Letter to Michigan Parole Board Chairperson
December 6, 2021
Mr. Brian Shipman, Parole Board Chairperson
Michigan Department of Correction Office of the Parole Board
206 E Michigan Avenue Grandview Plaza
Lansing, MI 48933
Re: Commutation for Nancy Seaman #520695
Dear Mr. Shipman:
Since the Parole Board operates with the practice that something extraordinary must occur before granting commutation in first-degree murder cases, I want to bring to your attention that Ms. Seaman’s conviction was overturned twice on appeal in 2005 and 2010.
Judges McDonald, Fort-Hood, and Friedman have all ruled that the evidence does not support the first-degree murder conviction that has sentenced Ms. Seaman to Life. With good reason, judges are reluctant to disturb a jury verdict; the fact that three judges have done just that is significant and warrants review.
We have added a critical component to the 2021 commutation: a year-long study of Ms. Seaman’s case by Michigan State University Safe Place Director Holly Rosen, LMSW, a domestic violence and trauma expert with forty years of experience. Ms. Rosen has been testifying on behalf of domestic violence and sexual assault victims for both the prosecution and the defense for over twenty years. There have been significant advancements in the study of PTSD that Ms. Rosen addresses in her report. Unfortunately, critical factors regarding PTSD were not considered in the Seaman trial. That crucial evidence was not presented to the jury even though Ms. Seaman was clinically diagnosed in 2004 with severe PTSD by Dr. Lenore Walker and Dr. Michael Abramsky. We sincerely hope that this information will be evaluated by the Parole Board and result in Ms. Seaman’s opportunity to receive a grant of commutation by Governor Whitmer.
In November 2018, shortly before Governor Snyder left office, the Honorable Oakland County Judge Jack McDonald, the retired MDOC prison psychologist Mr. Nels Thompson, and I met with Parole Board Chairperson Mr. Michael Eagen. Mr. Eagen explained that the Parole Board is not established to re-try a case and chose not to give Ms. Seaman a public hearing and commutation despite the pleas from Judge McDonald, Federal Judge Bernard Friedman, former Judge Norman Lippitt, former Judge Fred Mester for her release.
Perhaps the Parole Board would consider having experts of domestic violence like Ms. Rosen, Dr. Lenore Walker, Dr. Michael Abramsky, Dr. Donna Lamar, Kathy Hagenian, who for years worked with the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, and Debi Cain with the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board, to educate and weigh in on Ms. Seaman’s case before denying her freedom? If these practices were followed, the trier of fact would be better informed to, and in some cases, would reach a different conclusion versus relying on the Presentencing Investigation Report.
With that in mind, we ask that the Parole Board strongly consider reading the report prepared by Ms. Rosen and consulting with any of the above domestic violence experts before deciding to keep Ms. Seaman incarcerated. Also, please know that a few sections of the report have been woven into the commutation application itself, with the full report to follow.
In October 2021, I sent a letter to the jury members in Ms. Seaman’s 2004 trial, including this report. One of the jurors studied the report and called to tell me that if he had been privy to any of this information during the trial, he would have never agreed to Ms. Seaman’s first-degree murder conviction and Life sentence. He offered to sign an affidavit with a genuine hope it will aid in her release.
To access the letter to Seaman Jury Members, Ms. Rosen’s Report, a letter from Dr. Lenore Walker, and a letter from Judge Jack McDonald, go to this link: https://jtsadvocates.com/letter-to-jury-for-nancy-seaman-trial/
The psychologist who worked for the Michigan Department of Corrections for 18 years, Mr. Nels Thompson, diagnosed Ms. Seaman as a victim of domestic violence who poses no threat to society and supports her immediate release. Several experts have not only written letters in support of Ms. Seaman’s release but made appearances on national media over the past several years. In addition, she has strong public support for her release, knowing she is not a harm to society and does not deserve to die in prison.
In conclusion, the following attached link is of Ms. Seaman’s trial judge advocating to Governor Snyder for her release. Even though Judge McDonald passed in 2019, he would be most honored if you and Governor Gretchen Whitmer would listen to his plea in the following video: https://youtu.be/mlK70k85UaI
The citizens of Michigan appreciate your consideration.
cc: Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Attorney General Dana Nessel
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald
Citizens of Michigan
The goal of this campaign is to convince our legislators in the state of Michigan to change People v Christel to model the California law in order to bring #Justice4Women.