Our Injustice System and the Death of an Innocent Man

francine hardaway
4 min readAug 27

When endless hounding by the Department of Justice and the FBI cause an old friend of yours to drive himself to a lonely road in Arizona on a weekday morning and put a bullet through his head, it is hard to believe that our justice system is worth the money you pay in taxes.

Some common things you believe about the vaunted American justice system are no longer true, including: 1)The FBI is only an investigatory agency.

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2) Americans get fair and speedy trials.

3) Platforms are protected by Article 230 from being responsible for user-generated content.

4)Prosecutors are competent and apolitical.

5)And perhaps most important, you can’t be punished until you are proven guilty.

It doesn’t matter what party you belong to, people are human beings and deserve to be treated as much. They are not just pawns in somebody’s career ascendance. And yet greedy prosecutors and corrupt politicians have used the FBI to their own ends once again. Now they have caused my friend Lacey to lose his partner and friend of 40 years just before the start of their second trial for — -being investigative journalists.

August 29 will be the start of the second trial for Mike Lacey, the surviving member of the celebrated New Times Media’s founding team. Lacey was the writer and editor of the company, while Jim Larkin, the man who shot himself several weeks ago rather than go through another trial, was the business side.

I emailed Lacey last night and he said his grief was “unrelenting.” Of course it is. They had worked together all their lives for justice and transparency.

Both men, along with several other members of their Backpage staff were arrested in 2018. The charges were trumped up from the beginning, politically motivated by a Washington committee led by John McCain, whose wife Cindy had no fondness for Lacey’s exposure of her problems..

Their first trial was declared a mistrial in 2021. It is now 2023 and Lacey, a 74-year-old writer rendered practically penniless by the FBI’s confiscatory policy and the expenses of his defense, still refuses to give up. Tattooed on his knuckled are the words “Hold Fast.”

francine hardaway

Co-founder, Stealthmode Partners, helping entrepreneurs succeed