This is a short report about Albert Woodfox’s second day in court for an evidentiary hearing, on Wednesday, May 30. Written by the International Coalition to Free the Angola Three.
Report from Albert Woodfox’s Evidentiary Hearing
–DAY TWO: Wednesday, May 30
Midday the State rested their case, and both sides requested that the judge rule that the other had not met their burden and end the proceedings then and there. To avoid another delay in the proceedings for him to consider these motions, Judge Brady instead asked Albert’s legal team to proceed with the presentation of their case for the record while everyone was already assembled and promised to decide the pending motions sometime later.
Albert’s first expert witness was Dr. Marx, a statistician with a mountain of unimpeachable credentials who very artfully and clearly explained the heart of why the State’s numbers don’t show discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson but Albert’s do. The different results stem from a fundamental disagreement about not just the methodology and methods, but the very population to be examined in the first place.
The baseline group the State is using to calculate whether there was discrimination in the selection of the grand jury by race is based on broad census numbers of eligible voters, minus illiterates, but without adjusting for any of the other many factors used to qualify and seat voters for jury duty. In contrast, Albert’s expert relied upon the actual numbers of people who were called and found willing and able to serve as jurors as his base data pool for analysis. He made a credible and compelling argument that this more exact, case specific base number provided the only accurate, reliable result and demonstrated a strong, statistically significant pattern of racial discrimination in the selection of the forepersons in West Feliciana during the time of Albert’s retrial that simply cannot be explained by chance.
Testimony continues tomorrow as the third and final day of Albert’s third bid for freedom continues.
MORE INFO ABOUT EVIDENTIARY HEARING:
Unlike the first and second time that Albert’s conviction was overturned based on judges who cited racial discrimination, prosecutorial misconduct, inadequate defense, and suppression of exculpatory evidence during his first trials for the 1972 murder of Brent Miller, this proceeding will seek to overturn based on apparent discrimination in the selection of a grand jury foreperson during his 1998 retrial.
The well known facts of the A3 case will not be debated; all that will be examined is whether or not people of color were discriminated against during the grand jury selection process. This means instead of murder mystery theatre, witnesses will mostly discuss compositions of the pool of grand jury forepersons in the Parish where Albert was indicted. Expert witnesses will discuss statistical analysis and methodology, the demographics of the community, and the sociological mechanics of how discrimination can play out in the criminal justice system. If successful, this claim could serve to overturn Albert’s conviction for a third time.
Judge James A. Brady, the same judge who overturned Albert’s conviction the second time in 2008, will preside. That ruling was ultimately reinstated on appeal by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals who cited AEDPA-gutted habeas protections that limit federal power that allowed them to defer judgment to Louisiana.
Although there are no time limits officially imposed by law, Brady is expected to rule before the end of 2012.