We thank all of you who have written to the 10th Circuit of
Appeals to urge that the Court grant a pardon to Leonard Peltier. The
volume of letters received by the court will demonstrate the wide
support for justice for Leonard Peltier.
A ruling isn't expected for three or four months. If you haven't
written to the Court, we urge you to do so now.
Please do not attempt to contact the judges directly or interfere with
the Court in any way.
Please be sure to demonstrate your knowledge of the intricacies of the
case. Please also focus only on the substance of the appeal currently
before the court.
Use the following sample letter as your guide. You may also cut and
paste the text into your personal stationary.
Clerk of the Court
10th Circuit Court of Appeals
Byron White U.S. Court House
1823 Stout Street
Denver, Colorado 80257
To Whom It May Concern,
As you know, Leonard Peltier is a federal prisoner serving two
consecutive life sentences at the United States Penitentiary,
Leavenworth, Kansas, in connection with the 1975 deaths of two agents
of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the Pine Ridge Indian
Reservation in South Dakota.
Despite an almost perfect prison record since 1979, Peltier has now
been incarcerated for over 320 months (over 11 years beyond the normal
time as established by the U.S. Parole Commission's own regulations)
in connection with these offenses. This is significantly longer than
the time at which a prisoner with a good record would normally have
been granted parole under the regulations existing both at the time of
the offense and the current regulation issued by the Commission.
Nevertheless, the Commission has repeatedly stated that it will not
even consider Mr. Peltier's release on parole until December 2008, at
which time Leonard will have served almost double the normal time.
After Peltier's trial, based on documents obtained from the FBI under
Freedom of Information Act requests, Leonard's legal team discovered
that the government had withheld exculpatory evidence, including
critical ballistics data. Specifically, the legal team discovered a
memorandum by a ballistics expert dated October 2, 1975, that
unequivocally ruled out the "Wichita" AR-15 (which was purportedly
used by Leonard Peltier on June 26, 1975) as the alleged murder
weapon. The improperly withheld evidence suppressed by the FBI struck
at the heart of the government's case and the later Parole Commission
findings which were upheld by the U.S. District Court in Kansas.
One of the most telling factors in Leonard's case is the government's
changing position as the case has evolved and as further evidence of
government misconduct has been unearthed.
In 1985, during oral arguments before the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court
of Appeals on Leonard's first habeas petition, the government argued
that it did not need to prove that Leonard executed the agents at
close range and admitted that " we can't prove who shot those agents."
In 1990, Leonard brought a second habeas petition and the government
again stressed that Leonard's conviction did not rest on his
participating in the close range execution of the agents: "We knew who
participated, we knew who was murdered, but we did not know
quote-unquote who shot the agents. The facts available did not give
us direct evidence as to who did the coup-de-grace. They simply
didn't We argued inferences and we certainly argued that strongly.
But that's not the same thing as saying that we had direct evidence by
any one witness that Peltier was the one that squeezed off the final
Thus, as the evidence linking Leonard to shooting the agents began to
evaporate, and as it became more and more clear that the evidence
relied upon by the government was manufactured after the fact, the
government changed its approach from claiming that Leonard had been
the shooter to upholding Leonard's convictions on the theory of aiding
In 1995, Leonard appeared for a statutory interim parole hearing
before the same hearing examiner who had presided over his initial
parole proceeding in 1993. The hearing officer " concluded after a
review of the additional exculpatory evidence that a preponderance
finding that Peltier actually executed the agents cannot be made."
The examiner was moved by the government's statements, especially
those by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynn Crooks who had acknowledged
that " the government does not know, insofar as having the evidence to
sustain a conviction in court, that Leonard Peltier fired the fatal
bullets into the agents." The hearing examiner thus conceded that the
15-year reconsideration decision in 1993 was based on the mistaken
belief that Peltier's convictions had " included a specific or
directed finding by the jury that Peltier had fired the fatal shots
into the agents causing their deaths."
Dissatisfied with this conclusion, the U.S. Parole Commission
appointed a second hearing officer who had not been present at the
statutory interim hearing and not surprisingly disagreed with the
first examiner's recommendation. The Commission then accepted the
second officer's recommendation. From then to now, the Commission has
steadfastly refused to consider Leonard for parole until December
The Commission has failed to adequately consider the impact of the
critical exculpatory evidence that was improperly withheld by the
government at trial and which completely undermines the facts relied
upon by the Commission to establish that Leonard shot the two FBI
agents at close range. I can only conclude that Mr. Peltier's
continued incarceration and the failure of the United States to
release him on parole is based on animus. Continued imprisonment is
not supported by the reasons given by the Commission, i.e., its
finding that Leonard had been involved in an "ambush" of the two FBI
agents on June 26, 1975, and had executed them at point blank range
after they had been incapacitated.
On appeal, Leonard's legal team argued that the Commission erred
because its stated reason: (1) is not supported by Leonard's
convictions or the Eighth Circuit decisions addressing post-conviction
petitions; (2) is not supported by the evidence before the Commission;
and (3) is undermined by the material exculpatory evidence the
government improperly withheld at Leonard's trial.
I am certain that the U.S. Parole Commission's denial of parole
constitutes a violation of law, as well as being inconsistent with its
own congressionally mandated guidelines. In short, the denial of
parole in this case is an abuse of power and discretion, and violates
Leonard Peltier's constitutional rights. I urge you to immediately
issue an order that Peltier be given fair consideration for parole
directly, under appropriate factors, which consideration should lead
to his immediate parole.
Thank you for your consideration.
Send your letter TODAY.
Thank you for your support.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
PO Box 583
Lawrence, KS 66044-0583 USA
785-842-5774; 785-842-5796 (Fax)
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