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Rev. Edward Pinkney wins again

Rev. Edward Pinkney  |  Issue: June | July 2018
Rev. Edward Pinkney and supporters

Rev. Edward Pinkney, a leader in the fight against corporate power in Benton Harbor, MI, and his supporters gather outside the Michigan Supreme Court chambers, where his case was being heard in January 2018. In May, 2018, the Court overturned his conviction. Pinkney unjustly served 30 months in prison.


BENTON HARBOR, MI — Let the truth be told. I, Rev. Edward Pinkney was charged in Berrien County, Michigan with five felony counts of election forgery under Michigan Compiled Law (MCL) 937, and six misdemeanor counts of making a false statement in a certificate of recall of a recall petition under MCL 168.957 for having submitted petitions with falsified dates or allowing a person to sign the petition twice.

This was in connection with an effort to recall the puppet mayor James Hightower of Benton Harbor who supported the blood-sucking Whirlpool Corporation, the dominant corporation in the area.

I was bound over to the Berrien County Circuit Court with no evidence for trial. I moved to quash the charges, arguing that MCL 168.937 was only a penalty and not a crime or a substantive chargeable offense. The court judge Sterling Schrock denied the motion. I was convicted by an all-white jury trial. The jury was motivated by something other than the truth. I was convicted in Berrien County Circuit Court of all five counts of election forgery, with absolutely no evidence, but was acquitted of all six counts of allowing a person to sign the petition twice on a recall petition. I was sentenced to 30 to 120 months in prison.

The Michigan Court of Appeals, better known as the three blind mice, Judge O’Brien, Judge Kelly and Judge Hood, upheld my conviction stating that MCL 168.937 created the substantive offense of election law forgery. But I knew better. I said there is no such charge as forgery on a recall petition under MCL 168.937. I then applied for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court, which ordered and heard oral arguments on whether to grant the application or take other peremptory action.

In a unanimous opinion by Justice Viviano, the Michigan Supreme Court, in lieu of granting leave to appeal, held that MCL 168.937 by its plain language is only a penalty provision. It does not set forth a substantive offense. As a result, I was not properly charged with a crime. Therefore, the Supreme Court ruled this conviction must be vacated and all the charges dismissed.

A combination of factors made this unjust conviction of me possible: a prosecutor and judge, under the thumb of Whirlpool, who worked together to convict me because of my anti-corporate political activity; an all white jury, none of whom resided in Benton Harbor; and an appellate court that sided with the government.

Let us make this struggle a victory for all the people. Let us take control of this country, away from the corporations, and build a society where the people, not the corporations, make the decisions.

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