COALITION TO FREE THE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Emma Mackinnon
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
202.302.6920 / email@example.com
Conviction Overturned, Judge Rules Albert Woodfox Must be Free During
Appeals or Re-trial
Lawyers: Ruling Brings Hope for Remaining Prisoner, Also Spent 36
Years in Solitary for Guard's Murder
Albert Woodfox, who has spent 37 years in prison at
Penitentiary, must be released on bail, according to a ruling issued
today by United States District Judge James Brady. On September 25th,
Judge Brady overturned Woodfox's conviction for the 1972 murder of
prison guard Brent Miller. Though the State has announced its
intention to appeal that decision, until such an appeal is successful,
according to today's ruling, there is no conviction on which to hold Woodfox.
In his decision, Judge Brady wrote:
"[Woodfox] is a frail, sickly, middle aged man who has had an
exemplary conduct record for over the last twenty years. At the
hearing before this Court on October 14, 2008, testimony was adduced
that if released Mr. Woodfox would live with his niece and her family
in a gated subdivision in
withdrawn that request because of fear of harm to his niece and her
family by members... This change was brought about by counsel
representing the State of
owners association and providing them with information regarding Mr.
Woodfox. The Court is not totally privy to what information was given
to the association but from the documents filed it is apparent that
the association was not told Mr. Woodfox is frail, sickly, and has had
a clean conduct record for more than twenty years…this Court GRANTS
Mr. Woodfox's motion for release pending the State's appeal."
Herman Wallace, who was also convicted in the murder, remains in
appeal. The two men were wrongly convicted based largely on the
testimony of a fellow prisoner, Hezekiah Brown, a serial rapist who
was promised and received a pardon in exchange for his testimony
against them. Brown was the sole professed eyewitness to the murder,
and none of the physical evidence put Herman or Albert at the crime scene.
Woodfox's legal team is now working with the court to reach an
agreement on a suitable release location and plan for Woodfox; once
they agree to a plan, Woodfox will be able to leave
lawyers anticipate the process to take several more days.
Woodfox and Wallace were each held in solitary confinement from the
time of the murder until last March, after a federal court concluded
that their suit alleging that such confinement for three decades
constitutes cruel and unusual punishment could go forward. A third
man, Robert King Wilkerson, was held in solitary at
time for a different crime; he was released in 2001 after showing that
he had been wrongfully convicted. The three are known as the "
3." All black men, they had been organizing nonviolently for an end
to gang-enforced sex slavery and for better conditions inside the
"This is a major victory in a case where justice is long overdue.
Albert went into
60s. There is no conviction against him now, and the state should not
take another day of his life," said Chris Aberle, Woodfox's lawyer.
"In 37 years, Albert never gave up hope that someday he would walk out
the gates of
soon. Neither of these men should have spent a day in
crime," said Nick Trenticosta, also a lawyer in the case.
The case has attracted attention on the state and national level.
Last spring, US House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers (D-MI)
visited the men, along with
Cedric Richmond (D-101).
hearings on the case, and Conyers continues to monitor developments.
The state had sought a stay of Judge Brady's ruling ordering a new
trial until the appeal process plays out. Judge Brady granted that
request. The State must now either win its appeals, or will need to
either release or retry Woodfox within 120 days of the end of its appeals.
Judge Brady held an initial bail hearing on October 14th; he postponed
issuing a decision at that time to allow for additional depositions to
be taken from
examined Woodfox and his medical records. The State has now conducted
both of those depositions.
For a copy of the judgment, to speak with the lawyers, or for any additional information on the case, please contact Emma Mackinnon, firstname.lastname@example.org or 202 302 6920.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs