After a successful fundraising campaign, the family and Free Jessie support team have retained Victoria Washington, of Masada Law. Washington has been practicing criminal law for 18 years, and the last 10 years exclusively providing capital defense at the trial and post conviction relief level. She is rule 6.8 capital-qualified with multiple capital jury trials as lead counsel. She is also a volunteer attorney with The Clemency Project, a program in which lawyers research and prepare formal petitions for clemency for individuals serving long federal prison terms for drug offenses and other charges which may have carried lower sentences because of changes in the law, sentencing guidelines, or DOJ Policy. Washington has a reputation in the Arizona legal community as a brilliant and passionate advocate for social justice, and the entire support team is grateful to have her defending Jessie Burlew. The plea was accepted and sentencing occurred to minimize Jessie’s exposure to enhanced punishment while other legal avenues are explored. Victoria Washington will now file a petition for post-conviction relief in Jessica’s case. Post-conviction relief is an appeal to re-open the criminal case to present new evidence challenging the person’s guilt or the appropriateness of the person’s sentence. It is a legal action that is most successful in cases that violate a public trust or represent a severe injustice due to unweighed aspects such as the mental health of the defendant.
After two long years, Jessie Burlew’s case finally has hope. With Victoria Washington as Jessie’s defense lawyer, a concrete defense can be launched and Jessie can finally have full involvement in her advocacy. After counsel has the opportunity to meet with Jessie and receives Jessie’s permission to do so, the support team will continue to provide legal updates when possible, but will work with the lawyer to ensure that they are not revealing defense strategies. Over the next several months, the Free Jessie team will continue to educate and share Jessie’s story, encourage responsible journalism around survivors, and provide support to Jessie and her mother. They will also be recruiting law students and activists to assist with paralegal work, to help build the strongest defense possible on such a limited budget. By the end of this week, the Free Jessie team will launch a new fundraiser to raise the remaining $10,000 for the defense witnesses, so that Jessie’s mother is not saddled with that debt.
The family and support team express enormous gratitude to all of Jessie’s supporters who worked so hard to raise the funds to give Jessie a chance in court. There will be many long months ahead while the case is prepared, but they have become much more hopeful for Jessie and her family. The criminal justice system in America heavily favors those with money and a large support network. Together, we can create our own support networks.
Together, we can fight for Jessie.
Thank you letter from Jessie to her support team:
Jessie’s legal fundraiser is hosted on this page: http://freejessieb.wix.com/fightforjessie.
Continue to follow the support effort on facebook.com/freejessieb for updates.