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Letters of Support: #ClemencyForMichael

Last week, Michael Tisius's legal team submitted a clemency application to Governor Parson. This application was accompanied by a collection of letters from organizations and individuals expressing their support, shedding light on the systemic flaws present within the death penalty system.

A particularly noteworthy letter came from a group of law professors representing each of Missouri's law schools. Their letter delves into the incompetence displayed by prior legal counsel and highlights the unethical nature of the flat-fee payment arrangement for capital defenders. They write:


As this letter will explain, we strongly support the clemency petition for Michael Tisius primarily on the basis that his resentencing counsel, who received a low flat fee of $10,000, had a personal conflict of interest in that the low flat fee incentivized them to minimize the time spent on his representation.


In addition, the Co-Directors at MacArthur Justice Center contributed a letter focusing on the impact of Michael's age on his level of culpability. They provide compelling arguments as to why his youth should be considered a mitigating factor, rendering him less deserving of the irreversible and ultimate punishment that is the death penalty.


Michael’s crime was tragic and senseless. It also has all the hallmarks of a juvenile crime: group action with an older adult who had great influence over him, in an emotional and fast-moving situation. In a highly stressful escape attempt, a traumatized youth’s ability to make rational decisions, and resist the surge of adrenaline, emotion, and hormones, is significantly impaired.


These letters of support serve to expose and analyze the significant flaws ingrained within the death penalty system, emphasizing the urgent need for clemency in Michael Tisius's case. They come in addition to letters from former Potosi Warden Troy Steele and the Apostolic Nuncio, echoing calls for #ClemencyForMichael.


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