Agreement reached: Future of death row clemency cases decided in a settlement
BATON ROUGE, La. (KALB) - The future of 56 death row inmates in Louisiana who have asked Gov. John Bel Edwards to consider commuting their sentence to life in prison is now in limbo after a settlement agreement was reached this week between the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, district attorneys throughout the state, the Louisiana Board of Pardons and the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
That settlement essentially halts any scheduled hearings and delays any potential hearings until after Dec. 31, 2023.
In July, 56 of the 57 inmates on death row, including two cases tied to Rapides Parish and Natchitoches Parish, filed an eleventh-hour attempt at clemency before Edwards leaves office in January. This comes after the governor publically said in April that he was opposed to the death penalty in an address to the state legislature.
Hearings for 20 of the inmates’ clemency applications were set in August for October 13, November 8, November 13 and November 27, which prompted a lawsuit through AG Jeff Landry’s office against the Louisiana Board of Pardons, et al.
Multiple district attorneys around the state, including Rapides Parish DA Phillip Terrell and Natchitoches DA Billy Joe Herrington filed their own lawsuits against the Board of Pardons.
This week, News Channel 5 learned a settlement had been reached between the parties, which essentially halts the scheduled hearings and delays any potential hearings until after Dec. 31, 2023.
On the dates that were originally scheduled for hearings, meetings will still take place, but they will be administrative reviews and not actual hearings that would have determined the fate of the case. If cases receive the green light to move forward, a hearing date will not occur before Dec. 31. No other cases will be considered or added, meaning only the 20 with scheduled hearings will be taken up for administrative review before the end of the year.
There is a 60-day delay after those administrative hearings before a clemency hearing could take place if the Board agrees to move them forward. The first date that could potentially happen would be Dec. 14 with the first group of five inmates. None of those cases are from Central Louisiana. The first group would also be the only group making the deadline before the governor leaves office.
”What we now have based upon the litigation today and the results in court today is the possibility of even being considered for clemency for a death row inmate is limited to five, a maximum of five,” said Loren Lampert, executive director of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association.
Lampert said they will submit opposition at the administrative review hearing, any recommendations for clemency that may come and any clemency hearing that may happen as a result.
“We will continue to fight until every victim’s family gets the relief that they are entitled to and that is some peace.”
Additionally, The AG and DAs have agreed to dismiss the lawsuits that spurred the agreement.
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