The following statements were issued by the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3. The ANSWER Coalition joins with progressive people around the world in celebrating the court order to free Albert Woodfox, the last member of the Angola 3 still in prison. The Attorney General of Louisiana is appealing this order, and a ruling on the appeal could come as early as Friday, June 12.
We are ecstatic to announce that late this afternoon Judge Brady granted the unicorn of habeas rulings--an "unconditional writ" ordering Albert's immediate release and barring a retrial.
He argues that this extraordinary remedy is merited due to the following 5 factors: "Mr. Woodfox's age and poor health, his limited ability to present a defense at a third trial in light of the unavailability of witnesses, this Court's lack of confidence in the State to provide a fair third trial, the prejudice done onto Mr. Woodfox by spending over forty-years in solitary confinement, and finally the very fact that Mr. Woodfox has already been tried twice and would otherwise face his third trial for a crime that occurred over forty years ago."
The State immediately announced their plans to appeal and request and emergency stay of the order from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Though we don't yet know if Albert will be released in days or months, he has never been closer to freedom.
We will let you know more as soon as we do.
Statement from Albert Woodfox's Lawyers, George Kendall and Carine Williams, July 8:
"There is nothing arbitrary about the federal court's ruling, which is carefully considered and relies on firmly established law. As that law requires, under the extraordinary circumstances of this case--where Mr. Woodfox has spent 40 years in solitary confinement under constitutionally invalid convictions--the only just remedy is his immediate release from prison. The federal court further recognizes that the State has now had two chances to secure a valid conviction against Mr. Woodfox and has been unable to do so. Now, because the State's key witnesses are deceased, and Mr. Woodfox's alibi witnesses are also deceased, there is no practical way for there to be a third trial which comports with the standards of a fair, American trial. We are optimistic that Louisiana will comply with the federal court's ruling. We look forward to Mr. Woodfox going home to his family; getting much needed medical attention; and living the remainder of his days in peace."
UPDATE: June 9
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has just issued a temporary stay of Judge Brady's order to give Albert's attorneys time to respond to the appeal.
Though there will be no freedom for Albert tonight, we remain confident that Judge Brady's ruling is rooted in strong legal precedent and that justice will finally prevail for Albert sooner than later.
We will do our best to keep you updated as things develop.