NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A 71-year-old Louisiana prisoner who spent 41 years in solitary confinement and is now dying of cancer was ordered released Tuesday by a federal judge who also ordered a new trial because women were unconstitutionally excluded from the grand jury that indicted the man in a prison guard’s slaying.
U.S. District Chief Judge Brian Jackson in Baton Rouge overturned Herman Wallace’s 1974 murder conviction in the death of Angola guard Brent Miller.
“The record in this case makes clear that Mr. Wallace’s grand jury was improperly chosen in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of `the equal protection of the laws’ … and that the Louisiana courts, when presented with the opportunity to correct this error, failed to do so,” Jackson wrote.
He added, “Our Constitution requires this result even where, as here, it means overturning Mr. Wallace’s conviction nearly forty years after it was entered.”
A lawyer for Wallace said the decision gives his client “some measure of justice after a lifetime of injustice,” but his response was tempered by the grim outlook for Wallace’s health.
“He’s pleased,” Kendall said of Wallace’s reaction after hearing of Tuesday’s ruling, “but he’s quite ill.”
See Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now report below: