Prosecutor Apologizes for Role in Wrongful Conviction, Criticizes Denial of Wrongful Compensation Award

A Louisiana judge has denied compensation for Glenn Ford, who was imprisoned for nearly 30 years after wrongfully convicted of murder. That decision has since been criticized by the attorney who originally prosecuted Ford, as reported by The New York Times Magazine.

A.M. Stroud III, a former Louisiana prosecutor, wrote a letter published in The Shreveport Times, apologizing for his role in the Ford trial, stating that he was driven by a desire to win rather than a desire for justice. The full letter is available here. Ford, who spent almost 30 years on death row, has been released after his conviction was overturned.

In the letter, Stroud enumerated how Ford was denied a fair trial. Ford’s defense attorneys had never tried a criminal case, were paid less than $3 per hour, and were unaware that they could ask for money to pay expert witnesses. Ford, an African-American man, was tried by an all-white jury in a courthouse which flew the Confederate flag at the time.

After his release, Ford petitioned the court for compensation for the years he spent wrongfully imprisoned. Louisiana, like Washington State, provides compensation for the wrongfully convicted. Louisiana caps compensation at $250,000, with an additional $80,000 for “loss of life opportunities.” Thus the most Ford could have recovered is $330,000. Washington State caps compensation at $50,000 per year wrongfully imprisoned; if Ford had been convicted in Washington State, he could have been entitled to $1.5 million.

However, Louisiana requires “factual innocence” for a person to be compensated. This means that the person must be found innocent for “any crime based upon the same set of facts.” As Ford was found guilty of lesser crimes based on the same facts, a Louisiana judge denied Ford compensation.

Stroud criticizes the judge’s decision. In his letter, Stroud states that:

“Glenn Ford deserves every penny owed to him under the compensation statute… the state does not accept any responsibility for the damage suffered by one of its citizens. The bureaucratic response appears to be that nobody did anything intentionally wrong, thus the state has no responsibility. This is nonsensical.”

Ford’s attorneys plan to appeal the decision.