Ball v. Leblanc

In late July, Promise of Justice Initiative attorneys and co-counsel petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for rehearing in the death row excessive heat case Ball v. Leblanc.  

The petitions detail crucial misapprehensions and errors in the majority opinion that the Court issued in early July, including with regard to expert testimony and the extent of relief available to prisoners.  The petitions also explain why the district court’s originally ordered relief – implementing a plan that the prison officials developed themselves – was appropriate.  The petitions seek rehearing both by the panel that originally heard the case and by the full Fifth Circuit en banc.

PJI Signs on to Amicus Brief Compelling Sheriff to Comply with 2011 Ordinance

PJI signs on to amicus brief authored by The Louisiana Community Law Office, joined by The Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition, The Justice and Accountability Center of Louisiana, The Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy, Women With a Vision, The MICAH Project, and V.O.T.E in support of the city’s effort to compel the Sheriff to retrofit Phase II of the new Jail facility in compliance with the 2011 ordinance, instead of creating more jail beds and spending even more money. 

Conditions on Louisiana's Death Row Violate the U.S. Constitution’s Ban on Cruel and Unusual Punishment

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has confirmed that the conditions on Louisiana's death row violate the U.S. Constitution’s ban on Cruel and Unusual Punishment.  

The court issued the opinion in Ball et al. v. LeBlanc et al. on July 8, 2015.  The opinion, authored by Circuit Judge Edith Jones, upholds the district court’s finding that the extreme heat on death row – where the heat index regularly exceeds 100 degrees for hours or days on end – violates the plaintiffs’ 8th Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment because the heat conditions subject the plaintiffs to a substantial risk of serious harm. 

Read more: Conditions on Louisiana's Death Row Violate the U.S. Constitution’s Ban on Cruel and Unusual...

PJI Submits Complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division

Update: PJI filed this Complaint on January 30, 2015.  As of June 24, 2015 – 145 days later – we have not received a response.

On January 30, 2015, the Promise of Justice Initiative submitted a Complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, regarding discriminatory actions of the Caddo Parish prosecutorial and judicial authorities in their treatment of Lamondre Tucker, a young African-American capital defendant in Shreveport, as well as the corollary treatment of prospective African-American jurors in Caddo Parish.  

The Complaint focuses on the display of the Confederate flag on courthouse grounds between Mr. Tucker’s indictment in 2008 until his capital sentencing in 2011.  Mr. Tucker was the last of 22 African-American men sentenced to death in Caddo Parish while the flag flew on the courthouse lawn.  This display, the Complaint urges, suffused the proceedings with an atmosphere of at least the legacy of white supremacy, if not the continued assertion of white supremacy – affecting both Mr. Tucker himself and the ability of African-American members of the community to serve as jurors in a capital trial.  Mr. Tucker’s counsel repeatedly objected to the flag’s influence, stating that it “can only serve to interpose racial considerations – to both intimidate African-American jurors and to prime white jurors to impose the death penalty – in this case. The Flag’s placement outside the Courthouse serves to remind African-American jurors of a regime in which lynchings and enslavement of African Americans was permitted under law.”  

Read the complaint here to learn more, including how jurors felt about the flag and what social science research can tell us about its influence.

Download this file (2015.01.30 Tucker DOJ Full Submitted Complaint.pdf)Tucker DOJ Complaint