year sentence for manslaughter.  You can write to him at Peter M. Dunne, #11-A-0671, Green Haven Correctional Facility, PO Box 4000, Stormville, NY 12582. 

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Judgments Based in Truth

I am nearing a period in my life where I had imagined the time and effort put forth while in prison would help me transition to a life outside of prison.  Instead, I find myself facing a whole other challenge.  Reaching out to others in an attempt tp prove my innocence is not where I thought I would be right now.  However, it is a reality I have to deal with.  Am I salty at this new set of circumstances?  Yes, but I manage these emotions and move forward.

It has been my experience there are those who will mock, ignore or criticize every and anything I say, do, or write. Overtime, that will be their loss.

For those of you who read this with honest intent; there is a lot which has been said about what I have done in and with my life.  I look back on many decisions with degrees of regret.  None more than having taken a man’s life. How I view this and other events in my life has constantly evolved with time.  The characterization that I’m incapable of empthany and understanding of the pain I have caused is nothing more than misinformation.  So are the assertions that I have spent my time in prison learning to be a a smarter, more devious criminal.  The rhetoric is designed to dehumanize me and fuel outrage.

I take ownership and wear the weight of my wrongs, I will not passively wear those that are not of my doing. On the same token, I am not in fear of being judged. I merely ask that you do so based on truth.  Is that too much to ask for?

To close, I would like to share a paper

Post-Conviction Primer

Usually, before I put these entries together I wonder if there is a right or wrong way of writing a blog.  I imagine they are diverse.  I’m just not in a situation where I can look for myself. So with this in mind, I will always invite suggestions and try to answer questions that come my way.

Today’s Entry Covers

  • Post-Conviction in a nutshell and status
  • Something to look back on
  • Developments

Post-Conviction: Nutshell Primer & Status

 

I believe it would be beneficial for everyone reading to have some semblance of the post-conviction process and landscape for inmates.  This includes proceedings and factors controlling the how, who, and what you can and can’t do.  There are several reasons why law books are dauntingly thick, one of them is that they use a lot of words in order to narrowly define pretty much everything.  Going forward, this is the everyday English version as it applies to me.

In New York, if you are convicted of a felony at trial you have the right to appeal your conviction to the Appellate Division.  When appealing your conviction, you are limited to arguing only the issues which were objected to and present on the record (e.g. motions, exhibits, and trial transcripts). These parameters stay in effect throughout the layers of the appeals process unless you file a motion to expand the record.  We will come back to this and other controlling factors, but for the moment let’s continue along the court roadmap.

If you are shot down at the Appellate Division you can request permission to enter the Court of Appeals.  Entry is discretionary and not a right.  The Court of Appeals is the highest court in the state of New York. From this point, we move into the federal system which consists of District Court, Circuit Court, and the highest court in the country, the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way there are strict timelines and rules you must adhere to.  At present my deadline for submission to the Federal District Court was March 4, 2016. Which I barely made due to some issues with the mail here.

Back to expanding the record. This is done in order to present new issues such as new evidence, challenges to the truthfulness of testimony you must first raise it in a motion which gets submitted to the trial court and that court can decide if it would have effected the jury’s finding of guilty.

Since my trial lasted a mere three days there isn’t much of a record to appeal.  The court appointed counsel not having prepared any defense does not help. So a lot of my focus is on collecting evidence to demonstrate my innocence.  This takes on many forms, some is analysis of physical evidence, and some is providing records to refute statements made by prosecution witnesses.  Ultimately, all of this will get folded into a motion and submitted to the trial court.

It is worth noting, how difficult this is to do from a prison cell.  As this blog and site evolves you will come to learn some of the reasons why. For an authoritative view read Laurie L. Levenson’s article, Searching for Injustice: The Challenge of Post- conviction Discovery, Investigation and Litigation (S. Cal. Law Review, 2014).  This article provides of picture of what I am faced with.

Something to Look Back On

Immediately after this conviction was a very difficult period for me.  One of the few things I drew strength from was the actions of an anonymous source – unless I learn otherwise, a complete stranger – I Had been informed about comments being made on a local newspaper’s website.  The comments were mostly negative with few exceptions.  One person, who seemed to have more than a cursory knowledge of legal proceedings went to bat for me at length.  The person used the screen name js4480.

While something such as this is seemingly inconsequential, it helped me at that time.  I plan on providing credence to these comments.

Developments

Sometimes even small victories deserve mention.  A couple of weeks ago, I received some records I had been trying to get for nearly three years.  Had I been wiser to the law this time could have been cut down significantly.

These records merely identify who the investigator was that the court appointed counsel hired to assist in the preparation of my defense.  I had never met him not knew his name and there exists no record of his work in the case file my former attorney turned over. I Have since written him request the records of his investigation.  I will keep everyone posted as to what comes of this.

 

 

Counterfeit things

There is a two to four week lag between the time a write an entry and the time it is posted.  At present, we are in the midst of the holiday season.  With this in mind, there are people to whom I owe a great deal of gratitude.  I am fortunate to have friends that help me in different facets of my life. Without them, life would be far more difficult.  Those of you know who you are. Thank you.

As to happenings this week:

  •  Received some records I had been seeking for quite some time. It goes to show that some of my efforts are beginning to pay dividends.
  • Addressed some of the items on my ever present and dreaded “To Do List”
  • Kept up with my exercise
  • Completed two drawings
  • Set some realistic goals for 2016

It feels good to look back on the week and say I accomplished something. A toast to continuing this trend.

Next week, I will pull up my sleeves and cover my post-conviction affairs.

To close, I want to share a quote I encountered doing my research,

Truth and falsehood, it has been well said, are not always opposed to each other like black and white, but oftentimes, and by design are made to resemble each other so as to be hardly distinguishable; just as the counterfeit thing is counterfeit because it resembles the genuine thing.” – Sir Anthony Cleasby  (English jurist, 1871)

 

Self-Discipline

Last week marked the conclusion of Project Builds, Exodus Re-Entry Class of 2015. I was one of forty-plus men who attended weekly classes on Monday evenings for nine months. The curriculum spanned a broad range of topics aimed at equipping us with the knowledge and resources to successfully re-integrate into society and bring value to our communities.

This week I found myself wondering what I should do with this chunk of time I had previously dedicated to Exodus. I decided it was best to apply some of what I learned to I stayed in my cell and did homework.  By this I mean focus  on getting my life back on track.

I want to share one of the lessons that stood out and how I’m using it today.  The topic was self-discipline and it probably made the biggest impression on me for two reasons.  One, I know this is an area where I struggle. The second reason had a lot to do with the presenter.  He didn’t merely speak on some methodology copped from a psyche construct. He used events in his own life to demonstrate how applying a sound system of self-discipline step by step can and will yield results. Over the course of eleven years, he and the network of people he built up overturned an eighty years – life Federal conviction. That got my attention! I will post the “model” we discussed in class so you can check it out yourselves. There exist many different methods but it mostly boils down to following through.

self-discipline-page-001

 

I look back in areas of my life and there is ample proof that when I apply myself I tend to meet some measure of success. So why have my legal affairs not followed? That is a story for another day!  In the meantime, I’ll be in the law library this evening, finalizing a list of questions for an avenue of investigation then a refresher on FOIL requests and Article 78’s.

I’d like to be out in the yard working out, talking on the phone with my girl or just getting some fresh air among my own thoughts. However, the yard will be there tomorrow.  I am confident my girl knows I love her.  I need to get my life back on track.

Breaking Insanity

There are times when it becomes necessary to evaluate one’s methodology; filter through your mistakes, take what you’ve learned and reboot.  Otherwise, you’ll only continue to get the same results.  Going forward this thought process will be reflected in my actions and this site’s content in an effort to more effectively communicate what is being done in real time and what still needs to be done.

Some of the lack of progress is a result of my own doing.  For some reason, I envisioned things righting themselves on their own.  *shakes head* I could not have been more wrong.

In my attempts to prove my innocence, I’ve often made the right strides only to find myself overwhelmed by the litigation and slowed by the lack of legal insight. Also, there are the obstacles presented by living in prison; where often getting through each day is an accomplishment unto itself.  However, these are merely excuses.  Now I need to overcome them and all the banana peels that get thrown down along the way.

The last five years have taught me many hard learned lessons.  Rather contradictory, some of what I learned is that I can not do everything alone nor can I blindly rely upon any one individual.  In turn, I ask for your advice and/or questions.  In coming weeks I hope to use or address your feedback.

-Daniel Malak

Concerns about comments

Dear Readers,

It has come to our attention that there is some concern regarding comments being deleted or not approved.  To date zero comments have been deleted and zero comments have not been approved.  There is, however, an approval process that all comments go through, so while you see your comment initially after you click “submit” it gets emailed to our office and the volunteer staff approves them as they are able.

Statements made via the ‘Contact Us’ tab on truthofmalak.org will not show up here as it’s purpose is to provide additional information regarding Daniel’s appeal. We do, however, keep a record of them for future use.

The Truth of Malak welcomes ALL comments, though we do reserve the right to edit out profanity.

Should there be any more questions or concerns regarding comments please let our staff know.

Thank you for taking the time to read the website and the blog.  Over the next few months there will be several updates and new information posted that I hope you check back in to read.

– Truthy Magee

Director of Content

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The story up to now….

If you’d like to read the background on why Daniel deserves a new trial you can read that here.  What you should gather from it is simply this:

Daniel’s court appointed lawyer, Paul Gruner, didn’t represent his client’s interest.   There are several instances provided where that is apparent from persons perjuring themselves to the lack of investigations.

In the Discovery ID program the DA (I believe it was the DA though I could be wrong..I’ll go back and look) even admits that there wasn’t enough evidence to indict Daniel without a corroborating witness, which they found in Chris Cain.   Did Cain receive anything in return for his testimony?  Why didn’t he come forward with this information earlier?

Didn’t anyone think it was odd that the police records from 1996 say one thing but, after Barsky confesses the stories from the State Trooper and others who were interviewed on the record in 1996 changed to match what was said by Alexander Barsky?

These are just a few instances of inconsistencies that are actually relevant in Daniel’s conviction.

 

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The website is UP!

 

 

After months debating with Daniel if we should have a webpage or not we finally decided to get everything together and get one up.  This blog is a part of it, so if you’re finding the blog from the website THANK YOU for taking the time to look.  If you’ve found the blog just by luck.. GO LOOK AT THE WEBSITE!

The blog will be updated as things happen.

Currently, Daniel and his appointed lawyer are still working towards his appeal for the 2010 conviction.

We don’t really have any delusions that this is going to be anything but an uphill battle.  What would really be helpful right now is if anyone in the area wouldn’t mind looking at a few newspaper archives for a few news articles (I can provide you with the date range and know which library they are at).

If you want to do that, let me know, and I’ll see about reimbursing you for gas etc.

For now, please keep sending positive energy and thoughts our way.

 

 

 

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Things as they stand…

Currently; Daniel Malak is serving a combined total of 35-life at Green Haven Correctional Facility.  He passes his time working on his appeal, working out and drawing.  He will go to the parole board in 2032.

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