Stand for Justice in the Case of Charles "Chase" Merritt

We call for your support to address a grave miscarriage of justice in the case of Charles “Chase” Merritt, wrongfully sentenced to death amidst prosecutorial overreach and systemic judicial failures. This case, compromised by overlooked evidence and an unjust legal process, is a stark reminder of the need for transparency and fairness in our legal system. Your voice is crucial – join us by signing our petition, engaging in advocacy, and spreading the word about Chase’s plight. Together, we can bring these critical issues to light, advocate for a fair and just retrial, and prevent the wrongful execution of an innocent man. Your involvement is key to upholding justice and integrity in our legal system for Charles “Chase” Merritt and others in similar situations.


All too often we witness in our system of justice a prosecutors teams willingness to push ethical boundaries. Unfortunately, and all too often, the courts as well are seemingly acquiescent to this behavior. Indeed, quoting the court in Moore v. Hopper, a case where detectives were permitted to lie on the stand when they stated, that the murder weapon had been found, the court favorably sited the detectives (false) testimony by stating that “the way to get police work done is to do it, the best way you can.” Then in Commonwealth v. Cressinger, the magistrate is quoted as saying, “society and the criminal are at war, and capture by surprise or ambush, or masked battery, is as permissible in one case as in the other.” With this mentality, how can our justice system possibly balance the scale? One finger on this scale should not be tolerated, much less the heavy hand the courts often allow. The frustration of law enforcement in their quest for justice can clearly be understood. However, where a decisive line is not drawn, and deception is allowed in our courts, we can no longer have confidence in the outcome.

Ethics is the science of moral duty. It deals with the rules of conduct in our society. This is especially poignant in a justice system founded on Due Process. Quoting from the book ‘Do no wrong’ by Peter Joy and Kevin McMunigal; “The standard of conduct that lawyers and law enforcement must obey are high, and are generally followed as the most exalted rules that govern men on earth. They are bound by these standards and must obey them. They may and should fight hard for justice, but they must fight fairly. They may and should state matters honestly and honorably. They may say them with fervor, and all the persuasion in their power. But in saying it, they may not deceive, they must not lie.”

“The very integrity of the judicial system and public confidence in the [same] depends on full disclosure of all the facts within the framework of the rules of evidence.” U.S. v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683, 709 (1974). Defense counsel’s primary role is to protect their client from any potential mis-characterization of the evidence, and to insure that this evidence is not only accurate, but complete. This burden however, is not born by defense counsel alone. “The investigation and gathering of evidence relating to criminal offenses is a responsibility which is inseparable from the District Attorney’s prosecutorial function, and constitutes an inherent aspect of prosecution.” Scott v. Common Counsel, 44 Cal.App. 4th, 684, 52 Cal.Rptr. 2d 161 (4th Dist. 1996). This responsibility makes the probity of the prosecutors, and it’s agents, imparitive if our justice system is to be trusted. As implied, this probity extends to the prosecutor’s ‘agents.’ These agents include police involved in the investigation, and expert witnesses alike.

Research reveals that as much as 7% of all criminal prosecutions end in wrongful convictions. There are a constellation of causes, police and prosecutorial misconduct, faulty scientific evidence, Judicial error and or blatant abuse of descretion by the courts. Unfortunately, inadequate representation by defense counsel more often than not plays a significant role. Often, the ineffectiveness comes in the form of their time and or financial mismanagement. More often however, is that they seem to forget that a trial is more of a fact suit than a law suit. Indeed, mismanagement and or lack of research concerning the facts of the case often cause the advocate to over rely on the law to win the day, and is one of the primary reasons a winnable case is lost. This fact brings to mind Quintillion’s advise, given nearly 2000 years ago, yet is just as applicable today. “It is less inconvenience to listen to the superfluous than to be left ignorant of what is essential.” Advocacy, without the most minute study and preparation is nothing. This concept warrants repeating. No knowledge of the law can be a substitute for a mastery of the facts.

I fully understand, that allegations of impropriety in our courts forwarded by an accused, and even more so, by a man already convicted and sitting on death row, generally receive a ho-hum, wink wink response by both appellate courts and the general public alike. Although I have to admit that this type of response is often warranted, there are exceptions. Within this website you will come face to face -with: those who are indeed willing to subvert our system of justice. More, you will learn that at times this unprincipled and dishonorable behavior is seemingly contagious. Investigating officers, prosecutors, as well as lay and expert witnesses alike are not immune to this contagion. Sadly, neither are defense counsel, or even the court itself. This website will reveal just how fragile our system of justice actually is. A fragility that is not due to a lack of rules governing our courts, but a willingness to circumvent those rules in a quest to win. This website will reveal clear overtones of Machaivellian Maxim, ‘the end justifies the means,’ and how this aphorism permeated the investigation and subsequent trial. A concept that is of course plainly incompatible with our Constitutional concept of ordered liberty.

Tn Finkstine’s summation in the defense of Thomas Paine, he stated that; “The first thing that presents itself in the discussion of any subject is to state distinctly and with precision what the question is, and when prejudice and misrepresentation have been exerted, to distinguish it accurately from what it is not.” That is precisely what you can expect from this website. Although I. did not choose this battle, for I did not commit this crime, fight it I will. In the years I have been on death row for this insidious crime I have come to the realization that public opinion, indeed, your opinion, is a critical component if I ever intend on winning my freedom.

I sincerely believe that ones ‘origin story’ is of great significance when it comes to perception. Tn short, what occurred in the past often determines your ultimate destiny. T mention this because I want it to be understood that I in no way fault law enforcement for their original decision to scrutinize me in their investigation. After all, I do indeed have somewhat of a checkered past. Indeed, if I were heading the investigation at the time, I would have put myself at or near the top of the list of suspects. With that said, it is important to note that I have never had any instances of violence, domestic or otherwise. I am in no way capable of committing this crime. My sincere hope is that, once you have had an opportunity to see all of the facts, you, the thirteenth juror, will agree.

I most assuredly mourn the loss of my friend and his family. However, I do not believe for an instant that my grief could compare to that of their immediate families. Indeed, I have experienced the loss of family members, my mother and father, a younger sister, as well as my grandmother. As devastating as these losses were, I don’t feel they can compare to losing someone, much less an entire family, to such a cowardly and unjustifiable act of violence. We are not supposed to outlive our children, much less grandchildren. My heart goes out to those who lost the most.

Although I desperately long to return to my three children, my girlfriend, brothers and sisters, and everyone else I hold dear, I feel I have a desperately difficult fight ahead. My prayer is that this website, these truths, may bring me one small step closer to going home. To quote a passage from one of my favorite movies, ‘Shawshank Redemption,’ Wherein by the way he as well was innocent, “I have to get to the business of living or get to the business of dieing.”

“The truth isn’t always beauty, but the hunger for it is.”

Nadine Gordimer

Nobel Prize-winning novelist, on the pursuit of truth, particularly relevant in the context of justice and wrongful convictions

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice.”

Bryan Stevenson

Public-interest lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, highlighting the interplay between poverty and injustice

“We have a system that allows us to manage a great degree of complexity in our society, but we haven’t been able to eradicate one of the most tragic errors, which is wrongful conviction.”

Jim Petro

Former Attorney General of Ohio, speaking on the issue of wrongful convictions.


The public disclosure of private facts that are objectionable consist of facts that would be offensive and objectionable to a reasonable person, [see: 429.39] And that are not of legitimate public concern. The terms “legitimate public concern” and “news worthiness” are often used interchangeably by the courts. The general rule is that a truthful publication will be constitutionally protected if 1) It is indeed news worthy, and 2) It does not reveal facts so offensive as to shock the community’s notions of decency. (Briscoe v. Reader’s Digest ASS,n Inc. (1971) 4 Cal.3d 529, 541, 93 Cal. Rptr. 866, 483 P.2d 34). However, the publication of truthful information obtained from official public court records of a criminal proceeding is Constitutionally protected regardless of any claim that the information is not news worthy. (Gates v. Discovery Communications, Inc. (2004) 34 Cal.4th 679, 692-697, 21 Cal. Rptr. 3d 633, 101 P.3d 552 n.9, 21 Cal. Rptr. 3d. 663, 101 P.3d 552). The privilege of publication of private facts may apply even when the private facts were declared confidential by statute. (Nicholson v. McClatchy Newspapers (1986) 177 Cal.App.3d 509, 516-521, 223 Cal. Rptr. 58). The burden of proving that the publication is not Constitutionally protected – that is that it is not news worthy – is on the plaintiff. (Diaz v. Oakland Tribune, Inc. (1983) 139 Cal.App.3d 118, 130, 188 Cal. Rptr. 762). In general, arrests and prosecutions of criminal suspects are matters of legitimate public concern. (Cox Broad. Corp. v. Cohn (1975) 420 U.S. 469, 493,95 S.Ct. 1029, 43 L.Ed 2d 328). In conclusion, even if police reports, interviews, expert witness reports and the like were in some way not considered “public record” in the traditional sense, and thus protected under the privacy acts set out in our Constitution — if it can be shown that there is a legitimate public interest in revealing their content it supercedes the individuals, and or institutions right to privacy.

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“It is well established that the release of information in open court ‘is a publication of that information and, if no effort is made to limit it’s disclosure, it operates as a waiver of any rights a party had to restrict it’s future use.'” (Littlejohn v. Bic Corp. 851 F.2d 673, 677- 78 (3rd Cir. 1988). And in Carnegie Mellon Univ. Marvell Tech. Grp. Ltd.

The court stated that “information deemed publicly available ‘includes documents that have been — entered as an exhibit during trial not under seal.'” (quoting Doc. 269 34). (Carnegie Mellon Univ. Marvell Tech. Grp. Ltd., No. Civ. A.09-290, 2013 U.S. Dist. Lexis 45050, 2013 WL 1336204, at *5 (W.D. Pa. Mar. 29, 2013).

“Historically, the courts have recognized a ‘general right to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial records and documents.” (Kamakana, 477 F.3d at 1178 (quoting Nixon v. Warner Communications, Inc. 435 U.S. 589, 597, 98 S. Ct. 1306, 55 L. Ed. 570 n.7 (1978). This common law right is based on the strong “public interest in understanding the judicial process.” (id. at 1178-79 (citations omitted). “Resolution of a dispute on the merits, whether by trial [-’’268] or summary judgement is at the heart of [this] interest.” (Id. at 1179; See: Nat’l Polymer Prods., Inc. v. Borg Warner Corp., 641 F.2d 418, 421- 23 (6th Cir. 1981) (Discussing the line of Supreme Court cases emphasizing the importance of public trials to our system of justice and recognizing the right to publish information made part of the record in a judicial proceeding); Siedle v. Putnam Invs. 147 F.3d 7. 10 (1st Cir. 1998). “Courts have long recognized ‘that public monitoring of the judicial system fosters the important values of quality, honesty and respect for our legal system,'” and this “recognition has given rise to a presumption that the public has a common-law right of access to judicial documents.” (Quoting Nixon, 435 U.S. at 597)).

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“What makes a document a judicial record and subjects it to the common-law right of access is the role it plays in the adjudicatory process.” (United States v. El-Sayegh, 131 F.3d 158, 163, 327 U.S. App. D.C. 308 (D.C. Cir. 1997) See: Kamakana, 497 F.3d at 1179; Explaining that “the public has less of a need for access to court records attached only to non-dispositive motions because those documents are often unrelated, or only tangentially related to the underlying cause of action.”)(citations omitted). Case law clearly recognizes that transcripts of court proceedings and exhibits presented in open court constitute judicial records for purposes of public right of access. While exhibits that are not openly displayed or discussed in court, [*269] but are admitted into evidence may ‘present a somewhat closer question, (Benedict v. Hankook Tire Co., 323 F. Supp. 3d 747, 760 n. 14 (E.D. Va. 2018). Courts have found that such exhibits become, “simply by virtue of that event, ‘judicial records subject to the public right of access.'” (Level 3 Commc’ns, LLC v. Limelight Networks, Inc., 611 F. Supp.2d 572, 589 (E.D. Va. 2009)(Citing cases); See; Curtusview Techs., LLC v. S@N locating sers., LLC, 198 F. Supp.3d 568, 588 n. 12 (E.D. Va. 2016)(“To the extent that the parties … have entered such documents into evidence, the court considers the parties arguments regarding the need for such information to be sealed to have been waived.”); Dees v. Cty. of San Diego, 302 F. Supp.3d 1168, 1173 n. 1 (S.D Cal. 2017)(Denying post trial motions to seal because the information in the documents became part of the public record when the exhibits were admitted into evidence during trial).

Furthermore, the jurors in this case were specifically instructed that the evidence they were to consider included the exhibits admitted into evidence. Those exhibits were indeed provided to the jurors in the jury room during deliberations. Except for some portions that parties jointly redacted with the courts approval before the exhibits were provided to the jury, jurors were free to review and consider all information contained in the exhibits, including information not displayed or discussed in the courtroom. (See; Baugh v. Cuprum S.A. de C.V., 730 F.3d 701, 708 (7th Cir. 2013)(Explaining that admitting documents as substantive evidence “sends an important signal” because “it alerts parties to the fact that the exhibit will become part of the actual evidence and therefore may well be available to the jury during deliberations”). The court has no reliable basis for concluding that all or portions of exhibits admitted into evidence and submitted to the jury were not considered by the jury in reaching a verdict.

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Importantly, even in cases where protective orders arguably could apply, such as the sealing of search warrant affidavits pre-trial, courts hold that admission of the exhibits into evidence waives coverage of the protective order. (See; Littlejohn, 851 F.2d at 680; see also; Weiss v. Allstate Ins. Co. No CIV. A. 06-3774, 2007 ILS. Dist. Lexis 59963, 2007 WL 2377119, at *3 (E.D. La. Aug. 16, 2007)(“0ther courts have likewise concluded that admission into evidence of confidential documents precludes an ex-post invocation of confidentiality provisions set forth in a previously entered protective order”)(citations omitted). See also (in re Application for an order pursuant to 18 U.S.C. section 2703(d), 707 F.3d 283, 290 (4th Cir. 2013) holding that “documents filed with the court are ‘judicial records’ if they play a role in the adjudicative process”); Tn re Providence Journal Co., 293 F.3d 1.9 (1st Cir. 2002)(Holding that the ‘presumptive right of access attaches to those materials’ which properly comes before the court in the course of an adjudicatory process”).

Judicial records, including the filings in court, are subject to a strong common law presumption of public access, (in re Cendent Corp. 260 F.3d 183, 192 (3d Cir. 2001); Miller v. Indiana Hosp., 16 F.3d 546, 551 (3d Cir. 1994); Leucedia, Inc. v. Applied Extrusion Tech., Inc., 998 F.2d 157,161 (3d Cir. 1993). “The credibility of our system of justice is predicated on the openness of it’s processes and proceedings.” (Pugliano v. Grace Holmes, Inc., Civ. No. 11-1562, 2012 U.S. Dist. Lexis 71454, 2012 WL 1866380, at *1 (W.D. Pa. May 22, 2012), See also; United States v. Cianfrani, 573 F.2d 835, 847 (3d Cir. 1978). “The Sixth Amendment reflects the traditional Anglo-American distrust for secret trials and is an expression of our belief that the knowledge that every criminal trial is subject to contemporaneous review in the form of public opinion is an effective restraint on possible abuse of judicial power.”)