Jewish Organization Heads Ask Florida Governor to Grant Clemency to Jewish Death-Row Inmate


A letter signed by the executive heads of seven Jewish organizations was sent to Florida Governor Charlie Crist today, imploring him to grant clemency to Martin Grossman, a death-row inmate scheduled for execution next Tuesday, and to allow him to repay his debt to society by serving the rest of his life in prison. The signatories also request a meeting in person with Governor Crist to discuss the matter and better relate the depth of their concern.

Mr. Grossman was convicted of killing Margaret Parks, a Florida Wildlife Officer in 1984, when he was 19 years old.  “Nothing in our humanitarian plea,” the letter reads in part, “is intended in any way to minimize the horror of the crime Mr. Grossman committed or the tragedy of Ms. Parks’s killing.”

But, the letter continues, the crime was committed when Mr. Grossman was under the influence of drugs and alchohol, and he “has conducted himself as a model prisoner since his incarceration some 25 years ago… [and] has shown profound remorse and regret for his actions.”

A copy of the letter is below. The organizations signed to it – Agudath Israel of America, the Aleph Institute, the National council of Young Israel, the Orthodox Union, the Rabbinical Council of America, the United Jewish Community Advocacy Relations & Enrichment and the United Jewish Organizations – have also called on their constituents to contact Governor Crist as individuals to plead that Mr. Grossman’s life be spared. The Governor’s e-mail address is [email protected] and his  phone number is: (850) 488-7146; he can be faxed at 850-487-0801.

Separately, 200 organizations, Jewish and non-Jewish, have sent Governor Crist a petition requesting a 60-day stay of the execution, in order to properly file an official request for clemency.

Honorable Charlie Crist
The Capitol
400 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399

Dear Governor Crist:

We write in connection with the tragic case of Martin Grossman, an inmate on death row whose execution is currently scheduled for this coming Tuesday, February 16, 2010. We are
representatives of major national Jewish organizations that speak for hundreds of thousands of Jewish families across the United States. We join together in this letter to plead with you, in the finest tradition of humanitarian compassion, to spare Mr. Grossman’s life.

We are well aware that Mr. Grossman was convicted of a most serious crime, the murder of Ms. Peggy Parks, to whose loved ones our hearts go out in deep sympathy. Nothing in our
humanitarian plea is intended in any way to minimize the horror of the crime Mr. Grossman committed or the tragedy of Ms. Parks’s killing.

At the same time, however, there are several factors in this case that militate against imposing the ultimate penalty of capital punishment. Mr. Grossman was all of 19-years-old at the
time he committed his crime. He may have killed, but he is not a killer. He acted under the influence of drugs and alcohol. His fatal shooting of Ms. Parks was not an act of premeditation, but of panic.

We further understand that Mr. Grossman has conducted himself as a model prisoner since his incarceration some 25 years ago. He has shown profound remorse and regret for his
actions. He has transformed himself from a deeply troubled teenager into a gentle and simple man, a proud practitioner of his faith and a humble servant of his G-d.

Respectfully, but urgently, we implore you to recognize the important humanitarian considerations at stake in this matter, and to spare Mr. Grossman’s life by granting him clemency
and allowing him to repay his debt to the Parks family and to society by serving the remainder of his life in prison.

We would deeply appreciate the opportunity to discuss this with you face to face, so that we might personally relate to you the depth of our concern. Many thanks and all good wishes.

Rabbi David Zwiebel
Executive Vice President
Agudath Israel of America

Rabbi Pesach Lerner
Executive Vice President
National Council of Young Israel

Rabbi Steven Weil
Executive Vice President
Orthodox Union

Rabbi Basil Herring
Executive Vice President
Rabbinical Council of America

Rabbi Aaron Lipskar
Executive Vice President
The Aleph Institute

Rabbi Moshe Vizel
Executive Vice President

Rabbi David Niederman
United Jewish Organizations


  1. Rabbosai, we must all do out part in this Mitzvah Rabba of Pikuach Nefesh mamish and call the Governor’s office!

    The Gedolim have made the call. Do your duty as a Yid, a Bnei Torah and Bnei Rachamim.

    This type of mitzvah rabba does not present itself (B”H) often.

  2. 2

    Contact the Governor!!

    If anyone wants to help with this really big mitzvah of saving a fellow jew please write and call the Office of Governor Charlie Crist.
    Address-State of Florida
    The Capitol
    400 S. Monroe St.
    Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

    * Citizen Services Hotline: (850) 488-4441
    * Executive Office of the Governor Switchboard: (850) 488-7146
    [Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time]

    Fax: (850) 487-0801

  3. How did this case end up on death row? I thought only premeditated murders get that far.
    There are so many inconsistencies in American justice.

  4. straightshooter1000,

    The American legal system falls so far short of Noachide standards regarding capital cases that two different rabbis have told me that it is not permitted for a Jew to serve on a jury in a capital case. Not only do we execute people for nonpremeditated murders, we do so when there aren’t eyewitnesses, allow circumstantial evidence, and at times even hearsay. The only practical solution is to abolish the death penalty, as most civilized nations have done.

  5. Straightshooter, the killing of a law enforcement officer in the line of duty qualifies as a death penalty case. As a retired law enforcement officer I look at such individuals differently than the general community; however, after working in the legal system, I don’t trust it and do not support the death penalty under any circumstance, i.e. legends of people being exhonerated by DNA evidence which, to me, means prior overzealous prosecution. You may also email to the governor’s office your opinion and desires regarding the pending execution. The views will get to the governor more quickly than through snail mail especially considering the current state of the weather.