There are only a few days remaining before Amnesty International ends their online action campaign urging Louisiana Attorney General James Caldwell to not appeal the February 25 ruling by US District Court Judge James Brady that overturned Albert Woodfox’s conviction. Because Caldwell has already said that he will appeal the ruling to the US Fifth Circuit Court, this public pressure is badly needed for Albert, who is now just weeks away from his 41st year in solitary confinement. If you have not yet done so, please take action here.
Robert H. King responds to Louisiana Attorney General James Caldwell
Many thanks to all of you who have aided our cause and added your voices to our quest to free Albert from an obviously unjust imprisonment of more than 40 years. Please continue to make your voices heard and your dissent known, especially in light of the recent email response by Louisiana’s Attorney General, James Caldwell. One wonders: Why in the face of so many mitigating facts and circumstances would the Attorney General persist in his unethical efforts to pursue the persecution of Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace? Is it really justice he seeks, or is there something else he wants? The following may add some light to the subject.
When Woodfox was first granted a new trial in 1993, the Attorney General’s Office elected to retry the case, which is a rare occurrence. Twenty-three years earlier, John Sinquefield, a young and ambitious local assistant district attorney, prosecuted Albert and made repeated references/inferences to Albert’s political beliefs and militancy. Having had prior involvement in this case, Sinquefield could not (or chose not to) prosecute in his second hearing. However, this recusion (or self restraint) did not apply to his assistants. Enter Julie Cullen, an attorney working with Sinquefield. It was Cullen who declared to the press, that she would retry Albert as “a ‘Black Panther.” During that trial in 1999,when I appeared as a character witness for Albert, Julie Cullen made repeated references to Woodfox’s militancy as Sinquefield had done before her and Woodfox was again convicted.
Sinquefield, Cullen and Caldwell were all previously connected to this case by the thread of time and they have all used this case to further their careers. Sinquefield and Caldwell are well-documented boyhood friends, who went to school together, graduated together and became lawyers together. In Sinquefield’s own words, “We’ve been friends, allies ever since.” Julie Cullen has worked with and been very close to both men. As you can see, their careers have been protected at all costs, even accusing innocent men of murder or rape, as Caldwell in his recent email has done once again.
Buddy Caldwell has long done a great disservice to people of intelligence, especially lawyers…and jurists, in his attempt to sell this malicious and unsubstantiated rape lie. If, in 1969 there had been actual evidence of Albert committing rape, why would the system instead choose to try Woodfox on only the lesser charge of robbery? According to Caldwell, Albert was considered “a career criminal.” The logical question therefore remains…If Albert had committed all of these other alleged crimes and was in fact a career criminal, why was he not prosecuted? Just for the record – any young black man that was arrested became a suspect for unsolved crimes. This was a process so widespread that across the country the practice is known as “clearing the books.”
It is in this same context that Caldwell has wrongfully accused Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace of committing the murder of prison guard Brent Miller. The evidence linking Herman and Albert to the crime is nonexistent. The bloody fingerprint at the scene of the crime did not match Herman or Albert’s. A knife found at the scene of the crime had no fingerprints on it at all. Other DNA evidence that allegedly had Albert’s specks of blood on it was lost by the prison. Furthermore, multiple alibi witnesses testified that Albert and Herman were in other parts of the prison at the time of the murder. In contrast, it has been proven that state witnesses were bribed to lie under oath. Albert’s conviction has now been overturned three times, and Herman’s conviction is similarly under Federal Court scrutiny for evidence exposing prosecutorial misconduct and constitutional violations.
Finally, by claiming that the Angola 3 have never been in solitary, Caldwell is redefining the nature of solitary confinement and minimizing its inhumane conditions. Courts here in the USA have already ruled that confining prisoners in cells 23 hours a day constitutes solitary confinement regardless of any small privileges that may or may not be incrementally given and taken away at random. Over a decade ago, we filed a civil lawsuit challenging the State of Louisiana for their unconstitutionally cruel and unusual treatment that is solitary confinement. Magistrate Judge Dalby describes our almost four decades of solitary as “durations so far beyond the pale” she could not find “anything even remotely comparable in the annals of American jurisprudence.” It is for the courts and not for Attorney General Caldwell to define whether or not being held in close cell restriction constitutes solitary confinement.
Attorney General Caldwell would do well to consider that I was prosecuted for being a “co-conspirator” by proxy for only knowing Albert and Herman and for my affiliation with the Black Panther Party. I had never met prison guard Brent Miller but I was put in solitary confinement and placed under investigation for this crime for 29 years. More to the point, had I not been 150 miles away at the time in another prison but at Angola prison, I would probably have been charged and convicted for a murder I did not commit. As I am free, speaking out now is what I must do.
Again, thanks to the many individual supporters and organizations who stand by the Angola 3 and ask you to continue to take action.
Power to the People/As Ever
Robert H. King
International Coalition to Free the Angola 3
Photo from msppmoore licensed under Creative Commons