Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jimmy Robertson pens article about innocent men in prison

Note: I have updated this post to repair the link to Robertson's article. It now links to the Acrobat version of the Capitol Area Bar Association Newsletter for June, 2011. His article is on page 8. The CABA should consider keeping their old content online in Internet form, in my view.

Note, 10-6-2012: I have again updated the link to Robertson's column, this time to a copy of the newsletter that I had saved on my computer. CABA apparently doesn't keep it's old newsletters online, which doesn't make much sense to me, since the article is worth reading.

    Former Ole Miss law professor and Mississippi supreme court justice Jimmy Robertson has a must-read article in the Capital Area Bar Association newsletter. It deals with the problem of innocent people spending their life behind bars, and the indifference of the state to their plight, and is entitled "A Life Sentence Served by an Innocent Man."
    I only had Robertson for one class at Ole Miss, the rather dry Theory of Law or some such. We always joked that he kept his class notes inside his coffee cup, because he had no other lecture notes but would sometimes stare down in his coffee cup before lecturing.
    The article begins:
On Feb. 18, 2011, Circuit Judge Robert Helfrich of Hattiesburg entered an order that reads:

Larry Ruffin is officially exonerated and declared innocent of the crime of capital murder for which he was convicted in 1980 in Forrest County. That conviction is null and void.

Larry Donnell Ruffin was 20 years old when he was wrongfully arrested and charged. He served his life sentence in full. He died at Parchman in 2002.

I am sick at heart at my role in the fate of this innocent man.

And later he presents the fact we all hate to admit:
No thinking person can reasonably doubt that there are about 100 innocent persons today in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. To be sure, the number may be only 80, but then it may be 120. Addressing this certain circumstance of injustice is complicated by the fact that there are likely 2,000 or more who say they are innocent.

    A fair and decent justice system is not a liberal or conservative issue. It's a issue of what we stand for as Mississippians and Americans. The reading of this article is required for good citizenship, so get to it! Hats off to NorthMississippiCommentor for noting this article.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An e-mail sent to Tom Freeland on the plight of Mary Shields went unanswered several months ago. Ms. Shields was charged with murder in a New Years Eve fistfight on the dancefloor of a black dance hall. The "victim" died of a heart attack on the dancefloor after fighting with Ms. Shields and her brother. Dr. Haynes testified that Ms. Shields' actions led to his death. Judge Kitchen sentenced her to life in prison without parole, saying that he had no other choice.