Last week, I wrote about this case here at The Atlantic because I felt it comprised so many of the failings of the American justice system. A black man whose trial is marked by racial animus. A defendant whose attorney does unconscionable work. A lack of physical evidence or adequate investigation. Co-defendants and state witnesses with obvious incentives to lie. Punishment that was both cruel and unusual. Deliberate indifference on the part of reviewing courts. It all happened to Herman Wallace. All of it and more; his case was a disgrace from the beginning.
Here is the link to Judge Jackson's order. If you read it, you will discover that he did not focus upon any of these constitutional infirmities in granting Wallace the relief he sought. Instead, Judge Jackson held that the original indictment against Wallace, over 40 years ago, was constitutionally flawed because women were excluded from his grand jury. So you can add "equal protection violation" to the heap of ways in which Wallace's rights were denied by our courts for four decades. Here is what the judge wrote:
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.... Our Constitution requires this result even where, as here, it means overturning Mr. Wallace's conviction nearly forty years after it was entered.In the hours after the ruling was made public, state lawyers rushed to object to the judge's ruling, arguing that Wallace, who is dying of liver cancer and may have only days to live, did not deserve to be allowed to be freed on bail while Louisiana decides whether to retry him or not. The conduct of these officials on this day is nothing if not consistent with Louisiana's treatment of this man throughout his entire adult life -- cruel and unusual to the bitter end.
At long last, Herman Wallace should be allowed to die in peace, and in freedom, as far away from that dreaded prison as his breath will take him. Let his miserable life and his early death become a symbol for all that is wrong about what America accepts today in its justice systems. Let it be a lesson, too, about perseverance and the ceaseless value of redemption. For decades, while he sat alone in that tiny, fetid cell, justice delayed to Wallace was justice denied to him. But today, while he is still alive to savor it, the law has turned away from injustice.
It is the first day of the rest of Herman Wallace's life -- and I sure hope it is not too late for him to enjoy it.
UPDATE: Immediately after Judge Jackson's initial order, attorneys with the East Baton Rouge district attorney's office filed a request to halt Wallace's release. This evening, Judge Jackson promptly rejected the request, again ordered the prisoner's immediate release, and warned prosecutors that they would be held in contempt if they refused to allow him to leave prison. Here is the link to that second order. Prosecutors have the right to appeal this ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals." [Source]
Hi fives all around for Judge Jackson. Not so much for authorities in the state of Louisiana.
I bet that "celebrity couple" who got a dose of reality from "post racial" America
"Actors Cherie Johnson and Dennis White are speaking out about the way they were treated by a Marion County sheriff’s deputy when they were stopped on their way to Myrtle Beach. Johnson, best known for her roles in the television shows “Punky Brewster” and “Family Matters,” and her boyfriend, White, who was in the movie “Notorious,” said they were initially stopped and ticketed for speeding. A short time later, they pulled over to take pictures on the side of the road when they say another police officer pulled up behind their parked car.
'Cherie, she was like, ‘I’m just taking a picture,’ and put her hands up, and he grabbed for his gun and said, ‘Get in the car,'’’ White told TODAY’s Maria Schiavocampo on Wednesday.
'At that point, I was kind of like, ‘Whoa,’’’ Johnson told Schiavocampo.
The officer questioned them, asking them to step out of the car, and then initially claimed there was a warrant out for Johnson’s arrest, according to the couple.
'I said, ‘Sir are you doing this because we're black?’’’ Johnson said. 'He kind of just patted the car, gave me a look, and walked to his car. The next thing I knew, he was putting on his gloves, and he was handcuffing Dennis. I couldn’t understand why he was handcuffing. We didn’t do anything wrong.'
The couple claim the officer then accused them of having drugs in the car.
'I said, ‘Well, what was your probable cause?’ Johnson said. 'Why do you feel that you need to search the car?' He told me there could be a dead body in the trunk. That was the only probable cause he gave.'
The officer let them go after searching the car and finding nothing, and also later said there was no warrant out for Johnson’s arrest, according to the couple. The Marion County sheriff’s office released a statement saying racial profiling is “strictly prohibited” and that it “will take immediate and appropriate action” to investigate the allegations. It also is asking the state law enforcement division to review the allegations.
'I was praying,' Johnson told TODAY. 'I just wanted to call my mom. I was scared for our lives.'
'I just felt like there was nothing that we could’ve done to prevent that situation,' White added. " [Source]
Dennis, you could have stayed out of South Carolina.
The irony is that he has a story of the Big R acting up and he cannot get FOX News or the Washington Post to report about it.
Here is the story in a nutshell:
"Father Lawrence Lucas, a controversial black priest, says that Kevin Merida, the first black managing editor of the Washington Post, is a "house boy" for the power structure and "slave to money" because he refuses to report that his own paper is being sued for race discrimination by a longtime black advertisement department employee who was fired by his white boss just days after she shrieked at him for no apparent reason.
The lawsuit was first reported by Washington Gadfly Evan Gahr.
In an interview, Lucas, longtime pastor of a Harlem church, made the same comments about New York Times managing editor Dean Baquet, the second black man to hold that post at the no longer paper of record. Baquet has known about the story for almost three weeks.
"I’ll be damned. It’s awful," Lucas says. "Not every black face have the black community at heart rather than where the money’s are coming from. They’re slaves to the money and they don’t want to get the money baggers upset. These guys are not going to stick their not out. They are only thinking a bout their necks. It’s like expecting one cop to tell the truth about the other one."
Lucas said that the "money baggers" are advertisers who might be offended if the paper does the story. "
And this is what he wrote me:
"I sent the my story about the Washington Post being sued for race discrimination to O'Reilly's senior producer and two producers for Hannity. Given how both Hannity and O'Reilly love to humiliate the Washington Post I thought they would jump on it.
But neither used it.
But neither used it.
Like I told you on the phone, conservatives refuse to do this story because they don't want to admit there is still race discrimination in this country. Liberals won't touch it because they don't want to embarrass their friends at the Washington Post."
I actually agree with him.
Evan, please keep us updated.