28 November 2014

Court Overturns Woodfox Conviction

Still in Solitary

(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)

On November 20, the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a 2012 lower court decision to overturn Albert Woodfox’s conviction for the 1972 fatal stabbing of a Louisiana prison guard. This ruling is the fourth time a court has tossed out his murder conviction; yet Woodfox outrageously still languishes in solitary confinement. Even the American bourgeoisie’s main mouthpiece, the New York Times, now calls Woodfox’s treatment “barbaric beyond measure.”

After they organized a Black Panther Party chapter at Angola prison, Woodfox and fellow inmates Herman Wallace and Robert King, known as the Angola Three, were put in the crosshairs by their jailers. Woodfox and Wallace were framed up for stabbing prison guard Brent Miller. King was falsely convicted of killing a fellow inmate a year later. Wallace died from liver cancer in October 2013, only three days after his release from prison. King was released in 2001.

Woodfox’s conviction had all the earmarks of a classic railroad. There was not a shred of physical evidence linking him to the murder and it was later revealed that the key prosecution “eyewitness” was bribed for his testimony at trial. So transparent was the frame-up that Miller’s widow, Leontine Rogers, believes Woodfox to be innocent and has joined the call to release him.

In 1992, Woodfox’s conviction was first overturned in court. He was retried and convicted again six years later. Over the next 14 years, that conviction was subsequently overturned, reinstated and overturned again, in 2012. The latest court ruling rejects the state’s appeal of the 2012 decision. This legal labyrinth vividly illustrates the vindictive campaign to see that Woodfox rots in prison hell. Woodfox should not spend a single additional night in prison but he remains buried alive as the state of Louisiana considers appealing the ruling. Free Albert Woodfox now!

* * *

(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1057, 28 November 2014)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.