Letter to the Attorney General of the State of Michigan on Behalf of Nancy Seaman

Sandra Schwartz

May 22, 2019

Attorney General Dana Nessel
Conviction Integrity Unit
Attn: Robyn Frankel
G. Mennen Williams Bldg. – 7th Floor
525 W. Ottawa – P.O. Box 30212
Lansing, MI 48909

Dear Attorney General Nessel,

I am writing this letter on behalf of my former teaching colleague and friend, Nancy Seaman. Nan-cy has been incarcerated for the past 15 years following a 2004 conviction of first degree murder and mandatory sentencing of life without parole.

Those of us who advocate for Nancy, and there are many, are encouraged by the launching of your investigative unit within the Criminal Appellate Division and its intention to rectify wrongful con-victions. Nancy was a victim of spousal abuse throughout her 31 year marriage. Nancy killed her husband in self-defense. She was a classic example of a woman suffering from Battered Woman Syndrome in the professional opinion of Dr. Lenore Walker, world renowned expert on the sub-ject. Under Michigan law, Dr. Walker’s testimony was not allowed in the trial.

Judge John McDonald, who presided over Nancy’s trial, knew immediately that the conviction of premeditated murder was unjust. After overturning the verdict in 2005, and replacing it with a charge of second degree murder, Judge McDonald has remained steadfast in his assertion that Nancy was overcharged. Of all the cases he presided over, Nancy’s is the one that has continued to haunt him, and he has remained a strong advocate of hers ever since. Two additional judges, Mich-igan Court of Appeals Judge Karen Fort-Hood and federal Judge Bernard Friedman, upon appel-late review of her case, agreed with Judge McDonald’s determination that the evidence was insuf-ficient to support a finding of premeditation and deliberation. Three times judicial determinations were made that Nancy Seaman was not guilty of the crime charged, and three times the prosecutor, who was at the time, Lisa Ortlieb, now Judge Lisa Gorcyca, and her husband, former Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca, fought ferociously to deny a resentencing for Nancy. In De-cember, 2018, it was once again David Gorcyca who reportedly stood in the way of a commutation by outgoing Governor Snyder.

Please include Nancy Seaman’s case with the others that your Conviction Integrity Unit is so hon-orably investigating. Surely it is worthy of their consideration. I hope you see, as I do, the lack of integrity in the fact that if not for the efforts of Lisa and David Gorcyca, the injustice in Nancy’s case would have already been rectified.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Very truly yours,

Sandra R. Schwartz

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