Petitions Signed

Joe explains how he chose which inmates to offer legal assistance to.

Joe Hunt explains how he chose which inmates to offer legal assistance to, and several ways that he did this.

Transcript:

So you asked about what sort of results I’ve gotten for other prisoners who’ve been seeking to either overturn their conviction or to be acquitted at trial.

I’ve spent 9 years of my life in county jails, about half in L.A. county jail and half in San Mateo, about 7 of those years while I was actively pro per—which means representing myself. So, many prisoners came to me to ask for help with their cases.

I was very selective about who I chose to assist, and factors about what they were charged with and who they were played a major role.

I was not interested in helping people that I felt were what I would call sick with it; in other words, they were going to choose the criminal lifestyle…

In any event, there have been sixteen people that were either facing life sentences or had life sentences that I’ve assisted to regain their freedom—about evenly split between people that I mentored while I was in county jail so that they would be acquitted.

These were guys that were representing themselves and people that I filed habeas petitions for, or on behalf of, from prison that were released by the courts.

In addition, there were dozens of people that got reductions in sentences as a result of petitions that I filed.

Video: Joe Hunt describes his theory of what happened to Ron Levin.

Joe talks about what he thinks happened to Ron Levin. It’s likely that Levin jumped bail, especially in light of witness accounts that Levin was researching Brazilian extradition treaties and had inquired about dyeing his hair.

Transcript:

I have thought about this a great deal over the years and tried to extrapolate what he would do or did in that situation so you know, his actual fate as a matter of personal knowledge is a mystery to me because my last point of contact with him was June 5th.

So far as I can reconstruct and recall, what I have seen of course is the same eyewitness accounts that my jury in San Mateo heard, about people in some cases had prior
relationships with Ron, had been over to his house, as Gerard had been for dinner, or had contact with him like Robbie Robinson and had seen him subsequently.

So those eyewitness reports, and some of them were asked to take polygraphs, and the ones who were asked took polygraphs passed them with flying colors. And so those reports have been persuasive to me of the fact that Ron Levin was alive through the last sighting, which was three years after his disappearance in Mykonos, the island of Mykonos in Greece.

I’ve also, since I’ve worked so hard on this case, I’ve seen the testimony and read interviews
of people like Oliver Wendell Holmes (no relationship to the great jurist), but he was employed by Levin to work on Levin’s pending criminal cases. The charges Levin was facing before he disappeared and he said that Levin was discussing with him and researching Brazil’s extradition treaties and policies, which I find highly suspicious.

How many people are doing that right before they jump bail?

You know and then furthermore, John Duran, his hairdresser at the time said that Levin called him right before he disappeared and asked him how do I dye my hair. And then detective Les Douler tells us that brown stains that he tested and were not from blood but there was some brown staining in the porcelain of Levin’s bathtub which would be consistent with some last minute change to his hair color.

Now when he was seen late in ’86 and ’87, he had his gray hair, so the postulate and the hypothesis is that Levin initially decided to change his hair but didn’t like it and letting it grow back out grey by when he was seen in Tucson Arizona and when he was seen on the island of Mykonos.

Levin’s grey hair was one of his most striking features people say that he was kind of a he had a very distinctive look back in ’84, in ’83 in Beverly Hills. He graced the cover of a magazine once.

Anyhow, so based on the information evidence that I’ve seen and also based on statements of Levin made in my presence where he said that he would never go back to prison. I deduced a long time ago that he fled and when he was no longer available after June 6, 1984 and I couldn’t get a hold of him and I heard other people couldn’t get a hold of him, and by June 24th I had concluded that he had fled.

He had a pending case so he couldn’t just up and leave without violating the terms of his bail and he wouldn’t just violate the terms of his bail unless he intentionally fled so that was the conclusion I reached and I think it’s the conclusion the Beverly Hills Department reached for the first couple of months as well.

Joe Hunt describes how the bleakness of prison life can lead to suicide.

Joe describes how the bleakness of prison life can lead to thoughts of suicide.

Transcript:

Yes, I’ve been on yards that were so dark, I mean what we’re talking about is referred to in the prison system as active mainlines—like active level 4 mainlines in the California system.

An extremely dysfunctional society exists—as tribal—and the men are under tremendous pressure, and it’s bleak.

So, a lot of people commit suicide.

They don’t do it necessarily by hanging themselves, most often it’s a drug overdose. And a number of people that are brought back from overdoses now is really high because they have a special drug that they use to bring them back.

Otherwise, most of these people would have been successful. But you know, the level of despondency, despair, depression, as a result of the conditions of confinement, on active main lines is high.

And what was called the SHU, Special Housing Unit, for a number of years had guys that were doing 20-30 years behind walls, with no outside exercise other than what we call a dog run, which is just like a 10×10 cement area opened to the sky.

They get an hour of that or something a day, so in that level of misery, suicide becomes something that many people think about, a lot of people attempt, and of course, tragically some people succeed at.

That is probably the most primary and basic offense against the spirit—against the human spirit—possible.

Joe Hunt and the miracle of the donuts

Joe Hunt describes an uncanny experience involving law enforcement, donuts, and his spiritual beliefs.

Transcript:

It was 1987, I was in the Los Angeles County Jail in what they call the high power wing. So with me are people that have had fights and serious disciplinary problems in L.A. County Jail, people that are down from the penitentiary that are considered potential threats to the security of the institution, and high profile cases like myself.

So I got my own cell along this tier, and I’d just finished reading the Autobiography of a Yogi, which is considered the crest jewel of all spiritual autobiographies by many people—and I think the most read autobiography of all time. Anyhow, I’ve just finished the book, and the book is full of stories of things that are beyond all of our experiences. I mean levitating things, the power of prayer, various manifestations of spiritual beings and entities.

I’ve finished reading the book, I’m lying down on my bunk, the book’s on my chest, and I’m thinking, nothing in my life is in any way…I’ve had no experiences on that level at all. However, I was also thinking that the tone of the author—the way the book was written—I couldn’t imagine that the guy would make it up. The author seemed so sincere, had a great style, was witty, knowledgeable… I couldn’t… it just didn’t make any sense that it was a fabricated story. So, I’m thinking those things and my thoughts conclude with, “But I couldn’t pray for a bag of donuts and get them.”

And just at that moment, I heard a key turn in the lock at the end of the corridor, to which the cells of high power are opened. Anyhow I heard this key turn, I heard some boots coming, and I looked up—and there stopping in front of my cell was a deputy sheriff of the Los Angeles County Jail system. And he looked at me, and I didn’t know this guy, mind you, I had no interaction with him. He said—and he was holding a bag of donuts—and he looks at me and he says, “Hi, would you like some donuts?”

It was kind of an uncanny experience, and I’m not saying that I started believing or having any faith in prayer at that time, because I didn’t, but it put me back on my heels so to speak and made me think a bit. I started meditating as a result of an invitation in the autobiography, and I’ve been doing so ever since for 30 years.

Joe Hunt talks more about the “claim of right” defense

Joe Hunt talks more about the Claim of Right Defense.

Transcript:

So if the jury had been properly instructed, and had received the law on the Claim of Right Defense, based upon the prosecution’s own theory of the case, they would have had to acquit me of robbery.

If I had been acquitted of robbery, and the special circumstance of robbery, I would not now be doing life without.

I would have received at most a sentence of 25 to life, and I would have been parole eligible like 20 years ago.

So, you know, this is a sort of issue, which because of legal procedural rules, the place to raise it is at trial and certain waiver and negligence documents take hold after you have been convicted. I didn’t learn of this legal theory until 1988 when I read a case called People v. Tufunga, which was a California Supreme Court decision on the Claim of Right Defense in the case of Mr. Tufunga.

Free copy of Joe’s novel Blue Dharma

Hello Supporters!

As a token of his appreciation for your attention and support, Joe has asked us to share a special gift: a free copy of his novel, Blue Dharma: The Story of Anaiyailla, which he co-authored with his cellmate Alan Adams. Recounting the struggle between good and evil, this book is complete with Demons, Elves, and other mythical creatures.

“This enthralling tale, the first of a four-part series, bears much similarity to The Lord of the Rings trilogy; fans of fantasy fiction who aren’t drawn to the tale’s spiritual aspects will still find a great deal to enjoy…. A winning and complex fantasy tale.” — Kirkus Book Reviews

A word from Joe about the novel and of the title:

“The collaboration with Alan Adams on this series has proven to be one of the more rewarding experiences of my life. Starting with Alan’s seed-thought seven years ago, it has grown far beyond our first expectations. Blue is the color of prisoners, but it is also the color of this planet and the astral world. Dharma, from the Sanskrit root dhri, “to uphold or support,” in simple terms, means religion or righteousness. In a deeper sense, it refers to the eternal laws that uphold the divine order of the universe and of man, its microcosm. It is written that Man should perform virtuous dharma so that he can free himself from the laws of cause and effect and thereby realize his true nature as spirit.”

Download your free PDF of the book below, and check out the links to help you convert to your favorite eReader format. Happy reading! We sure hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Blessings,

Katherine and Michael

 

Blue Dharma Novel (PDF)

How to convert pdf for Kindle

How to convert pdf to ePUB for Nook and Kobo

P.S. If you’d like us to publish a version already converted to ePUB format, let us know!

Joe Hunt describes the deceit, pretense and posturing rampant through BBC.

Joe Hunt describes the deceit, pretense and posturing rampant through BBC, and the prevalence of flaws in the judicial system.

Transcript:

There are cases which say that prisoners can maintain their innocence and that no inferences to be drawn against them for making that assertion.

The reason the law has changed on the subject is they have come to realize that not all prisoners are guilty, that there have been so many cases where people have been wrongfully convicted, that it would be extremely unfair to coerce prisoners that maintained their innocence to say that they’re guilty as a precondition of release, since society itself must admit that all human processes, including the trial process, does not necessarily arrive at the truth.

I mean, there’s so many cases where there have been, with seemingly overwhelming evidence, where the person ended up being exonerated.

There was a huge number of cases before DNA, which, subsequent to DNA, were reinvestigated, and turned out the people that were convicted were innocent.

There’s that famous Florida case, where a guy convicted of seven rapes by seven women that independently identified him as their rapist and turned out not only was it not him, but it was a guy who’s almost a foot taller, a hundred pounds heavier, just massively different.

My case, we have no blood, no bullets, no body. We have a guy that was saying that he was gonna run, researched Brazilian extradition treaties, likely changed his hair the day before he disappear, changed his hair color, and was subsequently seen by like 10 independent, uninvolved citizen witnesses who they attested to his being alive.

So it’s pretty interesting to see how the judicial process could go wrong in my case when it’s all based upon, a “he said” sort of inference.

Like, Joe said that he killed him, therefore not only must he be dead but that Joe would of course tell the truth on such a subject. That’s the common inference. And of course that inference ignores the actual real-world dynamics of what was taking place between me, and the various factions of the BBC at the time and Ron Levin.

There was a lot of deceit going on, pretense and posturing. Everybody was trying to manipulate each other through smoke and mirrors. And my assertion as of June 24, 1984 meeting, that I had knocked off Ron Levin was part of the posturing and the dynamics between me and a faction of the BBC that was trying to, and ultimately did, steal the crown jewels of the BBC. Raided some of our accounts and took our… after torching with an acetylene torch a lock that doors of a warehouse in Gardena for Microgenesis of North America.

Video: Joe Hunt explains the infamous “to-do” list was an intimidation tool, not a murder plan.

In this interview, Joe Hunt describes the to-do list entered as evidence was meant as a desperate ploy to intimidate Ron Levin into paying back the millions he owed BBC, because the con man had no fear of lawsuits.

Transcript:

This was something that was a bombshell in my second trial in San Mateo County. It’s the mainstay of the prosecution’s case, it’s their centerpiece and like you say, it’s what they have called the smoking gun.

The jury in San Mateo felt otherwise, and let me play out here that the thing that I am talking about I testified to. I did not hide from the San Mateo jury. I took the stand. I was on the stand for ten days. I was cross examined by the prosecution for five days. So it’s not just a case of well he’s just saying that you know in a recorded message on a Gtel conversation from prison. This was heard by a real jury and I have declarations from over half of that jury saying that they after seeing all the evidence including hearing my testimony, they felt that I should have been acquitted on the Levin charges.

But be that as it may, the to-do list, it’s a seven page document it is mostly in my handwriting, almost all in my handwriting, and I testified as to what that document was.

It was prepared, it was notes primarily from a meeting held at the BBC offices, involving some of the prosecution witnesses, and for obvious reasons they don’t want to admit that there was notes taken at that.

But we were trying to think of a plan because we’re dealing with this con man, Ron Levin and he’s judgement proof. So the idea of civilly suing him, it’s just like, get in line. There’s a whole list of the civil litigation he was involved in at that time.

He’s an expert of turning what was criminal fraud into a civil matter to avoid an arrest. He would even talk about that in our presence. Anyhow so the idea of suing him to recover the money he owed me as a result my profitable trading for him was not looked at as a viable alternative. So the idea came up that we would bluster and posture, like, bad things would happen to him if he didn’t pay.

If you seen TV, movies and things like that, this kind of a device commonly comes up in Hollywood movies and television shows where some group of people tries to fool or finagle another group into believing something is false in order to cause them to act in a way that’s expected. So this is pursued that’s what the notes were about and the notes became a prop in the plan to intimidate Levin. Where I showed the notes to Ron Levin, on June 5th and left them there in his possession. Now that would all just be my assertion, except for the fact that this woman named Karen Marmor, who was the wife of Len Marmor and a neighbor to Ron Levin testified in San Mateo county that she saw these to-do lists on Ron Levin’s desk while he was having a phone conversation. She was in his office waiting for him to get off that phone call. She saw them picked them and looked at them and saw some of the key words that in it and recalls it now.

Karen was during her professional career an officer in a bank. She is not a person that I had any relationship. We were not like friends or had any knowledge. She was the wife of Ron Levin’s — what’s believed to be Ron Levin’s best friend — a guy named Len Marmor and who just had no motive to aid me in this at all.

Her testimony was heard by the San Mateo jury and they’ve written about it, how credible and persuasive they found her testimony, because the choice is between either believing Carney, Dean Carney was the chief prosecution witness, a troubled young man who was in a very complex predicament legally and facing all sorts of jail time. Either believing Carney or Karen Marmor so they choose to believe the neutral, independent witness rather than the immunized compromised witness that the prosecution argued as to be the meaning of the to-do list.

So basically if Karen Marmor told the truth then the whole prosecution case is wrong and that there is a witness like Karen Marmor is never mentioned in any of the documentaries or either of the movies or either of the books that are out there on the case.

Video: Joe Hunt discusses laws that give accomplices the same punishment as perpetrators.

Joe Hunt discusses the Natural and Probable Consequences Doctrine, which results in “aiders and abettors” of a crime getting the same punishment as perpetrators.

Transcript:
I’ve often said to some of the other men in prison that they’re my people, in that these are my peers, this is who I’ve lived with.

I’ve bonded with some of these guys, some of these men who are doing life without and are murderers are my friends.

Now a lot of them are here on this aiding and abetting theory of what they call vicarious liability in the law, and there’s several different ways that vicarious liability can be assigned but one of the principal ones is the aider and abetter rules and there’s also something called the Natural And Probable Consequences Doctrine. So under aiding and abetting if you exhort, encourage, incite or aid someone in a felony and that felony results in somebody’s death, under the felony murder doctrine and under the aider and abetter doctrine, together, stitched together, you end up with the same liability as the actual perpetrator, and this can be a travesty.

It does not, this is not the sort of travesty that occurred in my case, that’s of a different stripe, but it is the travesty that we’re giving, society is giving, handing out “life without” sentences to men who never had a moment where they crossed that line and became intentional murderers.

In fact they never actually chose to do an action that directly resulted in another person’s death. They never curled their finger around the trigger of a revolver or plunged a knife into somebody and so they didn’t have the — they never did anything that manifested the sort of depravity that you would associate with a “life without” sentence. A sort of malice of forethought or maliciousness or wickedness.

They might have done something like got talked into by their homeboys or actively decided to be a getaway driver or they might have been members of a gang and went to back to up a buddy in a confrontation with another gang and then suddenly their buddy pulls a gun and shoots somebody.

Unexpectedly to all of them and they end up doing “life without” time under the Natural And Probable Consequences Doctrine or aiding and abetting gang activity doctrine.

And it’s just so unfair because society is presuming that they are, that they were so given over to malice and depravity that they would kill another person, but really there’s no proof that they ever reached that state in their life. But the prosecution theory is otherwise.

So most civilized countries in the world, they don’t have doctrines like that and they don’t put people away for life without possibility of parole at all. Let alone in an instant where the person actually never chose intentionally.

Video: Joe Hunt describes his embarrassment over the media-created name, “Billionaire Boys Club.”

In this interview, Joe Hunt explains the history of the “Billionaire Boys Club” name. BBC actually stood for “Bombay Bicycle Club,” but, to Joe’s embarrassment, was changed to Billionaire Boys Club in the media.

Transcript:
Well I’ve always been embarrassed by the name being in the media. I was a jerk in many ways in my early twenties, but I did not run around with a group of people called myself the Billionaire Boys Club or us the Billionaire Boys Club.

We had a company called BBC Consolidated North America and the initials were taken from something called the Bombay Bicycle Club which was a restaurant with some video games in Chicago, and when Dean and Dan would come out to Chicago, we would go to the Bombay Bicycle Club and I just hung out there. So in a bit of whimsy, we decided to name the first company BBC Consolidated North America.

Now I’ve heard transcripts of some interviews that Tom and David may have given to IPC productions before the 1987 mini series, and told IPC productions that we would sometimes jokingly or boastfully refer to ourselves as the Billionaire Boys Club, but I don’t recall that, I just don’t.

I don’t have any connection with that name until seeing it in print with the media, and I wouldn’t have named us that, and I don’t like the name.

Certainly my own background is not from wealth and privilege. We grew up in Van Nuys, a block away from the Van Nuys Junior High, in a lower middle class area. And you know I remember there were a couple years when my dad was on food stamps. My family was on food stamps, so we were not from a family of riches and privilege.

Video: Joe Hunt describes all of the legitimate business activities of the BBC.

The name “Billionaire Boys Club” has become associated with scandal, but in this interview, Joe Hunt describes all of the legitimate business enterprises his organization — actually named BBC, which stood for the Bombay Bicycle Club — was pursuing.

Transcript:

We were organized to do legitimate business. Businesses at the outset of BBC ranged from a car company called West Cars of North America that were importing grey market automobiles from Europe so these were cars that were not up to EPA and American Department of Transportation or DOT spec.

We had a warehouse in Gardenia with a lift and a 2 gas analyzer. We had an employee named Frank Rabinsky who was our mechanic and it was our intent to import these cars from Europe and bring them into compliance and sell them. At the time there was a significant difference between what cars were selling for Europe and what luxury cars were selling for in the United States. It was an attempt to arbitrage that difference and secondly we have a company called Microgenesis of North America.

We hired a guy named Eugene Browning to build a sophisticated sort of rock pulverizer called a cyclotron and our goal was and we ultimately did. So some men go under contract with a group that was doing gold mining and wanted to use those same connections with them.

We also had Financial Futures Trading of North America which was a legitimate way to manage money for people by trading spreads in the interest rate futures market at the New York Mercantile Exchange and in the Chicago Mercantile exchange.

Joe Hunt’s family members call the 1987 Billionaire Boys Club TV Miniseries sensationalized, inaccurate

“The 1987 made-for-TV miniseries ‘Billionaire Boys Club’ was biased against Joe before his trials were even complete, full of sensationalized hype, with blatant disregard for the documented facts in the case,” said Joe Hunt’s brother-in-law Michael Olivier. “Fictional storytelling is one thing, but this is a real person’s life. It’s irresponsible to mix the two in a way that negatively impacts our entire family.”

The miniseries’ factual inaccuracies include:

  • The second half of the movie presents the situation involving Hedayat Eslaminia as if law enforcement’s version of his death was proven at trial. Actually, the prosecutors dismissed their case against all four defendants, including Joe Hunt, after Joe established to the satisfaction of a majority of his jury that Dean Karny, the State’s star witness, was solely responsible for Hedayat’s death.
  • A jury in 1988 rejected the State’s theory that Jim Pittman shot Ron Levin, voting 10-2 to acquit Pittman.
  • Excluding the general background facts related to the BBC, the miniseries is almost entirely based upon the testimony of a single witness, Dean Karny. Yet, neither Dean Karny nor any other prosecution witness has ever claimed they personally witnessed the death of Ron Levin. Ignored by the producers of the NBC miniseries are eight witnesses with no ties to Joe who came forward with their encounters with Ron Levin after he absconded from Beverly Hills in 1984.

The Joe Hunt Case: The Basics

In 1988, one true crime story dominated the news cycle: The Billionaire Boys Club.

Three decades later, the story has faded from the tabloids, but it remains the painful present-day reality of club leader Joe Hunt, who remains in prison, serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for a murder he maintains that he did not commit.

Hunt readily admits to financial misdeeds. The 23-year-old Joe Hunt found himself in financial trouble from a fraud perpetrated on him by the master con artist Ron Levin, who bilked him out of a half million of his investors’ dollars, leaving Joe holding the bag. Joe naively overextended himself when he took Levin at his word that he would fund a large commodities investment intended to repay investors with a handsome profit. Instead, Levin assured Joe he could proceed with a purchase made with nonexistent funds. That’s when law enforcement got involved.

Soon after, Levin, who was out on bail and facing an FBI investigation for grand theft and fraud, went missing. In response to police inquiries, the rich kids of the Billionaire Boys Club directed attention away from themselves and pointed to Joe, the scholarship kid. Prosecutors decided to charge Joe with Levin’s murder, even with no body and no forensic evidence.

In addition to defending their client, Joe’s lawyers were burdened with the task of filing a judicial misconduct motion for mistrial after Judge Laurence Rittenband, well known as a “prosecutor’s judge,” slapped one member of the defense team with a gag order, leaving a workload meant to be divided among two lawyers to just one.

A Los Angeles Times article about the judge’s conduct explained that the mistrial motion raised charges that “Rittenband deliberately elicited prejudicial evidence against Hunt by questioning witnesses, that he belittled and banished defense staff from the courtroom, that he frequently refused to allow the defense to approach the bench to voice objections and that he aligned himself with the prosecution by grimacing, smirking and showing impatience and disbelief at crucial points in the defense’s cross-examination of witnesses.”

Ultimately, Hunt’s media notoriety (which extended to a fictionalized 1980s made-for-TV movie and a 2018 version of his story starring Kevin Spacey) worked against him in the trial, and he was sentenced to life without possibility of parole — which many observers characterized as an unjust sentence, especially in a murder case with no physical evidence — not even a body. Hunt’s sentence is an anomaly, not comparable to those of his fellow Boys Club members or even far more notorious criminals. For example, even the psychopathic cult leader Charles Manson was granted several opportunities to go before a parole board for his role in multiple murders. Yet Hunt has never been granted the right to a parole board hearing.

Grants of parole consideration are made not by guilt or innocence, but by an evaluation of an inmate’s rehabilitation, as well as an evaluation of any threat they may pose to public safety. Hunt hangs his hopes on a commutation petition that, if granted, would allow him to go before a parole board. Hunt, if given the opportunity, could make a strong case. His prison record is blemish-free, and his commutation application includes many letters of support, including letters from prison guards and chaplains.

“In my opinion, Hunt has no inclination to re-offend. All of his activities appear directed towards positive goals,” wrote a correctional officer from Pleasant Valley State Prison. “He has a reputation for helping others. I would place him solidly in the top one percent as far as suitability for reintegration with society.”

It’s testimonies like these — 47 in all are included with his petition — that form the last remaining basis for Hunt’s hope of release.

“I do hope that attention is drawn to the fight of people who have life without the possibility of parole,” Hunt said of the website his family has created to share information about his campaign for release, FreeJoeHunt.com.

Hunt explained that like himself, many of his fellow inmates who have been incarcerated since their youth have made profound changes by the time they reach middle age. “So I do hope that society as a whole becomes acquainted with this fact and they make room for the fact that the the work they have done is redemptive, and possibility invite them back to that role in society.”

Explore Joe’s Journey: Dive deeper into the twists and turns of a legal battle that challenges our justice system.
Lend Your Voice for Justice: Sign the petition to support Joe’s reqest for a parole hearing, and join the movement for a fairer future.

Video: Joe explains how men serving life without parole can change over time.

Joe expresses hope that society will understand that those who committed crimes as teens or young adults may grow to become profoundly different people by middle age.

 

Transcript:

I do I hope that attention is drawn to the fight of people who have life without the possibility of parole. Because there is a Japanese philosopher that wrote that Enlightenment, once it’s achieved, amounts to the same thing no matter how you got there.

In other words, you could have come through a life of sin and wickedness, but at the point where you wake up and you live up to the potential of the human being — so you have compassion for other people, you have a conscience, you have a desire for selfless action — when you have gotten over yourself and you’re feeling the (value) in other people, and you reach the point where you are willing to sacrifice on behalf of others for the greater good, when you get to that point, no matter how you got there, that consciousness is the same. Regardless of your past.

I’ve seen — this forget about me for a second here — I’ve met other people who have life without (parole) that are actually profoundly good human beings. They’ve reorientated themselves and they did so, the ones I that I know, before there was any possibility of commutation. They did that work, and it was difficult work for them, of redeeming themselves and resurrecting the spirit within them and reaching their potential as human beings. Without any thought of using it as a way to get out, but merely because there was a call in their souls when they woke up to do so.

So a lot of men got their cases when they were 18, 19, or 20 and when they are 35 or 40, their orientation has absolutely no relationship to where they were as teenagers.

So I do hope that society as a whole becomes acquainted with this fact and thinks about it. And this being primarily a Judeo-Christian society, that they make room for the fact that the suffering of these men, and the work they have done, is redemptive, and possibility invite them back to that role in society.

Joe Hunt answers the question, “If you had had a child, what would you have named her?”

Joe Hunt answers the question, “If you had had a child, what would you have named her?”

 

Transcript:

J: Mary, we’re gonna call her Mary. Mary Catherine Hunt. Catherine being my sister’s first name. An homage to the wonderful sister I have.

H: And Mary, why Mary?

J: Mary? Because of Mary’s place in the bible…But because of some of the experiences Jamie had when she was young with praying to the Virgin Mary. 

Joe explains the painful story of how Ron Levin’s scam led to the loss of all of his investors’ money.

Transcript: I was trading at a place called Cantor Fitzgerald for some of my investors, which included the May brothers, and some other people. And I had some of my own money there, and Dean had some money, Ben had some money, and so we were trading commodity futures, contracts for Cantor Fitzgerald which was a local brokerage house that had an office in Beverly Hills.

Anyhow, I saw the opportunity, I was also trading for Ron Levin through first Rauscher Pierce Refsnes, a regional commodity house, and then Clayton, so how I was trading for them and what was actually going on there is an interesting and complicated story.

But setting that aside for a moment, I saw the opportunity to go long, to keep on futures contracts. I thought it was going to be a big move, the interests rates were going to go down which would have meant that future contracts would have gone up. So I told Levin about it.

We had made some money already in the accounts that had been set up with Levin. I was owed around a million dollars at that time since my deal with Levin. So I said to him look, I see this opportunity and I’m going to be buying stuff for my other clients and I’m going to buy some of the account for you, but I’d like to be paid what’s owed me under our contract right now. I said, is there going to be a problem getting me a half a million dollars of a million owed by Friday? This was on a Monday.

He said no problem, and I said well, I’m going to be putting on accounts, I’ll be putting on trades for my own account and for my investors. Is there going to be any problem getting that money by Friday? And he said absolutely no problem — go ahead and do it.

So I put on a bigger position than I had cash for margin at Cantor, and I also put the position on for Levin. Anyhow, of course Levin didn’t pay. I’m sure he had absolutely no intention of paying, just why he would say that after I told him about the context, I don’t know. It was just part of the cruelty of Levin back in those days. This is like 1983, I believe.

Anyhow, so, the money is not forthcoming and on Friday, Cantor Fitzgerald wants their money, because that’s business, and margin call’s due that day. So it was a five day call period back in that time.

Anyhow, I didn’t have it, if the position had declined a little bit it wouldn’t have been a problem had I had the half of million, but the result was they sold it, which was there right and was particularly appropriate. And he moment they sold it in the morning when they blew the position out it was declining at that point. The result was that my investors’ money had been wiped out.

Again, if I had the half of million dollars the position would have been sufficiently margined and that sale would have never occurred. Anyhow, as luck would have it, I was right, and (futures) took off and went on this historic run from what I think was fifty-five to eight-five which was a huge move. Interest rates declined substantially. Now the position, the notional position, that would have been taken on in the Levin account went on to make millions but my investors had lost their money and this was the point at which the BBC shipwrecked which is rather than just straightforwardly telling the outside investors that money had been lost, I just couldn’t emotionally deal with having that conversation.

And since Levin was promising, and had a bunch of excuses and was promising to pay, I thought there is no reason to tell them. I’ll just tell them that everything is fine. In fact, I’ll tell them that everything is going well, and when I get this money from Levin, I will restore the funds that had been lost by the investors and give them a profit.

Now, it’s easy to say at this distance, but the truth was, I couldn’t have cared less about the money at the time. I was just emotionally incapable of facing these people and telling them that I had lost their money.

I knew their money was important to them. Some of them were like widows and orphans investors. There was scholarship money for their children, or money for their children’s tuition for college, money for health matters and stuff like that and I just couldn’t see facing them, so I made a spectacularly stupid mistake and told them everything was cool. And it wasn’t cool.

Video: Joe describes his daily meditation practice

Joe Hunt describes his daily meditation practice, and how it gives him a sense of optimism despite his incarceration.

Transcript:

In order to renew myself, I meditate every day, twice a day.

I do something called pranayamas, which is translated as a set of energization exercises that focus more on the flow of energy in the body than they do on the physical movement.

Like martial artists that work with chi — energy — it’s the same thing, only with the refinement just to promote the free flow of energy throughout the entire body rather than a connection to any particular martial practice.

Anyhow, the meditation is the wellspring from which I try to renew myself emotionally and physically and spiritually everyday.

Some days meditation goes a lot deeper than others, and I’ve experienced at times, states that were otherwise inaccessible to me. And what I mean to say by that, is up until the time I started meditating, I was completely unaware there were higher stages of consciousness.

People could talk about them, but they’re not real unless you actually experience them yourself. And having experienced some of those states, I’ve become personally convinced that we are spirit. We’re not just an animal. And that the spirit survives the life — the bodily life, the bodily existence – so I mean, this is true to me.

It’s a matter of the testimony of many of the great human beings down through the ages, but it became real to me while meditating. And, I would say that my optimism, which prevails most of the time, is rooted in what I’ve personally experienced while meditating.

Video: Joe Hunt explains why he should have been acquitted of robbery.

Joe Hunt explains why he should have been acquitted of robbery using the “Claim of Right” legal doctrine, which exempts people who are reclaiming what is rightfully theirs. Collecting on a legitimate debt is not a robbery at all, because you lack something called the animus furandi of robbery, which is the intent to take property belonging to another.

Transcript:

It feels pretty technical but it affected me and it had really harsh repercussions on my life.

I was charged and convicted of a robbery, and one of theories is that I came in and I had extorted a check for 1.5 million dollars from Levin.

Now unfortunately, my attorneys, at that trial in 1987, their legal education did not extent to something called the Claim of Right Doctrine, which was common law defense to allegations of robbery in California and throughout the United States. That you are taking back from somebody your own personal property or collecting on a legitimate debt is not a robbery at all because you lack something called the animus furandi of robbery, which is the intent to take property belonging to another.

So lacking that mental state, you can’t be convicted of robbery because that is now is a stated element of robbery in law. So for example, you know back in the 1800s if somebody took your horse, if you pursued them and shot them, you might be guilty of manslaughter or murder, but you wouldn’t be guilty of robbery, because it’s your horse.

Now under the state’s theory, Levin owes me 4 million dollars and that is something that he acknowledged publicly and to prosecution witnesses. The state’s theory was that I was seeking to force him to pay me what he owed me from a legitimate business transaction, that being the case, the jury should have been instructed on the Claim of Right defense.

And had they been instructed, given the fact that the prosecution theory was as described, I would have been acquitted of robbery. Unfortunately, when this issue was raised, it was considered too late to have anything done about it, due to certain legal procedural rules.

Video: Joe discusses his theory of what happened to Ron Levin

Joe talks about what he thinks happened to Ron Levin. It’s likely that Levin jumped bail, especially in light of witness accounts that Levin was researching Brazilian extradition treaties and had inquired about dyeing his hair.

Transcript:

I have thought about this a great deal over the years and tried to extrapolate what he would do or did in that situation so you know, his actual fate as a matter of personal knowledge is a mystery to me because my last point of contact with him was June 5th.

So far as I can reconstruct and recall, what I have seen of course is the same eyewitness accounts that my jury in San Mateo heard, about people in some cases had prior
relationships with Ron, had been over to his house, as Gerard had been for dinner, or had contact with him like Robbie Robinson and had seen him subsequently.

So those eyewitness reports, and some of them were asked to take polygraphs, and the ones who were asked took polygraphs passed them with flying colors. And so those reports have been persuasive to me of the fact that Ron Levin was alive through the last sighting, which was three years after his disappearance in Mykonos, the island of Mykonos in Greece.

I’ve also, since I’ve worked so hard on this case, I’ve seen the testimony and read interviews
of people like Oliver Wendell Holmes (no relationship to the great jurist), but he was employed by Levin to work on Levin’s pending criminal cases. The charges Levin was facing before he disappeared and he said that Levin was discussing with him and researching Brazil’s extradition treaties and policies, which I find highly suspicious.

How many people are doing that right before they jump bail?

You know and then furthermore, John Duran, his hairdresser at the time said that Levin called him right before he disappeared and asked him how do I dye my hair. And then detective Les Douler tells us that brown stains that he tested and were not from blood but there was some brown staining in the porcelain of Levin’s bathtub which would be consistent with some last minute change to his hair color.

Now when he was seen late in ’86 and ’87, he had his gray hair, so the postulate and the hypothesis is that Levin initially decided to change his hair but didn’t like it and letting it grow back out grey by when he was seen in Tucson Arizona and when he was seen on the island of Mykonos.

Levin’s grey hair was one of his most striking features people say that he was kind of a he had a very distinctive look back in ’84, in ’83 in Beverly Hills. He graced the cover of a magazine once.

Anyhow, so based on the information evidence that I’ve seen and also based on statements of Levin made in my presence where he said that he would never go back to prison. I deduced a long time ago that he fled and when he was no longer available after June 6, 1984 and I couldn’t get a hold of him and I heard other people couldn’t get a hold of him, and by June 24th I had concluded that he had fled.

He had a pending case so he couldn’t just up and leave without violating the terms of his bail and he wouldn’t just violate the terms of his bail unless he intentionally fled so that was the conclusion I reached and I think it’s the conclusion the Beverly Hills Department reached for the first couple of months as well.

Joe describes how many people who never even pulled a trigger wind up doing life sentences for murder.

Joe describes the case of 12 gang members who all received life sentences because they were in a van with one gang member who spontaneously decided to pull a trigger.

“A number of people that are in prison who never did anything that shows a sort of moral abandon or depravity to justify a ‘death in prison’ sentence…. They were peripheral characters in a crime that spiraled out of control.”

Transcript:
So you have a number of people that are in prison who never did anything that shows a sort of moral abandon or depravity to justify a death in prison sentence because that’s what life without is. It’s death by imprisonment sentence it’s a slow death, 60 years in the case some of these of men that were locked up earlier 70 years in prison.

They were peripheral characters in a crime that spiraled out of control that wasn’t conceived at the beginning to take another person’s life and in there because a lot of these guys were teenagers at the time of the incident that gave rise to their life sentence. They didn’t really have the maturity or clarity to recognize that their behavior could have resulted in the taking of another person’s life but they might have participated in a whole several robberies with assurance being given by all concerned that no one is going to get killed and we are just going to show the gun to intimidate them and then sitting in a getaway car being a wheel man and the guy who goes in actually shoots somebody much much to their shock and in some cases indignation of the base men.

I worked on this one case where there twelve guys in a van. They were Vietnamese and they were being pursued by a car filled with rival gang members, this call and your telephone number will be monitored and recorded, when suddenly one of the guys in the van was not talking about it or discussing it with anybody else because one of the guys in the van became a state witness, that witness describes what happened as one of the guys just suddenly jumps out of the van and runs up to the car of the pursuing gang people and opens fire.

They all, all people all the 12 people in the van end up getting charged under the national and probable consequences doctrine with the murder. Even though they hadn’t agreed to this behavior and when the shooter gets back to the van they immediately, all the people in the van according the state’s own witness said what the hell did you do you just go off and do that without talking anybody and they were so mad they were considering shooting that guy for what he had done.

Nevertheless, they all got life sentences for that so that’s the sort of anomalies that can occur because of these inflexible murder doctrines and aiding and vetting doctrines. They cast a really wide net and a lot of the people that are caught with these life without sentences and life sentences are there because of vicarious liability and they don’t deserve it it’s really not defensible in their case.

I say that not speaking — because obviously I’m not the conscience of society — but you know its generally recognized that California in particular has a much harsher penological regime then anybody else in the entire civilized world. I mean there’s more people doing life without in California then there are in the whole rest of the world so far as the statistics show, and so per capita, the per capita statistic, it’s just off the chart.

So it’s something that I feel having met some of these men that are now 20, 25 years older 30 years older and are scheduled to death for death in prison that it should be looked at. It is an injustice because they never actually made a conscious decision to take another person’s life willfully or deliberately or intentionally.

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