A Third Chance for Justice in State Court - The Critical Importance of Setting the Right Evidentiary and Procedural Scene for a Fair Retrial
Though it is an incredibly unusual, and often confusing situation, the legal reality is that Albert is fighting for permanent, unconditional release concurrently on two separate legal tracks - one in federal and the other in state court. As we all wait to hear whether the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold federal Judge Brady's June 8th "unconditional Writ," a third attempt to prosecute Albert in state court for the crime he continues to maintain he's innocent of is already, simultaneously, underway.
Next Monday, September 21st at 9:30am at the Courthouse in St. Francisville, the state court track will take a huge leap forward as Judge Carmichael of West Feliciana Parish's 20th Judicial District Court decides what a new playing field will look like after each side presents what they believe to be the key ingredients needed to ensure a just potential third trial.
Over the summer, Albert's state court legal team (Rob McDuff and Billy Sothern) filed a slate of 16 motions that began this process of defining the evidentiary and procedural ground rules for a potential retrial. In addition to a comprehensive and convincingly argued request for change of venue, the bulk of the filings seek to construct a legal landscape where Albert has at least a chance of being fairly retried--where all of the now impeached, debunked, and discredited testimony, statements, and evidence presented at previous trials is excluded.
Albert's team also asks the court compel the State to allow modern DNA testing of all remaining physical evidence and to compare the potentially exculpatory fingerprints from the crime scene, already proven not to be Albert's, against the prison's own inmate fingerprint archives from the 1970s and the FBI's recently expanded AFIS fingerprint identification system. Though it seems obvious that these simple tests could have long ago helped to identify the real culprit, the Attorney General told NPR as recently as 2008 he didn't see a need. "A fingerprint can come from anywhere," Caldwell explains. "We're not going to be fooled by that."
Most fundamentally though, Albert's legal team argues that the 2015 indictment should itself be quashed and the case dismissed because all the key prosecution witnesses have passed away, as have all the key witnesses for the defense and the leaders of the initial investigation, making it impossible for Albert to exercise his constitutional right to confront and cross-examine them about the many inconsistencies, obfuscations, and procedural missteps later uncovered. His attorneys conclude:
"Albert Woodfox is 68 years old, less than two years away from turning 70. He has been severely punished for the last 43 years for a crime in which none of the physical evidence implicates him and the State's proof is highly questionable. The circumstances of this case are such that he cannot receive a fair trial 43 years after the fact. The motion to quash should be granted and this case should be dismissed."
We will keep you updated as to how these issues play out if you are unable to attend on the 21st and won't stop fighting until justice for our friend is finally realized.
Albert Woodfox #72148
West Feliciana Parish Detention Center
PO Box 2727St. Francisville, LA 70775
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