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Can Shawna Forde Get a Fair Trial in Tucson’s Superheated Atmosphere?


By Rob Sanchez

Shawna Forde, a Minuteman and immigration activist is being held in a Pima County jail while awaiting trial for a double homicide, robbery and assault.  The crimes allegedly happened during a robbery attempt at the Flores home in Arivaca, AZ on May 2009.  According to the state Forde was the mastermind of a plan to rob drug cartel hangouts in order to fund a new organization called the Minutemen American Defense.  Forde, along with two others are being accused of killing Raul “Junior” Flores, 29, and his daughter, Brisenia, 10, of Arivaca, Arizona. So Forde is being accused of being a grand puppeteer of a twisted plot to raise money.

There is very good reason to doubt that Forde and the alleged gunman Jason Bush, and alleged co-conspirator Albert Gaxiola can get fair trials in Tucson, Arizona. Pima County and its largest city, Tucson, have been poisoned by a seething cauldron of hatred over the illegal immigration controversy. The polarization of the community took a turn for the worse in Tucson in the aftermath of the mass murders perpetrated by Jared Loughner.

Shawna Forde is as much a political prisoner as a criminal defendant.  In the minds of the deranged open border advocates she is a symbol of the evil white racists. There is a lynch mob mentality in that city that wants Shawna to burn at the stake regardless of innocence or guilt.  Their pseudo-intellectual thinking process seems to work something like this:

  • Shawna Forde is a Minuteman.
  • All Minutemen are evil racists that kill brown people.
  • Jared Loughner is a right-winger like the Minutemen and he killed people.
  • Therefore Shawna is guilty of murder.

False logic of this type would not fool most people, but the open border treason lobby and propagandists like the SPLC don’t operate by the rules of logic — they use left-wing hysteria to fan the flames of political angst.

Forde has become an icon of the Minuteman movement and the border enforcement movement.  Her enemies hoped that her brutal incarceration, including solitary confinement, and the threat of the death penalty would force her to be silent on immigration, but she will not be silenced. The following is a short excerpt she wrote to me about a month ago (I did some minimum editing to her writing):

Along the border Mexicans seem to have arrived at victory or at least something that feels like a stalemate with Americans.  So, the citizens of the United States were forced to organize along the border in a call to arms to protest against the flesh peddlers, drug dealers, and violent criminals — and so came the MINUTEMEN.  “Everything humans do entails risk”.

Shawna Forde, December 2010

I have had more recent communications with Shawna Forde.  She expressed grave concern over the mass murders in Tucson and how those events could adversely bias her chances of being treated fairly.  She is justifiably worried that the corrosive atmosphere generated by the mass murders has created a lynch mob mentality that will make it impossible for her to get a fair trial.

Jury selection was set to begin next week for the trial of Shawna Forde but the volatile situation in Tucson has thrown a monkey wrench into the trial.

At the Courthouse: Forde trial begins, by Kim Smith, January 5, 2011

Defense attorney Eric Larsen said he told the judge during the hearing Monday he, himself, didn’t feel emotionally equipped to move forward with the trial as he personally knew Roll.

Start of Arivaca-killings trial delayed, by Kim Smith Arizona Daily Star, January 12, 2011

Eric Larsen is taking the morally correct action by asking for a delay of trial because of the stress he feels from his emotional attachment to deceased District Judge John Roll, one of Loughner’s mass murder victims.  Larsen’s request for a delay illustrates a far deeper story — one of a collegial justice system that has a complex set of personal relationships.  Can Shawna Forde expect Eric Larsen to represent her fairly?

Over the weekend Shawna sent me a message that there will be an attempt by her lawyer to move the trial date to March or even later in order for Tucson to recover from the state of hysteria and fear the mass murders caused.  Every day the trial is delayed is one more day she suffers in that miserable and inhumane jail.  It’s been over 18 months since she has had a trial and all that time has been spent in solitary confinement, sometimes in shackles.  Pima County said they put her in solitary to protect her from the Mexican gangs that rule the jail system.

Many people questioned whether Shawna Forde could get a fair trial in the seething culture of hate in Tucson.  The mass murders perpetrated by Jared Loughner illustrate how the liberal left will try use the incident to pin the blame for all their ills on conservatives. They tried to link Loughner to right-wing extremists and even went as far as blaming Palin and the Tea Party.

The angry lynch mob composed of extreme leftists and open border communists will soon be focusing their attention on Shawna Forde.  When that happens a fair trial will be impossible.

Jared Loughner, the mass murderer of Tucson, Arizona will ask for a change of venue for the his trial.  It’s not known if he will get it, but he was able to get a judge from another state to preside over the trial because every Arizona judge recused themselves.

In an order issued today, U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver says that the impartiality of the Arizona judges could be affected by the fact that U.S. District Judge John Roll was killed when, police say, Jared Loughner went on a shooting rampage outside an Arizona supermarket.

Loughner Case Will Be Heard By California Judge, by Eyder Peralta, NPR, January 12, 2011

It’s not entirely clear what “fair” means in Jared Loughner’s case since there is no doubt that he is responsible for mass murders of innocent people and the wounding of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  Perhaps fairness will be a factor when the court decides what to do with him.  The important thing to pay attention to is that U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver said that Loughner couldn’t get a fair trial without a change of venue. The same rationale should be used for changing the venue of Forde’s trial.

Asking for a change of venue is a smart decision because there is little chance Loughner will get a fair hearing in Pima County Court System in Tucson, Arizona.  Neither will Forde.

The following news excerpt shows how far along the trial is progressing. Potential jurors were asked if they knew anything about the case. I can’t imagine who they could find anywhere near Tucson that hasn’t heard the biased innuendo about Shawna Forde.  Even if they speak Spanish they would know about Forde.

Two hundred and twenty-five people showed up in Pima County Superior Court this morning to answer 41 questions that will help attorneys decide who should serve on Shawna Forde’s jury.

Forde is accused of being behind the May 2009 murder of Arivaca resident Raul Flores and his 9-year-old daughter Brisenia.

Prospective jurors were handed an 18-page questionnaire and those who aren’t immediately dismissed based on their answers will be back in court next Tuesday for face-to-face questioning.  Opening statements will be heard as soon as the jury is seated.

Among other things, the jurors were asked if they know the facts of the case, would they be able to ignore media reports when making a decision and how they would describe their political views.

They were also asked if they have any opinions regarding private organizations monitoring or defending the border, if they’ve heard of Forde’s group Minutemen American Defense and if they have any strong opinions on illegal immigration.

How people answer the questions will be key as prosecutors contend Forde thought Flores was a drug dealer and recruited a group to raid his house for drugs, cash and guns to help MAD.

Jurors were also asked their views on the death penalty since prosecutors will seek to have Forde executed if she’s convicted.

At the Courthouse: Forde trial begins, by Kim Smith Arizona Daily Star, January 5, 2011

Recently events that have unfolded bode bad for Shawna Forde.  Her lawyer asked for a change of venue but it was denied.  I received this disturbing communication from Forde:

Judge Leonardo denied my request for Change of Venue.  I am stunned!  After the shootings in Tucson, there is no way I can get a fair trial!

Shawna Forde, January 11, 2011

Judge Leonardo has a reputation of being a liberal activist judge who has been an adversary of County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.  His actions suggest that he is more interested in indicting Forde than in giving her the benefit of the doubt.

Asking for the death penalty for a woman who is only being accused of accessory to murder, not the shooting of the gun or the actual murder, is highly unusual but it didn’t seem to stop Leonardo.  Judge Leonardo overruled attempts by Forde’s lawyers to object to the death penalty.

Leonardo isn’t the type of judge that Shawna needs in order to get just treatment, but due to her previous Public Defender’s exercise of the right to change judges, she is not allowed ask for a different judge.  At this point it seems that Jared Loughner is getting better treatment in the court system even though there is no doubt that he slaughtered 6 people. In contrast, Shawna Forde is getting boxed into a situation that is starting to look like a kangaroo court.


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