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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

He Was on Death Row for 30 Years for a Crime He Did Not Commit

Posted by on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 10:01 AM

This is an important story I missed in the Morning News, so it's getting its own post. "Glenn Ford, a black man wrongfully convicted of murder by an all-white jury in Louisiana in 1984," was released yesterday after finally being exonerated, The Atlantic reports. Even though he wasn't present during the robbery and murder in question, it only took the jury three hours to decide he was guilty. "Prior to his March 11 release, Ford had been on Louisiana's death row longer than any other prisoner." I'm not sure what the law in Louisiana is, but usually the wrongfully convicted have no legal recourse after exoneration—they can't sue for damages, they get no help from the state in putting their life back together. Thirty. Fucking. Years.



Comments (25) RSS

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FYI BBC states:
State law entitles those who have served time but are later exonerated to receive compensation.

It sets out payments of $25,000 (£15,000) per year of wrongful incarceration up to a maximum of $250,000 (£150,000), plus up to $80,000 (£48,000) for loss of "life opportunities".

Not arguing that such a payment amounts to anything close to justice, but it's better than nothing.
Posted by -J on March 12, 2014 at 10:12 AM · Report this
I think what it shows is that people who use public defenders in their defense are likely to be railroaded by a system setup to incarcerate defendants, not examine truth and reform criminals.…
The record shows Ford was ill-served at nearly every point in his laborious and terrifying trip through the Louisiana criminal justice system.

First, although the police had informants telling them Ford was not their guy, and the informants fingered the same two people Ford mentioned when he voluntarily came to headquarters to talk to the cops, that information was suppressed. In other words, officers could have nailed, or tried to nail, the guys who probably killed Isadore Roseman in his own home, but instead chose to go after someone who they had a pretty good idea didn't.

Everyone should be scared by that.

Both lawyers who represented Ford at trial were rookies in terms of criminal cases before juries. One was two years out of law school and working for a slip-and-fall sort of firm, according to an account released by attorneys with the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana.

Then, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld Ford's conviction and sentence despite raising "serious questions" about the quality of the state's evidence and concluding the case for guilt was "not overwhelming."

One Supreme Court justice dissented, writing he was "not convinced that a rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime of first degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt," the report notes.
Posted by ChefJoe on March 12, 2014 at 10:23 AM · Report this
fletc3her 3
If there were any justice those who denied him of his life and those who upheld the wrongful conviction would be serving time.
Posted by fletc3her on March 12, 2014 at 10:37 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 4
A black man in a deep south state wrongly convicted. Shocking.

Also, prosecutors and law enforcement don't care if they get the right person or not. All they care about is closing cases. Period. If the wrong person is convicted? Whatever... as long as the case is closed.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on March 12, 2014 at 10:57 AM · Report this
@3, do you really want to set the precedent to punish juries that convict someone who is later found innocent? That might be the stupidest fucking idea I've ever head in these comments, which is quite an accomplishment.
Posted by Keenan C on March 12, 2014 at 10:59 AM · Report this
I am sitting in the bullpen area of my county courthouse waiting on jury duty. I was upstairs & interviewed for a jury but found wanting I guess.

A question from the judge to each juror "If you had unlimited money what would you do to improve the justice system?" I mentioned the innocence project and how courts are never reviewed to find out why mistakes are made & how to prevent them. The number of people on death row who are not guilty of the crime is sickening. That nobody is interested in how they got there or how we could prevent more of them getting there is awful.
Posted by frankdawg on March 12, 2014 at 11:07 AM · Report this
mikethehammer 7
One of Grisham's only (maybe THE only) forays into non-fiction is a worthwhile, but utterly maddening, examination into a wrongful conviction that cost a man nearly his entire adult life. The Innocent Man. Definitely worth your time next time you're in need of a page turner.
Posted by mikethehammer on March 12, 2014 at 11:13 AM · Report this
Trent Moorman 8
5, really? The stupidest idea you've ever heard in the comments?

Let's put you in jail, on death row, for 30 years for something you didn't do, then see if you think it's the stupidest idea you've ever heard.

I'd love to hear what Glenn Ford has to say to the judge and the prosecuting attorneys.
Posted by Trent Moorman on March 12, 2014 at 11:33 AM · Report this
Trent Moorman 9
I'm thinking more toward the judge and prosecuting attorneys, not so much the jurors. Sorry, I'd put this judge and the prosecuting attorneys in jail.
Posted by Trent Moorman on March 12, 2014 at 11:36 AM · Report this
Sir Vic 10
@6 If you want to be on a jury, act as stupid as possible. Have problems finding your chair, stumble into the jury box, pick your nose and stare into space. Lawyers want the stupidest possible people on a jury, so they accept whatever the lawyer says in court.

If you don't want to be on a jury, act like a responsible adult that can read the signs above doors, tell time, and breathe with your mouth closed. Lawyers are suspicious of anybody that can think for themselves.
Posted by Sir Vic on March 12, 2014 at 11:38 AM · Report this
@5, If juries have the threat of prison hanging over their heads for wrongfully convicting someone, it would single handedly destroy the entire American criminal justice system. No one would ever show up for jury duty, let alone convict anyone. Plus juries base their decision on what they see in court, which may not include all of the evidence due to any number of incompetencies or injustices. Yes this case was a sad example of racism in the courts, but you're a fool if you think punishing jurors is a solution.
Posted by Keenan C on March 12, 2014 at 11:39 AM · Report this
@9 - I still disagree with you on prosecuting attorneys. It's their job to be as one sided as possible to get a conviction, just as it's the defense attorney's job to be as one sided as possible to get their client acquitted, even if neither of them actually BELIEVE the accused is guilty or innocent. It's how the adversarial system is supposed to work. Now judges can be racist shitbags, and they perhaps they should be held accountable in some way if they don't conduct the trial appropriately. However we have so many appeals processes, especially for death penalty convictions, that you're going to go through several judges before you actually get put to death.
Posted by Keenan C on March 12, 2014 at 11:47 AM · Report this
juche 13
The article implies that being wrongfully convicted of a crime only applies to black people. In reality it can happen to anyone, there are always exceptions to the rule but they do not change the overall picture. Nice job anyway stranger for publishing something controversial that gets attention. Tin hat conspiracy against black people is a great story for attracting these self righteous, white urban liberal 20-30 something's with expendable income who make up the readership and think they are a part of some crusade against racism.
Posted by juche on March 12, 2014 at 12:03 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 14

Speaking of criminals, if you want to see the hypocracy of how the Northwest treats one of it's "natives" (and I'll allow you to guess how that is defined) who commits felonies versus anyone else, you are invited to read the fawning tale and glowing comments below in this KOMO story on Colton "Barefoot Bandit" Harris-Moore.

Let me put it this way. At no point did the article use the word "thug", and the tears of sweet little old local ladies dripped through the LCD.…
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on March 12, 2014 at 12:39 PM · Report this
@12. You misunderstand prosecutorial ethics. It absolutely is not the prosecutor's job to be "as one sided as possible to get a conviction." Prosecutors represent the state, not any individual, and their job is to ensure that the right person is prosecuted, fairly, for the right crime. A prosecutor who initiates or persists in prosecution of a defendant he or she has good reason to believe is not guilty violates legal ethics and the law. Unfortunately, prosecutors have immunity from most lawsuits, and are rarely disciplined by ethics boards.
Posted by olypop on March 12, 2014 at 1:32 PM · Report this
Trent Moorman 16
Hey Juche,

What are thoughts on Glenn Ford? What are your thoughts on the justice system that had him on death row for 30 years.

I don't have "expendable income."

Maybe try not making sweeping generalizations about people you don't know.
Posted by Trent Moorman on March 12, 2014 at 1:35 PM · Report this
Trent Moorman 17
What are 'your' thoughts on Glenn Ford...
Posted by Trent Moorman on March 12, 2014 at 1:37 PM · Report this
@17 After perusing his contributions on Danielle's thread, I am not sure that juche has what one could rightly describe as "thoughts" on these issues.
Posted by How About Just A Little Light Stretching? on March 12, 2014 at 2:12 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 19
This is exactly why I am vehemently opposed to the death penalty.

It isn't that I have any sympathy for murderers. It is because our justice system is fallible, and sometimes racist and/or incompetent. Hopefully it is rare, but sometimes the justice system convicts an innocent person. As fucked up as it is for Glenn Ford to have spent 30 years in jail for a crime he didn't commit, think how much worse would it have been if Louisiana had executed him?
Posted by Reverse Polarity on March 12, 2014 at 3:28 PM · Report this
french_desperation 20

I was wondering about Juche's forceful use of the word "degenerate" and then it hit me; Juche is a /pol/tard. I didn't think any of /pol/ would read The Stranger.
Posted by french_desperation on March 12, 2014 at 4:09 PM · Report this
Anna Anna Anna 21
Juche, I don't have expendable income. I'm in debt. I'm white. I'm in love with an African American man. I was raised by an African American woman. But because I'm white, I can't have an opinion on injustice? Fuck you.

An innocent man on death row for 30 years angers me.

People like "Juche" anger me.
Posted by Anna Anna Anna on March 12, 2014 at 6:53 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 22

I think that's a good idea in theory, but not in practice.

As it is, prosecutors vociferously oppose revisiting old cases because they're worried about an exoneration making them "look bad" or, horrors of horrors, it might open them up to an ethics complaint. Now imagine how prosecutors would react to revisiting old cases if they could face jail time for a wrongful conviction.
Posted by keshmeshi on March 12, 2014 at 7:11 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 23

In the end, I'd rather have as many exonerations as we can get under our current, broken system than risk getting no exonerations because prosecutors and judges are afraid of going to jail. Ideally, they wouldn't act unethically in the first place out of fear of going to jail, but unfortunately I think that expectation is unrealistic.
Posted by keshmeshi on March 12, 2014 at 7:13 PM · Report this
juche 24

The 'sweeping generalization' you speak of was not written by me, it was written by the stranger when they describe their readership to potential advertisers.…
Posted by juche on March 13, 2014 at 2:11 PM · Report this
juche 25
@21 see #24
Posted by juche on March 13, 2014 at 2:43 PM · Report this

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