After three visits to the Sparta Municipal Court, Clem finally received some great news. His initial plea of guilty, the key component of the infraction that began this whole saga, was changed to not guilty. Eventually, this allowed him to plead down to possession of paraphernalia, and under the current Homeland Security guidelines, this is not a deportable offense. So, while it is impossible to undue the great strain the prior legal machinations have placed upon Clem and his family, he can now remain confident that the proceedings will not be replicated in the future.
In other news, Clem was hoping to become a US citizen on June 1st. With his court hearing originally scheduled for March and then May, the time line for his citizenship initially seemed possible. Unfortunately, he was forced to wait for Homeland Security to clear him legally. It is late June, and he has only now been before the court. Obviously, his desire to become a citizen will have to wait for a date in the future.
Clem is hardly alone in this fight. Thankfully the press is increasingly raising questions and sharing important stories. Read more about how the U.S. immigration detention system is arbitrary and cruel. Follow the disturbing cases of detainee deaths.
What do you think?
When we last left prisoner #84381 in December 2008, he had just been released after six weeks in Monmouth County Correctional Institution. As you may know, he was there compliments of Homeland Security after having his passport and green card confiscated when he returned home from a trip abroad.
Even though he was released and many people thought that was the end of the problem, we discovered it was only the beginning of our legal struggles. We’ve been to court twice and have to appear two more times. The final appearance will be on May 13, before the same Homeland Security judge who originally denied Clem bail and sent him back to prison in November. This whole fiasco has forced us to engage the services of three different lawyers. As you can imagine, the legal costs of fighting this battle have been extreme. In addition to Clem’s case, we’ve been helping his two former cellmates, who continue to languish in jail at this time for similar minor offenses.
If you want either an update or the history of Clem’s situation, please visit his website: www.freeclem.com, where there is an opportunity to donate to his legal defense fund if you so choose.
We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this nightmare, which began in July 2008, will finally come to an end and that Clem will be allowed to become a U.S. citizen, free from the threat of deportation.
Robin, Mackenzie, Jordy, and Jake
Read recent coverage of Clem’s case in the New Jersey Star Ledger.
In a turn of events fitting of this Kafka-esque plot line, Clem was released on parole this past Tuesday night (December 16th). The circumstances were odd to say the least. Clem was suddenly asked to gather his things and after moving through a series of holding cells he was driven towards Manhattan. Approaching Newark airport, Clem still didn’t know if he was being deported, shipped of to Texas or something else. But they passed by the airport and eventually dropped Clem off on a street in Manhattan at 7:30pm in the middle of a snowstorm without any cash. One collect call later and this chapter of the bizarre drama finally come to a close.
Clem is on parole pending upcoming hearings in January and March. So this story is not over yet.
Clem has been let out on parole pending his Jan. and March hearings.
There is a Santa Claus after all !!!
Thank-you everyone for inundating our Senators with letters. We don’t know if it was the lawyers, the letters, the Union heads asking the Senators to look into Clem’s case, or a combination of everything, but he’s home now.
We are going to keep up the web-site www.freeclem.com for updates.
And our first order of business is to help two of Clem’s inmates, Zeff from Albania and Cheybou from Cameroon.
Clem will write you soon and relay some amazing tales.
Until then, many thanks and much love,
Robin and the rest of the family
So stay tuned. In the meantime, you can read Mackenzie’s reaction to the release.
For the first time in 35 days, I can catch my breath. The news that my father would be released left me elated and excited. I didn’t know what it meant, when it would happen, or how, but I knew it meant good news. I can not tell you how it felt to know that after all of the struggle, there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
I raced home from work to begin preparing a welcome home dinner and make a huge sign. I jumped around like a wild woman and screamed at the thought of seeing my dad again. There are no real words to describe the heartbeat I felt in my stomach or the nervousness that ran through my brain. All I could focus on was that our day had come to be reunited again.
As I heard the garage door open, my head raced with excitement. I waited as I heard footsteps up the stairs and began bursting at the seams. The living room door opened and I leapt from my seat to be at my dad’s side. I screamed, “Daddy!” and raced for his hug. Finally, after these painful weeks, I could rap my arms around him again. I squeezed tighter and tighter, not wanting to let go, for the fear of losing him again. When I looked up, I saw the tears in his eyes and felt those in mine.
It’s a moment that I will never forget. I can’t thank each and every one of you enough for all that you have done for my dad and my family. My mom and I could never have gotten through this without the generousity and kindness people in this town and across the world have shown us. For my dad, the letters of encouragement, books, and visits meant the world. He proudly told me that his Corrections Officier commented that no one receieved anywhere near as much mail as he did and that he must have a lot of support. That is indeed true. From the bottom of my heart, I can’t thank you enough.
I am truly humbled at how much people open their hearts, and even their wallets, for a family in crisis. I feel as though I owe each of you something that I can never fully repay. My dad would not be home with my mom and me without the perseverance and strength of the people that surround us. Your advice, encouragement, support, research, letter writing, strategies, and all have been the most beautiful gifts I will ever receive.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays to you and yours. 🙂
Sunday, December 10.
I’m passing on this e-mail from Clem’s VP….Robin
I had the opportunity to visit with Clem and John David today.
Clem got two of us for the price of one and fortunately, John David and I were both on the “visitor “side of the glass!
Clem wanted me to convey his great appreciation for everything everyone is doing on his behalf. The cards and letters, the books, the letter writing campaigns, the visits, and the things he says he’s sure he doesn’t even know about.
He says he’s run out of envelopes and could never keep up with all the “Thank You’s” but he asked me to please let all of you know how deeply touched he’s been and his inability to thank each and every one of you himself is no reflection of the love and gratitude he has for his amazing circle of friends and family.
You could see when he walked into the visitor area he’s a bit down, but as Joe Volpe pointed out from his recent visit, when he sees a few buddies standing there you see a smile come to his face and you know in that moment he can turn off his troubles and he knows people miss him and are thinking about him.
His spirits remain high given the circumstances, and knowing that were all out there pulling for him, makes all the difference in the world.
He asked me to make sure I share his thanks to all of you.
An article covering Clem’s wrongful detention was recently published by Telegraph.co.uk. It had prominent place on editor’s favorites on the front page for an entire day.
What we need to do is get it onto other websites. Please read the article and then digg it. This means clicking on the digg link on the article, then registering on the digg website and entering that you “digg” the article. The more people who digg it, the more people will then choose to read it.
Please get as many people to digg it as possible. This is one way we can build up his case and get more people involved.
You can read the article here.
You can digg the article here.
Several players and friends from Clem’s beloved soccer team sent a letter to the editor for a recent publication of our local newspaper, The Sparta Independent. Everyone trying to help get Clem out is very appreciative of the support.
Letters to the editor, and letters to those in positions of power, really do go a long way. As can be found elsewhere on this website, the addresses for some of the more important figures are:
ATT: Pamela Thievon, Constituent Services
Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen
30 Schuyler Place, 2nd Floor
Morristown, NJ 07960
ATT: Leslie Tejada, Constituent Services
US Senator Frank R. Lautenberg
One Gateway Center, 23rd Floor
Newark, NJ 07102
US Senator Robert Menendez
One Gateway Center, Suite 1100
Newark, NJ 07102
Sunday, November 25.
A late night email to thank everyone for supporting us and evaluating what we can do.
First, thanks a million to everyone for showing up for Clem. It warmed his heart to have everyone show up and despite the dismal outcome ,it DID lift his spirits. It certainly made Mackenzie and I feel as if we are not alone.
I, too am outraged and couldn’t believe I wasn’t allowed to speak. You saw how quickly the judge and lawyer shut me up when I asked if I could say anything in Clem’s defense. Being completely ignorant of the proceedings that apply in a court room is extremely intimidating. You are absolutely correct when you speak of the feeling of helplessness.
I’m glad you wrote to Senators Lautenberg and Menendez. I already have my foot in the door with Senator Lautenberg’s office and must follow up in the morning . As you can see by the posting of this e-mail, it’s the middle of the night and big surprise, I can’t sleep. I know that Senator Menendez is a champion of Immigrants rights. I just hope the marijuana charge,(as minuscule as it is ) does not put him off from helping. I have zero connection to Governor Corzine, but a friend of a friend worked for him so I must pursue that lead now that this unbelievable situation has transpired. I was really optimistic after I hired “the pit bull “ .He seemed more like a cocker spaniel in court, but again that may be standard operating procedure in front of a judge . I really just don’t know.
I know there is a college professor and groups of his students who have overturned sentences of inmates who were wrongfully convicted. They’ve received national press and I saw a news clip on T.V. Perhaps we could do some research on them and find out how to get in touch with them.
I was very moved and humbled by all the support Scharff Weisberg staff has given us. It makes me cry just thinking about it. Please let each and every one of them know how grateful I am. Mackenzie and I will thank them as soon as we’re able.
We can only hope that the appeal will work. I’m looking into getting the 2002 pot conviction removed/expunged from Clem’s record. This could provide a completely different avenue for Clem’s defense. Some attorney friends from Clem’s soccer team are advising me and may be able to help me so I don’t have to hire another expensive lawyer. Hard as it is for me to believe, my current attorney, Michael DiRaimondo, said I could get a criminal attorney friend of his to do this. I would have thought that he could do it, but he doesn’t practice law in New Jersey. Could it be the same as the medical field where everyone has their own niche specialty?
This has really turned into a nightmare. Mackenzie’s sobbing just broke my heart. I wish she didn’t have to go through this, but she wanted to be there and the lawyer thought it a good idea for the judge to see her. Seeing your father in handcuffs has got to be shattering. Not to mention how it must have made Clem feel. The 3 kid’s nickname for Clem is GPD…great and powerful dad. Well that’s just another heartbreaker.
The bleak reality is setting in. We really thought he’d be home for Thanksgiving.
I will send the prison visiting hours. I think it’s important for Clem to have visitors so he doesn’t feel forgotten. It also will break up the extreme tedium of the day. I guess everyone has to go and send him those Amazon.com books that I thought , so optimistically, he wouldn’t need.
As we said in the 70’s “Keep the Faith “.It’s hard to believe this is happening…