The New York State Court of Appeals, after hearing oral arguments in the case on October 15th, has finally issued its written opinion overturning (in part) the lower courts ruling which had dismissed the manslaughter as a hate crime conviction of convicted killer Dwight DeLee. The high court decided that rather than dismissing the conviction, DeLee could be re-charged with manslaughter as a hate crime and be re-tried in Onondaga County. Should he be convicted again as is highly likely, he will finally be put back in jail to serve the long sentence he so richly deserves (20 years).
Our group organized a rally on the steps of the court house in Albany last month and, with the assistance of the Pride Agenda and GLAAD, we were able to make sure that the court room was filled with members of the Green family and their supporters. Groups from Rochester, Long Island and Albany assisted all the Syracuse folks in witnessing the case and being sure that the justices were aware that their decision would not escape the notice of the LGBT community.
We can’t know for sure what effect our presence had on the court’s decision but we do know that it is an extraordinary decision which completely changed the law as it is applied to similar cases. I have to believe that the outrage our community showed over the injustice inflicted on the Green family and the court’s decision to reverse long standing precedent are not a coincidence.
This case shows that if trans people are willing to be out front, to organize themselves and to fight back, that they can make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of their brothers and sisters.