Category: Articles

42 U.S.C. § 14141 as a New Method of Prosecutorial Oversight: A Look at Prosecutorial Misconduct in Louisiana

Author: Sarah Lambert

[Prosecutor] Jim Williams tortured me and tried to kill me. By plain definition, I am a victim of torture and attempted murder. My mother, my sons, my grandmother were all victims of that torture. They hurt every day that I was locked in a cell on death row and the State was trying to kill me. Now everyone acts as if nothing happened to us. Is it because our lives don’t matter? No-one has been brought to justice for what happened to me, to the scores of others in Louisiana like me and to the thousands of people around the country who have been exonerated. We are victims, we want the perpetrators held to account and no one is doing it.

–John Thompson[1]

John Thompson spent eighteen years in prison—fourteen years on death row—for crimes he did not commit.[2] He was eventually exonerated and released.[3] To date, no one has been held accountable for Thompson’s wrongful imprisonment. His first attempt to hold the prosecutor’s office who wrongfully imprisoned him accountable for withholding exculpatory evidence was eventually denied by the U.S. Supreme Court.[4] Thompson, however, is not giving up hope that prosecutors, including one of the prosecutors in his own case, will be held accountable for unethical—what Thompson calls “arguably criminal”—actions.[5]

On August 2, 2016, Thompson filed a complaint to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) against former Prosecutor Jim Williams and the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office, requesting an investigation.[6] This article provides a brief background of Thompson’s Supreme Court case (Connick v. Thompson) and the existing mechanisms of prosecutorial oversight, details Thompson’s complaint to the DOJ, and discusses possible future implications.

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Sacrificial Victims: Louisiana’s Flawed Attempt at Protecting Survivors of Domestic Violence from Eviction

Author: Patrick Murphree

Until August 2015, Louisiana landlords could make the summoning of the police or acts of domestic violence on the premises cause for eviction.[1] Domestic violence victims were thus forced to choose between summoning help and losing their homes.[2] In a laudable attempt to remedy this situation, the Louisiana legislature passed a law restricting the ability of landlords to evict victims as a result of their abusers’ actions.[3] Nevertheless, the final act abandoned the promise of the original bill, leaving too many Louisianans without adequate protection of their housing rights in the aftermath of domestic violence. By prioritizing the needs of landlords over those of domestic violence survivors, the legislature values the economic interests of property holders more than the safety of victims.

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