April 3, 2012
Will Jason Bush Be Screwed AGAIN?

Photo of Jason Bush courtesy http://jasoneugenebush.com 

Jason Bush, one of three co-defendants in the May 2009 Arivaca massacre, must have the worst luck in the world.  First he got arrested for murders he later claimed he didn’t commit.  Second, he was forced by Pima County Sheriff’s detectives to give a coerced confession while under the influence of alcohol and in great pain from a seriously infected bullet wound.  Next, he was whisked away to a Tucson jail cell without any treatment at all.  According to an x-ray done in Kingman Regional Medical Center, he carries bullet fragments in his leg.  Despite the recommendation of a doctor there that he go to surgery immediately, he was refused adequate medical treatment on the recommendation of a mercenary MD for Pima County, and has suffered nerve damage for over 2 years.

He was given two Pima County contract attorneys who were advised to torpedo his case.  One of them resisted until the second hired gun, veteran Richard Parrish, came on board.  From the moment he joined, the decision was made to concentrate on mitigation, as Bush’s conviction was assured.  Defendant Bush was not advised that no defense strategy was planned for him, despite his not guilty plea.  Bush was kept doped-up on psychotropic drugs while in pre-trial detention so that he could not help in his own defense.

When the time came for trial, his defense attorneys Christian Kimminau and Richard Parrish put on no defense at all.  They did not make an opening statement, did not cross-examine any witnesses, and Parrish’s closing was designed to inflame the jury at the heinous crime and assure Bush’s conviction.  Parrish assembled over 1500 mind-numbing pages in 4 binders describing Jason Bush’s numerous incarcerations and mental health issues.  These were flung at the jury with very little witness testimony to help sort them out.  Bush’s trial took a pitiful 10 days to reach its predestined conclusion, while the trials of his co-defendants went on 20+ days.

With government gunner Judge John Leonardo in the bombardier’s seat, the two white defendants’ hopes for acquittal were dashed on the rocky shores of racism, jury-rigging, judicial malfeasance and ineffective counsel.  

Lisa Aubuchon

When informed that Jason Bush’s attorneys did not put on a defense for their client, Lisa Aubuchon, a former prosecutor with 15 years experience, exclaimed wryly:  “I’ve never heard of anyone doing that on purpose!”  Will the ethically-challenged AZ Bar Association do anything about the bad lawyering?  Don't hold your breath!

It appears Jason Bush’s legal future is in peril again.  His appeal will be the one chance he gets at avoiding the death penalty, receiving a new trial, or getting a sentence review.  Carla Ryan in Tucson, a respected veteran death penalty appeals attorney, was appointed to represent him.  Unfortunately, she may not be given sufficient resources to put on an effective appeal.  Early in the process, Ryan asked for an extension of time to file her opening brief, as did Shawna Forde’s attorneys, due to the complexity of their clients’ cases.

She made a motion to the Arizona Supreme Court (which hears all death penalty appeals) to raise her pay from $75 an hour to $100, and to provide funds for a paralegal to help her prepare.  The court turned her down, saying it was not in their jurisdiction, and sent her back to Pima County.  Ryan must have known something that the general public didn’t. 

When she petitioned Pima County Superior Court for more funds and another attorney, she drew Judge John Leonardo, who presided over all the Arivaca massacre trials.  Leonardo should have recused himself, since he was the presiding judge, and therefore should have had nothing to do with the appeals.  He raised her pay to $100 an hour, but denied her a paralegal and another attorney.  In a February 13 motion Ryan once again appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court, asking them to reconsider, citing American Bar Association recommendations for death penalty appeals and case law.  They turned her down again.

Carla Ryan

Other attorneys have noticed that these trials were troubled by serious justice issues.  In a rare critical comment, former Pima County Public Defender Robert Hirsh said: "I was very concerned about two death penalty cases [Forde and Bush] that were tried last year. The death penalty was handed down to the clients and I think the public defender's office could've done a better job on those cases." And an East Coast attorney has noticed a serious imbalance of justice caused by victim’s rights laws.  This website contends that allowing a witness (even though she was a victim) to sit through all the court proceedings violated the defendants’ rights to due process.

In her last motion, Ryan said that Shawna Forde has four attorneys working on her appeal, while Bush only has her as a sole practitioner.  Albert Gaxiola, the Hispanic defendant who got a life sentence, has 2 defense attorneys for his appeal.  What excuse can be used by the powers that be for giving Bush such a raw deal, at every step in the criminal justice process?

Ryan is one of the best, having lost only one client to execution, but even she acknowledges that she needs help to do such an important appeal.  She cites ill health and a busy caseload in asking for an extension of the deadline to file her opening brief.  She has until April 30 to file.  For those interested in justice, the real question is this:  will Jason Bush get screwed a fifth and possibly final, time?  Death is forever.