Best Defense

A prosecutor apologizes to innocent man he put in a Louisiana prison for 31 years

This is a bit far afield from defense issues, but I found it fascinating. It is a good reminder that what we believe today can change — and in fact may be wildly wrong.

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This is a bit far afield from defense issues, but I found it fascinating. It is a good reminder that what we believe today can change — and in fact may be wildly wrong.

From a recent letter to the editor of the Shreveport Times in Louisiana:

In 1984, I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning. To borrow a phrase from Al Pacino in the movie “And Justice for All,” “Winning became everything.”

After the death verdict in the Ford trial, I went out with others and celebrated with a few rounds of drinks. That’s sick. I had been entrusted with the duty to seek the death of a fellow human being, a very solemn task that certainly did not warrant any “celebration.”

In my rebuttal argument during the penalty phase of the trial, I mocked Mr. Ford, stating that this man wanted to stay alive so he could be given the opportunity to prove his innocence. I continued by saying this should be an affront to each of you jurors, for he showed no remorse, only contempt for your verdict.

How totally wrong was I.

I speak only for me and no one else. I apologize to Glenn Ford for all the misery I have caused him and his family.

I apologize to the family of Mr. Rozeman for giving them the false hope of some closure.

I apologize to the members of the jury for not having all of the story that should have been disclosed to them.

I apologize to the court in not having been more diligent in my duty to ensure that proper disclosures of any exculpatory evidence had been provided to the defense.

…I end with the hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford. But, I am also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it.

Lee Honeycut/Wikimedia Commons 

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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