By Alan Bean
In this op-ed, Texas attorney Steve Fisher argues that you don’t have to believe that Ramiro “Ramsey” Muniz is the victim of a racist frame-up to advocate for his freedom.
Friends of Justice has spent hundreds of hours examining every facet of this case, and we heartily agree.
Was Ramsey Muniz framed by racists?
No. Muniz is the victim of the same kind of federal narcotics conspiracy prosecution that put Ann Colomb and three of her sons behind bars in 2006.
Mr. Fischer says he would be surprised if Muniz is innocent. Well, Steve, prepare to be surprised.
We will have much more to say about that in a few weeks.
Who is Ramsey Muniz, you ask. Mr. Fischer provides an excellent introduction.
CORPUS CHRISTI —In the 1972 election for Texas governor, Ramiro “Ramsey” Muniz, a Corpus Christi and Waco attorney, and his La Raza Unida Party won 214,000 votes (6 percent) versus Dolph Briscoe (Democrat) and Henry Grover (GOP). In Nueces County 13,813 people voted for Muniz and he garnered another 1,388 voters in San Patricio County.
On this 40th anniversary of that election Mr. Muniz celebrates his own 70th anniversary at the Federal Penitentiary in Beaumon.Muniz, a college football star and a Baylor law graduate, is serving life without parole for his third strike against our drug laws. He was sentenced in 1994.
I am certainly not the first to write about this. The Internet is replete with editorials, most by leftist and/or ethnically motivated organizations such as The Prison Abolitionist and Chicano Mexicano Prison Project that proclaim Muniz’s innocence and denounce those who “framed” him, demanding his release. It’s hard to discern the actual facts when they are obscured by hate and covered with venom.
According to his supporters, his 1994 and final conviction was a government setup. “Three strikes you’re out” means there were two other drug offenses, so was every pitch a “foul”?I’ve been both an elected district attorney and a defense lawyer and although anything is possible, it’s hard to believe that Muniz was never guilty as charged. Muniz can’t claim he had an ineffective court-appointed attorney, as Dick De Guerin defended his last case.
In 2012 where many, including a presidential candidate, are advocating drug legalization; past drug offenses shouldn’t be shocking. Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama and scores of others admit to such. Muniz however, in his last conviction was said to be in possession of a trunk full of cocaine. I wouldn’t expect this from a successful attorney, but who really knows?
Even if guilty, so what? According to a Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council Report, the average time served for conviction of an aggravated violent offense in 1994 was 5.85 years. Nonviolent offenders served less, an average of 3.74 years. In other words, of the majority of 1994 convicts, even violent offenders were free in 2000.
Is Muniz a risk? A United States Justice Department Study “Trends in Parole” found that age is among the most reliable predictors of recidivism. Whereas more than 50 percent of 18- to 29-year-old offenders return to prison, among those older than 55 the rate was 2 percent.
Muniz didn’t live the life of a criminal. He was active in the “Model Cities’ program, Head Start and dropout prevention programs.While many in prison promise they will do good deeds if released, Muniz spent his pre-prison career working on youth programs. I cannot imagine why someone who tirelessly advocated for youth education would also be involved in the drugs that destroy them.
What I do know is Ramiro Muniz turns 70 in this, his 18th year of incarceration. Society is safe from Muniz and further prison is a waste of our money.I never voted for Muniz for governor, but I do acknowledge his place in Texas history. Let Ramsey Muniz out of prison to live his remaining years with his family and those who believe in him.
President Obama –This decision isn’t about re-election polls, it’s about time.
Rockport Attorney Steve Fischer in an elected director of the State Bar of Texas. He has been Willacy County Attorney and District Attorney, and a professor of criminology at the University of Texas-P