On the morning of March 15, the guard did not have any announcement for me to get ready for Court. I knew then the motion to postpone sentencing, again, was honored and I felt confident the Judge received the documentation regarding Count 2 of the Indictment.
“What do you want?”
The fourth question from God was now beginning to take shape and I began to examine within myself, am I doing all I should be? Am I satisfied with the way things are going? What do you want?
There was an unsettling within my heart and I wanted answers, one of which, did I truly follow Your (God) direction regarding trial or did I reason it away because of something deeper within—fear? Did I subconsciously violated my understanding of the Second Command of giving Him my wife and not to worry about her and that He was taking care of her? Did He really tell me to go to trial? I know for a fact, without my hard stance on this, had I opted out for a plea, my case would have been decided and sentenced and right now I would be writing this from a prison somewhere on the Mainland. Others have come after me and have long since left and I’m still here! What is happening? I need to understand. So, I began to ask Him for direction.
March 18, I received the call from the guard I had a legal visit. I gathered my papers and was escorted to the visiting room and went to where directed but this was not my attorney! I became angry because I wanted to speak to Mr. Matos directly, not someone who would relay my information to him. I decided if this were the case, I would refuse to speak to him and direct him to have my attorney see me. Then the peace of God fell over me during the more than one hour I had to wait to see him due to many other inmates called down just as I was. I even recognized his voice, since we spoke on the phone briefly when I made an attempt to reach my first attorney, as the First Assistant to the actual Public Attorney himself! This was Mr. Matos’ supervisor.
After being introduced and getting settled, Mr. Morales showed me copies of the motion and letter I wrote to the Judge, later commenting how well written the document was and how I spelled out in an exact manner the errors of the Prosecution. In this effort, I inadvertently also spelled out, in an exact manner, errors of the Defense! I short, Mr. Morales was here and not Matos to determine what it is I wanted. If we let sleeping dogs lie and did not stir the waters, we could go for Sentencing, or, if what I am saying is true, then my counsel had been ineffective and he would contact the Judge admitting so and they would be relieved of duty, the whole Federal Public Defender’s Office, no one there would be able to represent me. My case would then be referred to a panel of attorneys they have available and one would be chosen and the first order of business would be to have the Judge reverse my plea due to erroneous counsel given and again ask the Court to consider dropping the charges and sanction the Prosecutor for their error and since I’m innocent, again, set me free. I thought I could accomplish this while being guilty but this was not the case.
When he sent up the scenario for me, I was overwhelmed. I had been here nineteen months and what I am hearing is it was all for nothing insofar as the legal aspect! Just being a week away from the conclusion, in the way it currently was headed, was very inviting regardless of any sentencing because it was near finishing. I reconciled within myself that thirty months was not too bad to face since the majority of time was already completed. In fact, considering the good time credit and half-way house arrangement, I would be here, at the most, one or two additional months, although staring probation in the face for three years and given my past performance I would fail in some way and be in the system longer! I just wanted out. I could not imagine waiting for a new attorney and doing this all over again.
What do you want?
That was the question left for me. Now I wanted someone to make the decisions for me. I did not know what to do. The agreement was Mr. Morales would come to see me next week and I would give him my decision.
I did something different this time than all previous times when I had a heavy-duty decision to make. Instead of consulting with other knowledgeable inmates, I prayed. I asked God for help. The answer kept coming back, “tell the truth”. That answer was a little too cryptic for me. I have been telling the truth. I wanted more like a “yes” go to trial or “no” don’t go to trial and God wasn’t talking! I sat down and wrote a letter to Mayra since I could not get her on the phone. In essence the letter said I was going to go forward and have my sentence. I could not imagine bringing her into the probability of a courtroom after being able to avoid it thus far! Wait! What am I doing? Am I going against the Second Command again? Is God giving me an opportunity to correct what might have been my error of not “going to trial”? Am I still here because I feared bringing her into this, having fallen into God’s permissible will because I stepped out of His divine will for my life? Am I afraid of the time it will take to prepare another attorney? Am I afraid of going to trial, and loosing, knowing the sentencing time will be longer? Time? Am I afraid of time? God is in charge of time and what is time compared to the eternity I am striving to be a part of? I know in my heart, I would have always wondered how the trial would have fared had I gone. I know what that thought has done to me for the past five months, and if I do not take this opportunity it will be a lifetime of wondering.
What do you want?
Yesterday, March 19, 2004, I called Mr. Morales on the phone, thankfully he was in. I told him I decided I wanted to reverse my plea and would like for them to remove themselves from my case. He agreed to begin the paperwork. I asked him what did he need me to do and he replied, “Write one of those fabulous letters you’ve been writing and send me a copy.” I told him they will be in the mail Sunday night. Here is a copy of the letter:
March 21, 2004
Roy A. Martin
Register Identification #25516-069
PO Box 2147
San Juan, PR 00922-2147
Honorable Daniel R. Dominguez
United States District Judge
United States District Court
for the District of Puerto Rico
Room 150 FederalBuilding
Carlos Chardon Avenue
Hato Rey, PR 00918-1767
RE: Criminal Case No. 02-456(DRD) – Request to
Dear Honorable Dominguez,
The afternoon of March 18, 2004, I met with Mr. Epifanio Morales, First Assistant of the Federal Public Defender. He had with him the Motion and Supporting document mailed to you March 7, 2004. My complaint initially with him was the assigning of Mr. Juan Matos to my case, whose competence I questioned in lieu of Case No. 02-465(DRD) – (U.S. vs. Carlos Orrego), who I helped write a motion and learned of some obvious mistakes which are currently being challenged and am well aware of further litigation to be taken later.
During this meeting it was agreed by Mr. Morales and I that in pursuing the errors and omissions of the prosecutor revealed gross errors in my own defense which should have been handled prior to any sentencing phase. Let me say quickly, I believe Ms. Joannie Plaza is to be given credit regarding her working to obtain a psychiatric evaluation. It has helped me immensely and I will forever be indebted to her; but it does not overlook the fact of, as in the words of Mr. Morales, “ineffective counsel”. Also, according to Mr. Morales, it appears Ms. Plaza was effective in “minimizing impact” but in doing so, she overlooked, disregarded or just plain ignored obvious defense functions and procedures on my behalf. I will enumerate just a few of the obvious ones:
- Never afforded me an opportunity to view the ten (10) photographs allegedly contained on the computer from F.E. Corporation, which are charged against me.
- Never arranged to allow me to see the “Diskette #4” of Count 2 allegedly containing five (5) photographs which are being charged against me.
- Never arranging to have the office computer evaluated by an expert on our behalf.
- Never providing me with the computer’s diagnostics and history of activity to determine origin of said material charged against me.
- As regarding the videotape, I understand the physical tape itself had scratched initials on the plastic covering; however, in a court of law I will only be able to identify the box in which it was contained. The physical tape was never shown to me. In fact, I could not have actually said that the tape was ever in my possession! And for that matter, it could have contained Disney’s “Lion King”, if there were any tape at all.
- Never provided with a “chain of custody” for either videotape or diskette.
- Never provided with a copy of the search warrant which was issued on September 4, 2002.
- Emails from September 9th through 11th were never completely provided to Defense for evaluation.
- Dates and times of alleged downloads never provided to compare against my reported dates at work. Computer was in an unsecured area accessible by not only employees but strangers.
- Lack of reasonable time to evaluate receiving “exculpatory” evidence which was handed to me just prior to trial October 29th.
- I was advised by Ms. Plaza that I could still have my time to say what I felt necessary to the Court, even after pleading “guilty” to the actual possession as per the Indictment. This in fact was not true. Ms. Plaza, during my presentation to the Court, stepped on my foot repeatedly indicating to me to not speak further on the particular subject and move on. This occurred at least four (4) separate times, which caused me obvious frustration and perhaps had me sounding foolish during “my” time in court.
- Never arranged for me to meet with Sgt. Cortez, Carolina Norte to establish a relationship of past acquaintance which was germane to my defense.
- Insofar as the Court’s representation from the U.S. Department of Probation, never was there any mention of the Conduct Offense regarding Count 2. My representation never picked up on it and question it’s not being included, yet I pled guilty to it.
- Not providing me with adequate counsel in obviously my continuing efforts to defend myself as per letters to you, when this period has been terminated. I am not a stupid man and am quite able to follow proceedings if they are explained properly and thoroughly.
It was agreed during the same meeting with Mr. Morales that I would write a letter to the Court, providing a copy to the Federal Public Defender, who in turn will indicate any additions and/or omissions with the proper legal documentation to request their removal from the case to which the Court should receive within a day or two upon receipt of this letter.
The Federal Public Defender is requesting they be removed from my case and I wholeheartedly agree with their reasoning due to my lack of confidence in their representation. I am thankful; however, Mr. Morales had the moral fortitude to admit their error and provide me with an option to correct it. Needless to say, when I reflect on this case first being dropped after 47 days because the prosecutor did not provide my attorney evidence and now after seventeen (17) more months we are at this stage due to errors of my defense!
Ms. Plaza wrote her motion of October 29 requesting the Court to impose sanctions due to their (prosecution) withholding exculpatory information. This whole matter has made me angry enough to request not only sanctions against prosecution but perhaps the same consideration be given to my defense team.
I, therefore, request my desire to be re-assigned new counsel to represent me adequately, and wish to reverse my “guilty” plea.
Roy A. Martin
I felt good. I went back to my room and picked up my Bible and it fell on Hebrews 3:12-14, 18, 19:
12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; 18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
The Holy Spirit does speak through the Bible, if we will only just hear it. These verses had its own personal application for me. There is no doubt what I need to do now. It’s time to “Go to Trial”.
Later in the evening I was able to reach Mayra to give her the news and she exclaimed, ”I never would have expected this. Does this mean I may be called to come to Court?” My response,
“Yes, Mayra. You just may have to do so!”
In retrospect I saw myself having followed the same path as the Children of Israel. God told me what to do and because of unbelief I am now wandering in what could be called my “Wilderness Experience”. My prayer is hopefully it will not last forty years!
Last night, in prayer, I asked God to come closer to me, I needed to “hear” from Him, to know I’m doing this correctly. The following afternoon He gave me an answer which would quell this moment of doubt when reading “The Desire of Ages”, page 234:
“He does not impart to us power to vindicate ourselves or to satisfy the demands of unbelief and pride. But the Gospel is not without a sign of its divine origin. Is it not a miracle that we can break from the bondage of Satan?”
And this was enough for me. The First Command, “Do not masturbate or else I cannot show you what I want” was so true. It was a miracle that for nineteen months now I have not committed this sin. The first time in my life since I discovered it at age eleven! Can not I believe in this miracle to know He is preparing another by following His command, “Go to Trial”? Let me state here now, I have not been promised to go free from the trial. I was just instructed to go. I am not operating under any belief I will be found innocent. I’m going to do simply what I believe He’s told me to do. This is a sign of faith. So, the miracle is with me now. Today, right here in this room, what more is needed because nothing more is promised. Stop looking forward for something to occur when all it takes is a remembering of what occurred before and what is continuing to occur now. Surely, this week alone, in my sleep the enemy has tried to tempt me, yet I still stand victorious. At a time in the past, I would have awakened to fulfill the lust of the flesh, but not this past week! The miracle continues. Praise God.
(Note: December 19, 2007 – Atlanta, Georgia, while editing this chapter in preparing it for publication, it became clear to me what I needed to have done and I failed. I allowed my thoughts regarding my ex-wife, Mayra, in wanting to protect her from having to go through a terrible ordeal of testifying against me, my having refused to completely give her over to Him, my fear of being found guilty and receiving a longer sentence, possibly five years, to keep me from actually “going to trial”. I confused “telling the truth” and “going to trial” as something separate when now, today, I was shown, it was really the same thing: Go to trial AND tell the truth! Perhaps had I listened THEN, I would have been acquitted, by a jury of my peers, instead of accepting guilt, which was not my right to do, and perhaps could have saved myself this difficulty of being classified as a sexual offender. God certainly could have “healed me of my addictions” whether in prison longer or on the street living a life of liberty. Now, I have to go about this path of life and just continue to follow Him—implicitly from this time forward—WITHOUT DOUBT. Now, I don’t have to worry about this question any further. The thought occurred: Had I been found guilty, by my jury, and sentenced to the maximum time of five years, I would have been released about this time. What’s the difference? I can’t think of any. But, had I been acquitted, by having faith and not fear, and had gone to trial, I stood to have been vindicated and might have been freed later, having to go through the time of getting an attorney and waiting, BUT, I would not have to go through the daily concerns and trials of sex offender status and registration, perhaps for the next forty years! Each state having it’s own different requirement and this for the remainder of my life. I would not have lost my job at the hotel for having a “felony conviction” in 2003. The last would have been 1998, more than the period of time most applications request. Now, What do I want?)