Herman Wallace: “The Muhammad Ali of the Justice System Passes On…”

hermanrelease2-300-DNFrom Angola 3 News:

This morning we lost without a doubt the biggest, bravest, and brashest personality in the political prisoner world.  It is with great sadness that we write with the news of Herman Wallace’s passing.

Herman never did anything half way.  He embraced his many quests and adventures in life with a tenacious gusto and fearless determination that will absolutely never be rivaled.  He was exceptionally loyal and loving to those he considered friends, and always went out of his way to stand up for those causes and individuals in need of a strong voice or fierce advocate, no matter the consequences.

Anyone lucky enough to have spent any time with Herman knows that his indomitable spirit will live on through his work and the example he left behind.  May each of us aspire to be as dedicated to something as Herman was to life, and to justice.

Below is a short obituary/press statement for those who didn’t know him well in case you wish to circulate something.  Tributes from those who were closest to Herman and more information on how to help preserve his legacy by keeping his struggle alive will soon follow.

——————

On October 4th, 2013, Herman Wallace, an icon of the modern prison reform movement and an innocent man, died a free man after spending an unimaginable 41 years in solitary confinement.

Herman spent the last four decades of his life fighting against all that is unjust in the criminal justice system, making international the inhuman plight that is long term solitary confinement, and struggling to prove that he was an innocent man.  Just 3 days before his passing, he succeeded, his conviction was overturned, and he was released to spend his final hours surrounded by loved ones.  Despite his brief moments of freedom, his case will now forever serve as a tragic example that justice delayed is justice denied.

Herman Wallace’s early life in New Orleans during the heyday of an unforgiving and unjust Jim Crow south often found him on the wrong side of the law and eventually he was sent to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola for armed robbery.  While there, he was introduced to the Black Panther’s powerful message of self determination and collective community action and quickly became one of its most persuasive and ardent practitioners.

Not long after he began to organize hunger and work strikes to protest the continued segregation, endemic corruption, and horrific abuse rampant at the prison, he and his fellow panther comrades Albert Woodfox and Robert King were charged with murders they did not commit and thrown in solitary.  Robert was released in 2001 after 29 years in solitary but Herman remained there for an unprecedented 41 years, and Albert is still in a 6×9 solitary cell.

Herman’s criminal case ended with his passing, but his legacy will live on through a civil lawsuit he filed jointly with Robert and Albert that seeks to define and abolish long term solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment, and through his comrade Albert Woodfox’s still active and promising bid for freedom from the wrongful conviction they both shared.

Herman was only 9 days shy of 72 years old.

Services will be held in New Orleans. The date and location will be forthcoming.

For more information visitwww.angola3.org andhttp://angola3news.blogspot.com/.

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BREAKING: HERMAN WALLACE HAS BEEN FREED!

Herman-7-2013

From Democracy Now:

Angola 3 member Herman Wallace has been released from prison in Louisiana after 42 years in solitary confinement. Supporters say he is en route to New Orleans to live out his days in hospice. Watch Democracy Now! for update on Wednesday when we will be joined by fellow freed Angola 3 member Robert King, and by Wallace’s defense attorney, George Kendall.

We received this statement from Wallace’s legal team:

“Tonight, Herman Wallace has left the walls of Louisiana prisons and will be able to receive the medical care that his advanced liver cancer requires. It took the order of a federal judge to address the clear constitutional violations present in Mr. Wallace’s 1974 trial and grant him relief. The state of Louisiana has had many opportunities to address this injustice and has repeatedly and utterly failed to do so.

“Mr. Wallace has been granted a new trial, but his illness is terminal and advanced. However, the unfathomable punishment of more than four decades which Mr. Wallace spent in solitary confinement conditions will be the subject of litigation which will continue even after Mr. Wallace passes away. It is Mr. Wallace’s hope that this litigation will help ensure that others, including his lifelong friend and fellow ‘Angola 3’ member, Albert Woodfox, do not continue to suffer such cruel and unusual confinement even after Mr. Wallace is gone.”

BREAKING: State appeals decision, refuses to release Herman Wallace; Judge denies appeal, issues second order to release, threatens state with contempt charges

Herman-BikeFrom Angola 3 News:

After this morning’s bombshell ruling by Judge Jackson overturning Herman’s conviction and ordering his immediate release, his legal team has spent the day trying to convince Louisiana officials to do as the Court requires and let him go free.

As some outlets have reported, an ambulance has been outside the prison all afternoon ready to transport him out of prison to supporter sponsored accommodations complete with hospice care, but the State stubbornly refused release and filed a motion to Stay.

Just moments ago, Judge Jackson issued an order (view the court document here) denying the State’s desperate attempt at keeping Herman behind bars, again ordered his release, and cautioned Louisiana officials that their failure to release him immediately would put them in Contempt of Court.

We will update you as soon as we hear any more news.

BREAKING: Federal judge orders release of Angola 3 prisoner Herman Wallace

herman_wallace-aloneFrom Democracy Now:

A federal judge has ordered the immediate release of Herman Wallace, a member of the so-called Angola 3, who was held in solitary confinement for more than 40 years. The judge ordered his release because women were excluded from the grand jury in his case four decades ago, and called for “the State immediately release Mr. Wallace from custody.” The decision comes as Wallace is dying of liver cancer. Wallace’s supporters say he has just days to live, but his requests for compassionate release has so far gone unanswered.

Wallace reportedly received the news today from his two fellow members of the Angola 3, Albert Woodfox and Robert King Wilkerson, who had a previously scheduled visit. His lawyers are working now to secure his release as soon as possible.

Herman Wallace’s legal team said today:

“With today’s ruling, at long last, Herman Wallace has been afforded some measure of justice after a lifetime of injustice. We ask that the Department of Corrections honor Judge Jackson’s order and immediately release Herman Wallace so that he can spend his final days as a free man.”

“In addition, litigation challenging Mr. Wallace’s unconstitutional confinement in solitary confinement for four decades will continue in his name. It is Mr. Wallace’s hope that this litigation will help ensure that others, including his lifelong friend and fellow ‘Angola 3’ member, Albert Woodfox, do not continue to suffer such cruel and unusual confinement even after Mr. Wallace is gone.”

DABC Note: According to the Louisiana DOC, Herman is still in detention. We don’t know when or if Herman will actually be freed. Once we get confirmation of his release, we will update this article to reflect that.

Angola 3: Herman Wallace, gravely ill, fights for compassionate release

From MSNBC:

Herman Wallace, one of the remaining two imprisoned members of the Angola 3, has been diagnosed with liver cancer. Wallace’s attorney believes it is time for him to be let out of solitary confinement and more importantly receive a compassionate release.

Attorney Nick Trenticosta detailed his client’s condition on Saturday’s Melissa Harris-Perry. “He’s lost about 55 pounds in four months, and he is being treated completely negligently. I would say he’s being killed through intentional neglect.”

Currently 71 years old, Wallace has been in solitary confinement for more than 41 years for his 1972 conviction in the murder of prison guard Brent Miller. It is a conviction that he and the other members of the Angola 3 have fought because they have maintained their innocence in the brutal stabbing.

Given his critical diagnosis, his lawyers and organizations like Amnesty International are pushing for a compassionate release.

Asked whether he thought there was any chance that Wallace would receive a compassionate release, Trenticosta’s response was telling. “I don’t think so, and part of the reason is the state of Louisiana in the past six years has spent $6 million dollars in lawyer fees to keep a 71-year-old man in solitary confinement.”

Story with video

Angola 3: Albert Woodfox has conviction overturned for a third time

albert,hermanFrom Angola 3 News:

Today, February 26, District Court Judge Brady released a 34-page ruling that granted habeas to Albert on the issue of racial discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson for his 1998 retrial. This decision now overturns Albert’s conviction for a third time.

In the 34-page ruling, Judge Brady reviews the arguments of both sides and concludes that Albert’s team used the correct baseline for comparison, and that using that baseline, the discrimination is statistically significant no matter which tests are used. It was the State’s burden in these proceedings to prove that there was a race neutral procedure in place for selecting forepersons. Judge Brady agreed with Albert that the State failed to do this.

Just as when Judge Brady overturned Albert’s conviction in 2008, the State is now expected to appeal today’s ruling to the 5th Circuit. Therefore, nothing is certain except that the legal team and A3 supporters will not stop fighting until this ruling is affirmed by the 5th Circuit and Albert is finally a free man.

This is an important victory, thanks in no small part to the efforts of our supporters!

As we learn more, we will post updates here, so please check back for more information about Albert’s case. For more background, this is our report from the evidentiary hearing that preceded today’s ruling.

(View/Download a PDF of Judge Brady’s ruling here.)

Angola 3: Report from second day of Albert Woodfox’s evidentiary hearing

From http://www.opednews.com/Diary/DAY-TWO-Albert-Woodfox-of-by-Angola-3-News-120531-277.html:

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.