Bob Shell: The Wheels of Justice

Bob Shell: The Wheels of Justice

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2020

The Wheels of Justice



Early this year, I filed an ‘Independent Action to Vacate for Fraud on the Court, to get my false convictions overturned.

It took me more than three years to do the legal research and write this Independent Action. An Independent Action is like a Motion with more chutzpah. They are used to effect some action by a court, in this case to vacate my convictions. I identified five different frauds that the Commonwealth (Virginia is a Commonwealth) committed against me, documented in detail.

The most significant frauds were false testimony given by the Commonwealth’s main witnesses, false testimony without which the jury would never have believed the allegations against me, and I could never have been convicted.

The judge in Radford just sat on my Independent Action, refusing to rule on it, which prevented me from appealing to the Virginia Supreme Court, what I’ve wanted all along.

His refusal to act was a violation of the Canons Of Judicial Conduct, the rules judges are supposed to follow, and require prompt response to filings.

After waiting months with no ruling on my action, I petitioned the Virginia Supreme Court to issue a Writ of Mandamus against the judge. A Writ of Mandamus is a legal instrument forcing a judge to act, when he should act, but doesn’t.

In response to my petition, the Virginia Supreme Court issued a ‘Show Cause’ order against the judge, ordering him to rule on my action, or show cause why he couldn’t or shouldn’t, by November 15. Instead of responding to the ‘Show Cause’ order, he wrote an overdue order denying my Independent Action, to forestall the Virginia Supreme Court from coming down on him over nonresponse to their ‘Show Cause’ order.

But, and here is the truly astounding part of this judicial Odyssey. He wrote the order citing the correct case number, but denying the WRONG case!

His order denies an ‘Independent Action for Violation of Speedy Trial,’ a totally different case filed a year earlier and that he already denied, and which has nothing to do with my action for fraud, which doesn’t even mention speedy trial!. Incompetence of this level is hard to believe!

I have asked the Virginia Supreme Court to come down hard on him for this. This is my life at stake, and he couldn’t even be bothered to act on the right case!

Right now, we are under a State of Judicial Emergency declared by the Virginia Supreme Court, meaning that courts are operating at the bare minimum, and all VDOC law libraries are closed. I can’t do the research and appeal anything right now. Once the Judicial Emergency is over, I’ll have 90 days to appeal the judge’s denial of my speedy trial action, and take whatever action the Virginia Supreme Court decides is appropriate in this judicial SNAFU over my fraud case. What they will do is anybody’s guess.

My guess is that they will order the judge to go back and act on the right case, even though he clearly missed their deadline to respond to their ‘Show Cause’ order.

I’ve tried repeatedly to get an order to depose the Commonwealth’s Chief Medical Examiner, who says the medical testimony used to convict me was, “Just wrong!” but the same judge has blocked my efforts to get the Chief ME’s testimony on the record. The Chief ME even volunteered to be deposed and forego his usual fee, but without a judge’s cooperation I can’t have a deposition done.

It’s plain to anyone who looks at the evidence that I was wrongly convicted, but the judge and prosecutor don’t want to admit that they sent an innocent man to prison for an extraordinarily long sentence, so my efforts to set the record straight have been blocked.

A friend recently asked me how I’ve managed to keep my spirits up. The answer is that I have a clear conscience, because I did none of the things I was accused of. In my own mind, I know the truth, and nothing will ever change that.

My other legal actions are also on hold because of the Judicial Emergency, that doesn’t look to end anytime soon.

My photography studio’s contents are still in storage, waiting for my release. Friends have kept the storage rent paid. If anyone reading this who hasn’t contributed to this cause would like to help, please contact me. Thank you to everyone concerned about my welfare. I’m doing well health wise except for arthritis, which is always worse in cold weather.

Happy Holidays to all!


About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read Bob Shell’s, first essay on civil war, click here:

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on

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