The following Appeal Briefs have been filed in the Louisiana Supreme Court for Rodricus Crawford, Lamondre Tucker, and Marcus Reed.
Notably, each brief arose from capital convictions and death sentences imposed in Caddo Parish.
Brief of Louisiana Religious Leaders
More than 100 religious leaders, including Archbishop Aymond, have signed an amicus brief objecting to Dale Cox's sacrilegious argument to the jury in Rodricus Crawford's case that Jesus Christ commanded the death penalty for the killing of a child. The leaders, which hail from many different faiths, argue that Cox misquoted and misinterpreted scripture and misled the jury into thinking Jesus favored the death penalty for Crawford. Yesterday, the brief was filed at the Louisiana Supreme Court. Interfaith leaders held a prayer circle on the steps of the Louisiana Supreme court asking for peace and justice.
The religious leaders who signed on to the brief come from all faiths and all regions of Louisiana. They are Louisiana ministers, sisters, priests, deacons, rabbis and other ordained clergy and religious people and organizations who oppose the imposition of the death penalty in this case. They asked the Louisiana Supreme Court to throw out the death sentence imposed upon of Rodricus Crawford because the prosecutor misquoted and misinterpreted the Bible while advocating for the death penalty.
The Brief observes that the trial prosecutor, attorney Dale Cox, said Jesus would want the jury to vote for death. "Woe be unto you, who would harm on of these. Now, this is the Jesus Christ of the New Testament. It would be better if though you were never born. You shall have a millstone cast around your neck and you will be thrown into the sea.... the thing about Christ is in both cases, He reached a just verdict which is what the law asks you to reach in this case: a just verdict. Not the mean Christ, not the nice Christ, but the just Christ. And that's why I think that we should not lightly disregard His words when He talks about what He would do to someone who hurt one of these...what He would do."
The religious leaders advised the Louisiana Supreme Court that this was a misinterpretation of the Bible in religious terms and a legal problem which forces the court to get into the individual religious beliefs of prosecutors, judges, and juries.
Brief of Innocence Network
The Innocence Network filed an Amicus Brief on behalf of Rodricus Crawford, noting that medical evidence indicated that the victim – Mr. Crawford’s son – died from septic shock associated with pneumonia rather than as a result of a homicide. The Amicus Brief notes that Crawford’s conviction and death sentence is paradigmatic of wrongful convictions based upon faulty science.
For more about Crawford’s case see . See Rachel Aviv, "Revenge Killing: Race and the death penalty in a Louisiana Parish,"The New Yorker, July 6, 2015.
The Innocence Network, the leading national advocate for the wrongfully convicted, has filed an amicus brief in the case of Rodricus Crawford, asserting that the victim’s death resulted not from suffocation, but from a fatal illness. The Innocence Network explains that the prosecution’s evidence was based on biased witnesses and junk science. In fact, the well-established medical literature strongly indicates that the victim died of sepsis as caused by pneumonia, and that simple tests could have proven that at trial. The Innocence Network urges the Supreme Court to reverse Mr. Crawford’s conviction and death sentence.
August 9, 2015
To the Editor:
The video and accompanying print piece from Jeffrey Goldberg and colleagues regarding Angola prison are striking not only for their flattering portrayal of Warden Burl Cain, but also – more troublingly – for their take on the thousands of men in custody there. Mr. Goldberg seems to credit the “remarkable” Warden Cain singularly for the fact that many of the men at Angola now possess what Mr. Goldberg considers “morality.”
If Mr. Goldberg had paused to consider, as only one example, the brutal regime of solitary confinement to which he makes only a passing mention (notably at Angola’s Camp J, where dozens of prisoners live in squalor and are ruled by abject terror), he might have observed that it is not Cain but the men incarcerated at Angola who are remarkable. They are a testament to the loss of humanity that occurs as a result of our social experiment in mass incarceration – more acute in Louisiana than anywhere. The ability of a band of men to persevere in a place governed by hostility to their humanity is what is remarkable.
To paint these remarkable men as incapable of knowing right from wrong but for the guiding hand of Warden Cain belies a serious lack of understanding people in prison. The attitude smacks of prejudgment as to some sort of intrinsic criminality, and fails to contend with the significant social forces in Louisiana that drive crime and punishment.
We are glad that Mr. Goldberg comes to the conclusion that life without parole is an unfair and excessive sentence. But he and his readers might consider that the prisoners at Angola were, perhaps, never categorically amoral to begin with.