A prosecutor tells the truth

I honestly think this is why so many prosecutors drink heavily. After all, it goes against human nature to frame innocent people:

On Dec. 5, 1984, a black man from Louisiana named Glenn Ford was convicted of murder by an all-white jury in the shooting death of a jeweler, and sentenced to death.

About a year ago, Ford was exonerated after a district attorney in Caddo Parish discovered “credible evidence” that Ford was neither “present at, nor a participant in, the robbery and murder” of the jeweler. By that point he had served 30 years in prison. Now, the state of Louisiana is trying to deny Ford $330,000 in compensation for the freedom that was wrongfully taken away from him, on the basis that Ford can’t prove he was “factually innocent” of the crime. The state’s position has moved the lead prosecutor in Ford’s original case, Marty Stroud, to speak out about his role in sending an innocent man into “the hell hole” he endured until his name was cleared.

Stroud’s comments, which were published in the Shreveport Times, are extraordinary for their candor and gravity, and are worth reading in full. But the central takeaway is this extraordinary admission: “I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.”

In his letter, which was written in response to a Shreveport Times editorial and was published by the paper Friday, Stroud says that at the time of the trial, he believed he had the right man—and as a result, ignored leads he now believes he should have followed:

At the time this case was tried there was evidence that would have cleared Glenn Ford. The easy and convenient argument is that the prosecutors did not know of such evidence, thus they were absolved of any responsibility for the wrongful conviction. I can take no comfort in such an argument. As a prosecutor and officer of the court, I had the duty to prosecute fairly. While I could properly strike hard blows, ethically I could not strike foul ones.

He continues: “Had I been more inquisitive, perhaps the evidence would have come to light years ago. But I wasn’t, and my inaction contributed to the miscarriage of justice in this matter.”

Stroud, who was 33 at the time of Ford’s trial, also says he regrets “placing before the jury dubious testimony from a forensic pathologist,” whose testimony he now sees as “pure junk science at its evil worst,” and says he is sickened by the fact that he and his team went out to celebrate their win after the verdict.

5 thoughts on “A prosecutor tells the truth

  1. It is precisely because Stroud’s mea culpa is so extraordinary and the knee jerk response to the civil suit so much the norm, that I don’t trust prosecutors farther than I can throw them and almost always vote against them for elective office. Yeah Susie, this is not the nuanced response that your previous post counsels, but it comes from the hard edge of experience.

  2. We have a former prosecutor as mayor of our city of a million-plus.
    His truly evil predecessor was a land-use attorney.

    Maybe lawyers should be barred from public office?

  3. What really chaps me is these guys waiting 30 years to come out and admit their nefarious ethics. After people have spent a lifetime in prison. He hasn’t lost anything, while he’s cost untold numbers of innocent people everything. I’d show him the same ‘mercy’ he’s practiced during his career. I hope he goes to his grave wracked with guilt.

  4. I don’t vote for them either, although you know, sometimes the prosecutor IS an elected office. Not even if they are the Dems running against a repuke.

    I notice this guy puts most of the blame on poorly designed government (fair enough), but doesn’t put any blame on the legal profession, which (via the state bars) could surely do a whole lot more to make sure prosecutors and judges who run roughshod over rights and justice and truth and process lose their licenses to practice. If they wanted to.

    Also, he is goes pretty lightly on his own lack of conscience in fucking people over in his amibtion.

    Actually, if you look at how constrained the IRS is by congress, and the prohibitions against ROTER (results of tax enforcement actions) and all the things that can and do happen to employees who do things they aren’t allowed to do, you will understand that it is entirely within the ability of congress and the states to prevent all these abuses we see (like asset forfeitures and the Rahm/Ferguson shake down scams version of the war on the poor, etc) can be prevented and punished. But somehow they act like it is just too impossible to implement those laws and policies on the rest of government that spies on us illegally, lies to us, abuses out property, injures us and kills us with just a slap on the wrist (to the goverment if a jury makes an award, the actual killers and maimers go scott free).
    Not saying the constraints on the IRS need to be lessened, just that a lot of those would be appropriate constraints for the rest of the law enforcement apparatus.

Comments are closed.