What follows is a No Parole Peltier Association letter sent to Mr. James Reynolds on 11/6/17 asking a few straightforward and critical questions in response to the letter he sent to President Obama and an interview given to the New York Daily News supporting clemency for Leonard Peltier. Mr. Reynolds made a conscious decision and placed his support for Peltier in the public domain. Doing so makes his public statements subject to scrutiny.
No response was received from Mr. Reynolds.
However, on 11/27/17 Mr. Reynolds was reached by telephone, and in a brief, but telling conversation, confirmed that he had received the NPPA letter. A response to Mr. Reynolds and the explanation of the letter below will follow in a subsequent blog: James Reynolds, Part III.
“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
Mr. James H. Reynolds
300 Palm Dr. #4
Naples, Florida 34112
Re: Leonard Peltier, clemency
Dear Mr. Reynolds:
It matters little if this letter is a bit late; it’s never too late to ask why you supported clemency for the convicted murderer Leonard Peltier with your letter to President Obama—or to ask you to explain the disconcerting public statements you made to the New York Daily News concerning Peltier.*
Your letter stated that preceding you in office was U.S. Attorney Evan Hultman, who had prosecuted Peltier and that you “…directed Hultman’s handling of the appeal of Leonard Peltier after my appoint (sic).” This would apparently indicate that you were intimate, or at the very least familiar, with the details of the unprovoked attack and brutal murders of FBI Agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams, Peltier’s trial, conviction and subsequent multiple appeals. As you were no doubt aware at the time of their deaths, Agent Williams was single and Agent Coler left behind a widow and two young sons, ages three and one and a half.
Your brief letter (which had been previously questioned**) stated that you “would join in any Request for Clemency of Leonard Peltier by (President Obama) as being in the best interest of justice in considering the totality of all matters involved.”
However, your public statements to the media raised a number of crucial issues and questions that beg for an honest response.
You stated, “Forty years is enough,” which prompts the first question.
How many years are enough to serve for two brutal murders? Thus far into Peltier’s consecutive life sentences (not to forget also the seven consecutive years he owes for the armed escape from Lompoc Penitentiary), he has served 20 ½ years each for Jack Coler and Ron Williams. In your judgment is that enough for brutal slayings? Exactly how much is enough for blowing away the faces of two—already severely wounded—human beings? Before you answer, consider if those deaths had involved members of your own family. Would that make any difference since you obviously didn’t know or have a personal relationship with the dead agents?
(Peltier appropriately received consecutive life sentences and in our opinion serving all of that is enough. Then we can give him a pass on the other seven years.)
You added that you weren’t convinced of Peltier’s guilt: “I don’t know. Who knows?” and then stunningly stated regarding Peltier’s case, “we might have shaved a few corner(s) here and there.”
This raises some serious questions. Since you allegedly “directed Evan Hultman (and presumably Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynn Crooks), what did you know regarding Peltier’s case that either they or the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (particularly Judge Gerald Heaney***) didn’t know that would have affected Peltier’s conviction, sentencing or appeals?
Are you knowingly and publicly admitting to any wrongdoing that occurred under your direction as the United States Attorney while simultaneously casting serious aspersions on the reputations of former U.S. Attorney Evan Hultman and quintessential career federal prosecutor, Lynn Crooks? Basically, the NPPA is calling you out on this.
In one of the many appeals, the Eighth Circuit stated, “Peltier was equally well-represented at trial and on appeal.”
Over decades of appeals Peltier had many competent, experienced and aggressive attorneys who collectively examined every aspect of his conviction in excruciating detail—from the serious (October 2,1975 FBI Laboratory Teletype that led to a three-day evidentiary hearing) to the frivolous (“Peltier’s arguments fail because they are fatally flawed”).
Peltier’s case has been under the proverbial microscope since day one.
While you consider a response, we want to bring you up to date on some of Peltier’s public statements and tacit admissions of guilt:
Peltier, not obliquely, since you were part of the government, referred to it as “blind, stupid, or without human feelings.” Was Peltier correct in that assessment as it relates to you? Peltier said, “white racist America is the criminal.” Was Peltier correct? When you served in government, were you, or are you, a white racist? Peltier claimed he was a “scapegoat” and “was the last Indian left to railroad for the deaths of their two agents.” So, Mr. Reynolds, are you culpable in scapegoating Leonard Peltier?
We suspect that you would rightly deny all that, but then there’s your interview with the NY Daily News. Perhaps you misspoke or they misquoted you?
As a further update, since you publically called for Peltier’s clemency, where you aware that he has remorselessly said:
“And really, if necessary, I’d do it al over again because it was the right thing to do.” (Leonard Peltier, February 2010)
“I don’t regret any of this for a minute.” (Leonard Peltier, August 2014)
Ironically, included in the very clemency petition that you publicly supported, his attorney allowed this: “I did not wake up on that June 26 planning to injure or shoot federal agents, and did not gain anything from participating in the incident.”
No regrets, he’d do it again, it was the right thing to do, wasn’t planning—at any rate—to injure or shoot federal agents and, he acknowledged participating. (And there is much more…)
Mr. Reynolds, would you care to clarify your position that Peltier’s consecutive life sentences should have been commuted? Keep in mind though that the U.S. Pardon Attorney, the U.S. Attorney General and ultimately, President Obama agreed that Peltier should continue to serve his consecutive life sentences for the brutal murders of Jack Coler and Ron Williams.****
“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
(last accessed 10/30/17)