Posts Tagged ‘Innocence Project New Orleans’


Today in Wrongful Conviction History: December 14th

Alejandra de la Fuente — December 14, 2016 @ 11:11 AM — Comments (1)

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Today is the exoneration anniversary of Philip Bivens, Larry Ruffin, and Bobby Ray Dixon.

In 1979, all three men were wrongfully convicted of the rape and murder of a woman in Forrest County, Mississippi. All three gave confessions to the police under the threat of the death penalty. Despite the inconsistencies in their confessions with each other and with the evidence in the case, they were sentenced to life in prison.

In 2010, the Innocence Project New Orleans and co-counsel Rob McDuff obtained DNA testing that effectively excluded all three of the men convicted and instead pointed towards a different man altogether.

Sadly, Ruffin died in prison in 2002 and Dixon passed away from lung cancer in November of 2010. Neither got to witness their official exoneration on December 14th, 2010 when a Forrest Count Grand Jury declined to indict the three men.

In January of 2013, a federal wrongful conviction lawsuit was filed against the Forrest County law enforcement officials for coercing the three men’s confessions. Although Bivens passed away in 2014, the state agreed to pay $500,000 to the estate of Ruffin and $375,000 each to the estates of Bivens and Dixon in 2015. Earlier this year, Forrest County has settled the federal lawsuit for a total of $16.5 million.

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: June 25

Kate Mathis — June 25, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Happy exoneration anniversary Nathan Brown and Quentin Carter!

Nathan was exonerated in Louisiana in 2014 with help from the Innocence Project and the Innocence Project New Orleans.

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Quentin was exonerated in Michigan last year.

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: June 24

Kate Mathis — June 24, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Several exonerees celebrate their exoneration anniversaries today.

Verneal Jimerson was exonerated in Illinois in 1996 with help from the Innocence Project.

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Gregory Bright and Earl Truvia were convicted of the same crime and were exonerated in Louisiana in 2003 with help from the Innocence Project New Orleans.

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Uriah Courtney was exonerated in California in 2013 with help from the California Innocence Project.

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Lewis Gardner and Paul Phillips were convicted of the same crime, along with two other people, and were exonerated in Illinois in 2014.

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Happy exoneration anniversary Verneal, Gregory, Earl, Uriah, Lewis, and Paul!

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: June 14

Kate Mathis — June 14, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Happy exoneration anniversary Dan Bright and David Munchinski!

Dan was exonerated in Louisiana in 2004 with help from the Innocence Project New Orleans.

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David was exonerated in Pennsylvania in 2013 with help from the Innocence Institute at Park Point University.

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Original Witness Testimonies that were Later Recanted will be Admissible in Murder Retrial

Kate Mathis — April 16, 2016 @ 8:48 AM — Comments (0)

A Criminal District Court Judge ruled on Monday, April 4, that trial transcripts from Jerome Morgan’s first murder trial would be admissible during his new trial next month. Morgan has served 20 years in Angola prison for the 1993 murder of a 17-year-old boy. He maintains his innocence of the crime in which Clarence Landry III was killed during a birthday party at a New Orleans East hotel.

The transcripts include the testimony of Hakim Shabazz and Kevin Johnson, who were teenagers at the time of Morgan’s conviction. Both men recanted in October 2013 during a post-conviction hearing, however, and the recantations will also be permitted during the retrial. Shabazz and Johnson testified that police and others pressured and coerced them into identifying Morgan as Landry’s killer.

In an Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office bill of information, the witnesses were charged with perjury in January 2015 for their “inconsistent statements.” They are scheduled to appear in court on May 18, facing up to 40 years in prison, each. For fear of incriminating themselves in the perjury cases, neither Shabazz nor Johnson is expected to testify during Morgan’s retrial.

The Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO), which has been working on Morgan’s case since 2010, helped overturn his conviction in January 2014. The defense team argued that Shabazz and Johnson’s 1994 testimony should be excluded from the retrial because they are unavailable to testify due to the perjury charges. In their motion, the defense attorneys argued that the prosecution would benefit from the witnesses being unavailable, and therefore have motive to prevent them from testifying. They also wrote that Morgan would not be implicated and that the state would have no case against him because Shabazz and Johnson would testify consistent with their recantations. Following the judge’s decision to admit the original testimonies, the director of IPNO, Emily Maw, stated that Morgan should not be in this position, and that it is a shame the courts, which have the power to stop what she called a frivolous prosecution, have not taken such actions.

Assistant district attorneys filed a state response, placing blame on IPNO attorneys, who they argue ignored legal ramifications regarding Shabazz and Johnson because they were so adamant about achieving favorable testimony for Morgan. The prosecutors wrote that IPNO should have advised the witnesses to consult with independent counsel but neglected to do so, and are now trying to hold the state responsible for their unavailability.

In a counter-response to the state, the Morgan’s attorneys claimed that they had arranged for an attorney to counsel Shabazz and Johnson prior to their post-conviction testimony. They also argued that a simple solution, one that the state did not address in its response, would be for the district attorney’s office to grant immunity for any new testimony from the witnesses during Morgan’s retrial. The defense team wrote that the district attorney should take the honorable path and stop trying to send Morgan, Shabazz, and Johnson to prison, but unfortunately chose not to take that course.

Morgan’s retrial is scheduled for May 2.

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: April 13

Kate Mathis — April 13, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Happy exoneration anniversary Kia Stewart!

Kia was exonerated in Louisiana last year with help from the Innocence Project New Orleans.

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(We love this photo of Kia with out IPNO colleague Emily Maw!)

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: March 6

Kate Mathis — March 06, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Happy exoneration anniversary Cedric Willis, Samuel Lawson, and Cathy Woods!

Cedric was exonerated in Mississippi in 2006 with help from the Innocence Project New Orleans.

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Samuel was exonerated in Oregon in 2014.

Cathy was exonerated in Nevada last year with help from the Rocky Mountain Innocence Project.

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: March 1

Kate Mathis — March 01, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Happy exoneration anniversary Jimmie Bass!

Jimmie was exonerated in Mississippi in 2010 with help from the Innocence Project New Orleans.

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: January 31

Kate Mathis — January 31, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Happy exoneration anniversary Colin Warner and Dennis Brown!

Colin was exonerated in New York in 2001.

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Dennis was exonerated in Louisiana in 2005 with help from the Innocence Project New Orleans.

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: January 19

Kate Mathis — January 19, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Over the weekend, we celebrated a bunch of exoneration anniversaries.

Cecilia Guevara and Victoria Gauthier celebrated their exoneration anniversaries on the 15th.  Both women were exonerated in Texas last year. Happy belated exoneration anniversary, Cecilia and Victoria!

Several exonerees celebrated their exoneration anniversaries on the 17th.

Vincent Thames, Terrill Swift, Harold Richardson, and Michael Saunders, who were all convicted for the same crime, were exonerated in Illinois in 2012. Vincent was represented by the Valorem Law Group, Terrill was represented by the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, Harold was represented by the Exoneration Project of the University of Chicago Law School, and Michael was represented by the Innocence Project.

Happy belated exoneration anniversary, gentlemen!

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Charles Wilhite was also exonerated on the 17th in Massachusetts in 2013.  Happy belated exoneration anniversary, Charles!

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George Allen, Jr. was exonerated in Missouri on January 18, 2013 with help from the Innocence Project. Happy belated exoneration anniversary, George!

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Travis Hayes was exonerated in Louisiana on January 19, 2007 with help from the Innocence Project – New Orleans. Happy exoneration anniversary, Travis!

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