Albert Woodfox’s Hour in the 5th: A reportback on the Jan. 7 oral arguments
For those who were unable to attend, Albert’s oral argument in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, defending Judge Brady’s decision to overturn his conviction for a third time, is now complete (click here to listen). As expected, the proceedings were brief and rather mystifying. It was clear that most of the judges had already spent a great deal of time reviewing and considering the case, and were just tying up a few arcane legal loose ends.
The State’s Attorney General Buddy Caldwell watched carefully as his team urged the Court to reverse Judge Brady’s decision and reinstate Albert’s conviction based on their now overruled version of the statistical story, and a misplaced deference to the broad powers given by the AEDPA. As you may recall, the AEDPA is a federal law used as the primary reason for reinstating Albert’s conviction in 2010. It allows Federal Courts to defer judgment to previous Louisiana rulings against Albert if those rulings were not “unreasonable” or “contrary to clearly established federal law” – an insidiously squishy standard.
Albert’s supporters filled the courtroom completely and his legal team deftly rebutted the State’s claims and fielded a handful of questions from the 3-judge panel, which included Judges Jolly and Higginbotham (both Reagan appointees), and Judge Southwick (a George W. Bush appointee). Judge Jolly was tied up in transit so participated only by phone and did not ask any questions of either side.
A decision is expected in coming months. Although it took the 5th Circuit almost a year and a half to rule last time, we are more confident than ever that a swift decision will soon come in Albert’s favor, finally releasing this innocent man from the solitary cell he was unjustly relegated to now nearly 42 long years ago.
With hope for freedom.
Photo by bloomsberries released under a Creative Commons No Derivatives license.