I have been visiting Jarvis Jay Masters on San Quentin’s death row for nearly fourteen years. Jarvis is a writer with countless published articles and two excellent books — Finding Freedom: Writings From Death Row (1997) and That Bird Has My Wings: Autobiography of an Innocent Man on Death Row (2009). He is a long time Buddhist practitioner. And he is my close friend. We speak by phone or face-to-face often, jousting with words, laughing, grieving. My kids talk to him when he calls. He is just like any other person in our life, except that he has been on death row for more than twenty years, condemned for a crime he did not commit.
Over all the years I’ve known Jarvis, his lawyers have been working on his appeal. Two years ago, the California State Supreme Court ordered an evidentiary hearing based on compelling arguments that he was wrongfully convicted of participating in a 1985 conspiracy to kill a prison guard, Sergeant Howell Burchfield, despite the fact that Jarvis was in another part of the prison when Sgt. Burchfield was attacked. (For more information about Jarvis Masters and the case see his website: http://www.freejarvis.org/)
On Tuesday, January 4 the court-mandated hearing begins. It is expected to last three weeks, with new evidence and witnesses that we believe will convey the legal errors in his original trial and Jarvis’s innocence. We look forward to the day when Jarvis Masters will walk through the gates of San Quentin as a free man with gifts to share in the wider world.
The evidentiary hearings are scheduled to start at 10am on January 4 in Marin County Superior Court. The court’s address is
3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael, California 94903
Further details about the court and directions can be found this website: http://www.marincourt.org/
If you are in the Bay Area, if you care about Jarvis and about justice, please consider attending one or more sessions of the hearing. I plan to be there much of the time, and look forward to seeing you. But Jarvis — with his family friends, lawyers — understands that there are people around the world who wish to see justice in this case. Your prayers, meditations, and love are welcome. And if you have words of support to offer Jarvis, I will see to it that these words get to him.
— Alan Senauke