Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike's Letter

July 11th, 2000 12:00 AM

My Sister Anne

Dear friends,

I am blessed with two incredible sisters. Their names are Anne and Veronica. I rarely speak publicly about them as they are not public people and I think they rather enjoy the anonymity I sometimes wish I still had. Since they were teenagers, Anne and Veronica have been active in many good causes. Unlike me, they were responsible and got a college education. They became public school teachers and toiled for years to help kids have a better shot at this world, often in spite of what we call an "education system" in this country.

Many of you know Veronica because, since leaving teaching, she has helped me set up our presence on the Internet, and she answers a lot of the mail you send me.

Anne also left teaching a few years ago to go to law school. When she got her degree, she decided to set up a practice with her husband (also an attorney) that would serve the poor. They made no money but they helped a lot of people in San Francisco's Tenderloin district. A couple of years ago Anne went to work as a public defender for Nevada County in northern California.

She wasn't in the office long when she discovered that the poor, who were supposed to receive legal representation from the public defender's office, were instead being railroaded - without a trial - directly to prison.

In fact, during her first year there - 1998 - out of 900 poor people arrested by the police, only ONE got a jury trial! Most of the rest were badgered into pleading guilty and going to prison or, in some cases, taking probation.

When she told me this I was stunned. She told me how there was one lawyer in the public defender's office who had not tried a felony case in nearly 5 years. Anne set about trying to convince her fellow public defenders that they should be doing their job. They, in turn, then began harassing her. Finally, she blew the whistle and revealed to the county board how the defendants who live in poverty were being denied their 6th Amendment rights.

Tomorrow night (Wednesday, July 12) I take a trip to Nevada County on "The Awful Truth" and go face to face with the judges, D.A.'s and public defenders who probably thought no one would ever notice what they were getting away with up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

I invite you to check out this powerful episode and see firsthand a small slice of why we now have a half million more people in prison than the Chinese (whose population tops ours by a billion!).

"The Awful Truth" airs on Bravo at 10 p.m. ET/PT, 9 p.m. CT (also at 7 p.m. PT and 1 a.m. ET) and on free television in the UK tonight on Channel 4. (Canadians: the series starts in September on Bravo Canada).

I'm very proud of Anne and Veronica. They are unsung heroes, like many of you, quietly making their contribution, taking risks, and always following their conscience.

Michael Moore

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