On Friday, Feb. 6, Albert Woodfox’s legal team submitted an application to US District Court Judge James A. Brady for release on bail with expedited review (View the court filing here).
This month marks 2 years since Albert’s conviction was overturned for a third time based on a finding of racial discrimination in the selection of his grand jury foreperson, a decision now firmly upheld by a unanimous panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Though the Attorney General may continue to stand in the way of justice and appeal yet again to the US Supreme Court and/or attempt to retry him, Albert’s attorneys argue that there is no legal or moral justification to hold him in prison any longer, nor any reason to believe the State of Louisiana could succeed in reconvicting him in a fair proceeding.
In a moving petition, they detail not just the legal underpinnings of freeing those wrongfully convicted, but also the deeply flawed legal processes that have resulted in this innocent man spending an unconscionable 4 decades in a solitary cell. As they point out, “the State has now had not just one but two chances to convict Mr. Woodfox at a trial that passes constitutional muster, and failed.”
The application reminds the Court that the State itself during the appeals process admitted that if Albert were to prevail “re-trying him for a crime that occurred more than 40 years ago…may render retrial difficult, even impossible.”
But regardless of whether the State elects to retry Albert or not, as another federal district court concluded, “[T]he liberty interest of an improperly convicted prisoner is stronger than any injury that may be caused to the [State] in releasing petitioner from custody pending retrial.”). Indeed, a prisoner, “suffers irreparable harm each day that he is imprisoned in violation of the United States Constitution.”
Certainly the reality of Albert’s grossly inhumane conditions of confinement only make this harm more egregious and the urgency for release more compelling.
An expedited hearing date of Monday, February 23rd has been requested. We will let you know as soon as we hear anything from the Court.