NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The New Orleans District Attorney’s Office says it will not stand in the way of new trials for 22 state prisoners previously convicted by split juries.
Jason Williams says it is just the beginning.
Williams made the announcement Friday afternoon saying he is committed to fixing the sins of the past.
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against split jury verdicts in cases with ongoing appeals finding that the U.S. Constitution requires a unanimous verdict.
Williams says the actions of his office is aimed at wiping away the stains of the Jim Crow legal era when the practice of split juries was put in place.
Of the 22 defendants affected, so far 17 of them will be re-prosecuted. Sixteen of them have agreed to plead guilty either to the same charge or a lesser charge.
The DA’s office says the remaining five cases will be reviewed and the office will decide whether or not to re-prosecute those cases again.
“This doesn’t mean that 22 people walked out into the streets today. What this means is that every single case will be reassessed as we go forward and many will be re-prosecuted in an appropriate non-racist manner,” says Williams.
“To be clear, we have undertaken this process. Aware that victims and survivors must have a voice in this and an opportunity to be heard and so the process that we have laid out accommodates that need and survivors being heard,” says Emily Maw with the District Attorney’s Civil Rights Division.
All of the cases are right now before newly elected Criminal Court judge Nandi Campbell.
The DA made it clear that this is just the beginning.
He says there are many other cases to consider moving forward.
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