[Ppnews] Louisiana attorney general asks 5th Circuit to reject New Angola 3 trial

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Mar 3 16:17:14 EST 2009



Louisiana attorney general asks U.S. 5th Circuit to reject inmate's 
bid for new trial

http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/03/attorney_general_asks_us_5th_c.html

by Laura Maggi, The Times-Picayune
Tuesday March 03, 2009, 2:00 PM

Arguing that Angola inmate Albert Woodfox received aggressive 
representation in a 1998 trial that ended with his conviction for 
killing a prison guard, a state lawyer today asked the U.S. 5th 
Circuit Court of Appeals to preserve his guilty verdict.

The 1998 trial was the second time Woodfox was prosecuted for killing 
correctional officer Brent Miller in 1972. Last fall, a federal judge 
in Baton Rouge found that his defense counsel in the retrial was 
ineffective, ordering the state to try Woodfox for the third time or 
drop the case.

The stabbing of Miller, a young guard, rocked the Louisiana State 
Penitentiary at a violent time for the infamous prison, when Woodfox 
and other inmates were organizing as members of the Black Panther 
party to put an end to rampant inmate rape and other horrific conditions.

Kyle Duncan, the head of Attorney General Buddy Caldwell's appellate 
division, argued before a three-judge panel that U.S. District Judge 
James Brady made the wrong decision. Woodfox received adequate 
representation, although his lawyers did not prevail in convincing 
the jury that Woodfox was framed by prison officials because of his 
activism as a member of the Black Panther party, Duncan said.

"They were effective," he said of Woodfox's two lawyers. "They were 
not successful."

Nicholas Trenticosta, a lawyer representing Woodfox, argued that his 
client's lawyers clearly were ineffective, as they didn't take 
obvious steps to knock holes in what he termed a "terrible case."

"This was not a strong case for the state of Louisiana at trial," 
Trenticosta said, arguing it was largely based on testimony by 
"questionable characters." Defense attorneys failed to adequately 
attack or question evidence against Woodfox, while also neglecting to 
present evidence to help establish his innocence, he said.

The arguments were heard by appellate Judges Carolyn Dineen King, 
Carl E. Steart and Leslie H. Southwick.

Woodfox is one of the "Angola 3" inmates, three prisoners placed for 
decades in solitary confinement. Supporters believe the three were 
targeted by prison officials for their activism and involvement in 
the Panther party.

Prison officials argued that both Woodfox and Herman Wallace were 
guilty of killing Miller and dealt with appropriately, kept in 
conditions that Caldwell argued cannot be termed "solitary confinement."

While the prisoners are kept in single cells, they are on tiers and 
have the ability to talk to other inmates, Caldwell said, noting they 
also have access to television.

Wallace's conviction is also on appeal, facing a review by the 
Louisiana Supreme Court.

Robert King Wilkerson, the third Angola 3 inmate, was released in 
2002 after spending 29 years on lockdown with Woodfox and Wallace. 
Also a member of the Panther party, Wilkerson was convicted of 
killing another inmate. After enduring years of appeals, he 
eventually agreed to a plea deal that freed him.




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