Victory at the United States Supreme Court for Jabari Williams

On June 20th, PJI earned a victory at the U.S. Supreme Court for their client, Jabari Williams, who was wrongfully convicted of second-degree murder in New Orleans in 2012 following a trial marred with error.

In reversing the decisions below, the Supreme Court took particular concern with the Louisiana courts' treatment of Mr. Williams's claim that the Orleans Parish District Attorney had discriminated on the basis of race in selecting the jury, sending a strong reminder that "a Louisiana court, like any other state or federal court, is bound by this Court's interpretation of federal law."

Unfortunately, Mr. WIlliams' case is just the latest instance--following their recent decisions in Smith v. Cain and Wearry v. Cain--in which the U.S. Supreme Court has been forced to intervene to remedy Louisiana courts' indifference to indigent persons' rights. But the Court's decision on Monday is nevertheless an important victory for Mr. Williams and criminal defendants everywhere, who should never stand trial before a jury selected in a racially discriminatory manner.

Congratulations to Mr. Williams!


The Corey Williams Story- When the State Fails to Protect Minors with Disabilities

Read more about Corey’s story in this recent write-up in The Shreveport Times, where his attorney, Blythe Taplin had this to say:

"For an intellectually disabled, innocent, teenager to be removed from death row and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole, it isn’t a victory — it’s a tragedy every day that Corey remains in prison. This state was supposed to protect kids like Corey. Given what we know now, it’s clear that we failed him."

Read the Innocence Project's Amicus brief below. 

Download this file (IPNO Amicus Brief.pdf)IPNO Amicus Brief.pdf

UPDATE - Evidentiary Hearing in Heat Case

PJI attorneys and co-counsel returned to court for an evidentiary hearing in our ongoing excessive heat litigation on June 15, 2016.  The evidentiary hearing, before Chief Judge Brian A. Jackson in the Middle District of Louisiana, centered on whether the remedial measures the prison has offered to date are sufficient to remedy the Eighth Amendment violation to which our clients are subjected throughout the summer.  

The remedial measures – consisting of additional access to ice, fans, and cool showers – do nothing to lower the temperature and humidity on the tiers where death row prisoners reside.  This is why PJI has asked the court to order a remedy that actually addresses the root of the problem: dangerously extreme heat.  

The prison itself has agreed that air conditioning is the only way to bring down the dangerous heat index levels on the tiers.  Both sides will submit additional briefing to the court in July and we will thereafter await the court’s decision.

Angola's Heat Remediation Plan Fails to Keep Heat Index Below 88 Degrees

May 20, 2016 --

PJI attorneys and co-counsel appeared before the federal district court in our ongoing litigation around the excessive heat at Angola’s death row.  Because the prison’s heat remediation plan has conclusively failed to maintain a heat index below 88 degrees, attorneys for the three plaintiff prisoners are asking the court to order a more substantial remedy that will actually correct the problem of extreme heat.  The Associated Press attended the hearing and offered this account:

JR Ball, a Times-Picayune Op-Ed writer commented on the case here by saying: 

"A federal judge has ruled prison officials must keep the heat index on death row from exceeding 88 degrees. Is it really worth hemorrhaging taxpayer cash to fight the notion that those on death row don't deserve AC? Especially when it's regularly proven by mandatory heat sensors at the prison that fans, ice and cold showers aren't doing the trick."