Death row exonoree, John Thompson, held a press conference yesterday at Resurrection After Exoneration to announce the filing of his complaint calling for a federal investigation of Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office, starting with former ADA Jim Williams.
The petition, filed with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, demands an investigation of “individual and systemic abuses of prosecutorial power in Orleans Parish” in light of the office’s “disturbing pattern of lawlessness, corruption, and prosecutorial misconduct”.
PJI Deputy Director, Mercedes Montagnes, PJI Board Member and Loyola Law School Professor, Andrea Armstrong, and Orleans Parish Chief District Defender, Derwyn Bunton, accompanied John Thompson in person at the press conference. New Orleans Innocence Project Director, Emily Maw, Skyped in to speak on the disproportionally high rate of wrongful convictions out of New Orleans.
John Thompson explained how lucky he felt to have been on death row because it meant he was afforded an attorney to continue working on his case until his innocence was uncovered. He claimed there are hundreds of others just like him rotting away in Louisiana prisons who have no one looking into their cases. Mercedes Montagnes spoke about the irony of John Thompson’s gratitude for being sentenced to death given the difficult conditions of being housed in solitary conferment and having limited contact with family members. Having endured these isolating conditions, and surviving seven execution warrants, John Thompson considers himself a victim of attempted murder. John Thompson feels that he has no recourse to obtain justice for the crimes committed against him. He is hopeful that the DOJ will step in to create an accountability structure for the Orleans prosecutor’s office.