Instructions on Writing Letters To Judge Before Jim Duensing’s Sentencing


This information was provided to me by Beth Duensing, mother of Jim Duensing. Jim was found guilty November 8 of three crimes associated with an incident 5 years ago where Jim was shot by a policeman. Background can be found here . This letter from Ray and Beth Duensing provides some instructions as to how Jim’s friends and fellow activists can correspond with the judge who will be present at Jim’s sentencing.

Dear Friends,

Jim Duensing’s sentencing is currently scheduled for January 15, 2015. Friends, colleagues and family sending character letters of support, may very well help Jim receive the lightest possible sentence. Probation is an option available to the judge.

The purpose of this letter is to advise you of how Jim’s attorney recommends letters be written in terms of when and where to send the letters, proper manner of addressing the Judge, and some do’s and don’ts about content.

The courts and probation officers do read and consider these letters. They are a vital part of the sentencing process. A well-drafted and heartfelt letter may make all the difference in the world to Jim and his family. Please mail your letter at your earliest convenience and prior to December 10th if at all possible.

All letters should be mailed to:

Mr. Tom Pitaro
Pitaro & Fumo Chtd.
601 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89101

This is critical because, although you of course will include in your letter only what you consider to be information helpful to Jim at sentencing, there is always a possibility that someone may unintentionally include something that could actually be harmful. Before letters are sent to the Judge, Jim’s attorney will check them in light of his experience
to be confident that only potentially helpful material is submitted. In addition, all of the letters to the Judge are most beneficial when submitted at one time and in an organized way through his attorney.

As to content of the letter, we want to be able to show the Judge the many positive aspects of Jim’s character and background. Below is a brief outline that you can use to help you with your letter. Of course, it is important that you write your own letter in your own words. You should identify in the letter how you know Jim and for how long. It might be good to include, from personal experience, a specific and heartwarming example of Jim’s generous, kind,
and/or loving character. A more general letter about a lengthy and positive relationship in which Jim has been a trustworthy, principled and caring friend is also helpful.

In contrast, it would not be useful to declare that Jim is or must be innocent or to express anger or resentment as to his treatment by the government or the Judge. There is always a risk that such sentiments will be attributed to him and be held against him. Likewise, some indication that you recognize that he has been found guilty by the jury, but you still hold the high opinion of him that you have, can be helpful.

So as you can see, the focus should be on Jim as a person, and not on any feelings as to his guilt or innocence, about whether someone else is really to blame for what has happened to Jim, or about the criminal justice system in general. Requesting lenient treatment at sentencing with supporting statements to persuade the court that incarceration would serve no useful purpose and create great hardship on Jim’s young step-daughters, and imperil his
ability to support and provide for the welfare of his family would be most helpful.

Thank you all in advance for your help and support to Jim during this difficult time. Your letters of support are invaluable. The appeal is extremely expensive and the financial needs for Jim and his family are great while he is incarcerated and unable to provide for them. If you are able, donations in any amount would be greatly appreciated. A paypal account has been set up to accept your gift:   FundJimsAppeal@WeKnowTheTruth.Net

With our most sincere gratitude,

Ray and Beth Duensing,
PO Box 516, St. John, IN 46373 phone: 219-365-4400

Sample Letter Format: It is very important that you use your own heartfelt words. Please use the outline as just one example.

The letter may be on your letterhead and addressed to the Judge.

All letters should be mailed to:

Mr. Tom Pitaro
Pitaro & Fumo Chtd.
601 Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89101

Honorable Michelle Leavitt
Regional Justice Center
200 Lewis Ave., Courtroom 14D
Las Vegas, NV 89155

Re: Raymond James Duensing (include Jim’s name in a Re: section and/or within the first sentence of your letter such as: I am writing to you today requesting leniency in your
sentencing of Raymond James Duensing.)

Address the judge by your choice of: Dear Honorable Michelle Leavitt; or Dear Judge Michelle Leavitt; or Your Honor;

I. Relationship:

a. In what capacity do you know Jim? (i.e. relative, friend, co-worker, client)
b. How long have you known him?
c. Feelings for Jim. It is helpful to show love, friendship, and respect.

II. Statement on character:

a. What good things can you say about Jim.
b. Mention character traits (honesty, courage, generosity, love, etc. and examples)
c. Offer any personal experiences, short stories or insights that may help the Judge understand Jim’s true character. Maybe you volunteered together or he offered to do pro-bono legal work for you?

III. Conclusion:

a. Express to Judge in your own words how Jim wants to go forward with his life.
b. Because probation is a possibility in this case, it is important to tell the Judge that you do not think society would benefit from sending Jim to jail and that a prison sentence would be detrimental to all concerned. It is important to explain why you think this.

Respectfully yours,

Your Name
and Contact information

22 thoughts on “Instructions on Writing Letters To Judge Before Jim Duensing’s Sentencing

  1. paulie

    Thanks for posting this, Jill. Beth also left the following on the last story:

    1) The best way to get money to Jim for his commissary account would be to give it to Angy. There are different accounts set up for Jim for both phone use and commissary. For Jim?s safety there should not be excessive funds in these accounts. Please provide any donations for Jim?s accts to Angy. She will ensure his accounts are appropriately funded and Jim will gain peace of mind by knowing she can afford to visit etc. Thank you.

    2) Jim can receive mail. Do note that EVERYTHING he receives will be open and read. Mail may not contain crayon, metallic ink, news clippings, glue, glitter, powder, pop-outs, etc.

    Raymond James Duensing
    ID# 1841986
    Clark County Detention Center
    330 South Casino Center Drive
    Las Vegas, NV 89101

    3) I don?t know about political literature, but there is a small library where Jim may be able to leave libertarian themed paperback books after he?s read them. Jim is an avid reader. I know his time will go by more quickly if has books to read.

    To give you an idea of his choice of reading material I?ve already ordered at his request:

    A Geometric Analysis of the Platonic Solids and Other Semi-Regular Polyhedra (Geometric Explorations Series) by Kenneth J.M. MacLean
    A History of Money and Banking in the United States (Large Print Edition): The Colonial Era to World War II by Rothbard, Murray N.

    Several of Jim?s friends in NV have also asked about sending books and he?s said he would welcome and appreciate any books that they have enjoyed. With that in mind, I?ve also sent the first two books in Michele Poague?s trilogy, Heir to Power and Fall of Eden that I enjoyed and Paul Revere?s Ride by David Hackett Fischer that Jim?s Dad enjoyed.

    Thank you in advance to anyone that would like to send one of their favorite books to Jim.
    There are rules of course ? books must be sent directly from the publisher or a commercial dealer ? see instructions from their website I?ve pasted below:

    All incoming mail will be opened and inspected for contraband prior to delivery.
    The following information is required on all incoming inmate mail:

    Raymond James Duensing
    ID # 1841986
    Clark County Detention Center
    330 South Casino Center Blvd.
    Las Vegas, NV 89101

    Publications acceptable for distribution to inmates include magazines, periodicals, soft-covered books, and newspapers must be mailed directly from a publisher or commercial dealer. Items from a commercial dealer must clearly identify the contents. Pornographic material of any kind will not be allowed or accepted.

    The following items and contents listed (but not limited to) will not be allowed in the inmate?s mail:

    Un-cancelled stamps, blank stationery or cards, blank or self-addressed envelopes and cards with glitter.

    Nude, partially nude, or sexually explicit items in nature.

    Obscene literature.

    Any article that could be considered a health hazard.

    Cards, letters, or photographs that are glued, taped, or stapled together.

    Cards or photographs larger than 6? x 8?; acceptable-sized photos are limited to 15.

    Any article containing or having been marked with any substance(s) not readily identifiable as being acceptable; including but not limited to: glitter, crayon, or white-out.

    Any item that could be used to circumvent or subvert the safety and security of the facility.

    4) Paulie ? the snailmailme thing is an excellent idea that I would be happy to continue for anyone that wants to send Jim mail. I mail to Jim frequently and would be happy to print and snailmail any emailed messages for him sent to: This email address is also set up with PayPal should anyone wish to send a monetary donation/gift to help fund his appeal.

  2. Beth Duensing

    THANK YOU to each of you sending a letter requesting leniency through Jim’s attorney. And special thanks too, to everyone who has so generously donated toward Jim’s appeal. We are all so appreciative of your help and support.

    On another thread Paulie had mentioned that it was difficult for some to print and snail mail messages. As that is the only way Jim may receive messages right now, I would be happy to print and snailmail any emailed messages for him.

    Please send your messages to:

    This email address is also set up with PayPal should you wish to send a monetary donation/gift to help fund his appeal.

  3. Beth Duensing

    Thank you to everyone that has written on Jim’s behalf. Your letters can make a large impact with the judge. She can sentence Jim to probation which would allow him to continue supporting his family and help alleviate the devastation that his little girls (6 and 8) are currently enduring.

    The suggested date for mailing listed above is today, the 10th. The attorney has been able to extend that another couple weeks. Your help and support is greatly appreciated.

  4. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    I’m writing my letter right now.

    I see on Facebook that there’s still time to write a letter to help sway the judge to give Jim probation, or a very short term in prison.

  5. Beth Duensing

    Thanks Jill. Yes there is still time. Getting the letters in this next week will be great.

  6. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    Very important! I received my letter back from the post office today. Turns out the street address should be: 601 S. Las Vegas Blvd. I have corrected it in the article. It’s not too late to write a letter in support!

  7. paulie

    I saw a post on FB that said Saturday was the deadline except for people that could give it to Tasha Heath in person by yesterday. Has that been changed?

  8. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    Yes. I just talked with Beth. She said there’s still time to write a letter.

  9. Beth Duensing

    Saturday was not the deadline Paulie. One of Jim’s friends kindly offered to hand deliver letters but mailed letters are just fine. The courts work slowly especially with all the holidays and the attorneys are still waiting for a report. Mailing letters by the end of the month should be just fine.

    A few people have mentioned to me that they have had their letters returned. The address given out earlier and posted above has now been corrected. It was missing the South – 601 S. Las Vegas Blvd.

    I did receive a list from the attorney with the names of all that have sent letters. If anyone would like me to confirm receipt of their letter please don’t hesitate to ask.

    Asking by private email would be fine:

    Thank you to all that have written. Your help and support is greatly appreciated.

  10. paulie

    I meant to write one earlier but was hoping to be more eloquent than anything I had thought of, so I hadn’t written it yet. Would you be able to print out an email and send it for me? I don’t have envelopes, stamps etc or transportation to go get them.

  11. Beth Duensing

    I’d be happy to forward an email for you Paulie.

    Some people have shared their letters with me confidentially. I would not post them and do believe it best that all letters remain private. The letters I’ve read have been wonderfully heartfelt and as they are addressed to the judge should not be posted in a public forum.

  12. paulie

    I put my letter in on January 1 and it was not too late. I don’t know about now. I didn’t think of anything brilliant to say but it is free to share if anyone wants a basic template, if it is not too late.

  13. Andy


    January 15, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    he got probation , there is agod”

    I am glad to see that he only got probation. I assume that this means that he’ll still be able to vote and own a gun, right?

  14. paulie

    I assume that this means that he’ll still be able to vote and own a gun, right?

    I wouldn’t assume that. Felony probation generally means you do lose those rights. It’s a matter of state law and the individual probation conditions, though.

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