Attorney Marty Stroud’s Apology Commendable

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Opinion by John SettleLetter to Wrongfully Convicted Glenn Ford Unprecedented

In December 1984 Glenn Ford (a black man) was convicted by an all white Caddo jury of first-degree murder; he was then sentenced to death for the November 1983 murder of a Shreveport jeweler. Shreveport attorney Marty Stroud was the lead prosecutor. Ford was released from death row in March 2014 after the state admitted having new evidence proving Ford was not the killer.

Gavel_BarsFord is currently seeking compensation from the State of Louisiana for his wrongful conviction under a statute that allows recovery of $25,000 per year of incarceration with a cap of $250,000; Ford spent almost 30 years on death row. Ford has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and his life span may be less than a year; he will probably not be alive to see the resolution of his claim which can be pursued by his family after his death.

Stroud blames himself for no pursuing possible circumstantial evidence that may have cleared Ford of the murder charge. Stroud did not fail to disclose exculpatory evidence to Ford’s counsel; he says that he failed to follow up on rumors about the involvement of parties (other than Ford) being credible. He believes that if he had been more inquisitive, the evidence would have surfaced “light years ago”, and thus his inaction contributed to the miscarriage of justice.

Taking_ResponsibilityStroud, who is now a criminal defense attorney, has prosecuted 3 capital cases and defended 2; these efforts have clearly taken a toll on him—both physically and emotionally. Stroud says he while he is relieved that Ford has been released and not put to death, he is “shocked and devastated” that he unwittingly had a role in sending Ford to death row. He sent a 3 page apology to Ford and his family which he realizes does little to restore Ford’s lost life; hopefully it will help Stroud live with himself.

Stroud is now vehemently opposed to the death penalty-his position has changed over this 38 years of practice and recognition of his role in the Ford death sentence. He is very critical of the State for fighting Ford’s efforts to be compensated for his wrongful imprisonment. This case is presently pending before Caddo District Judge Katherine Dorroh; there is no timetable for its resolution.

Caddo District Attorney Charles Scott does not share Stroud’s strong conviction that Ford is an innocent man. Scott says that he believes that Ford was guilty of criminal involvement in the death of the Shreveport jeweler. According to Scott, Ford was attempting to purchase a weapon before the murder, and then attempting to sell the murder weapon after the murder. Ford claimed that he was selling the weapon on behalf of someone else—and Scott says that Ford was “hardly an innocent man.”

silhouette-question-markWhat impact, if any , Stroud’s letter and recent front page story in the (Shreveport) Times will have on Ford’s case for compensation will probably never be known. Ford also has 2 cases in federal court—one for wrongful imprisonment and the other for denial of adequate medical care. In the first suit Stroud along with former assistant district attorney Carey Schimpf, former District Attorney Paul Carmouche, and 4 former police detectives are named defendants.

No one questions the propriety of Stroud’s actions at the trial or believes that he crossed the line as a prosecutor. At the time he followed “the rules”—which in today’s world possibly could be subject to question. Stroud’s heartfelt comments reflect serious reflection by a man that has had the courage to examine his past actions, evaluate new evidence, and then apologize for his inaction that may have made a difference some 30 years ago. Stroud is to be commended for his apology to Ford, and even more so by going public with his thoughts, emotions, and concerns.

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