We have often discussed how prosecutors rarely are held accountable for botched trials due to misconduct or sending innocent people to jail. There remains a body count mentality with many prosecutors that tends to fuel such violations. One former prosecutor has proven the exception, however. Attorney A.M. Stroud III has written a letter, later published in the Shreveport Times, that took responsibility for sending away Glenn Ford (left) for the 1983 murder of Isodore Rozeman, a Shreveport jeweler — a murder he did not commit. Stroud’s letter expressed shame with his own conduct as a prosecutor and further called for an end to the death penalty in Louisiana.
In his letter, Stroud, 64, states that as a prosecutor “I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” He admits that “[i]n 1984, I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning. To borrow a phrase from Al Pacino in the movie And Justice for All, ‘Winning became everything.'”
While he said that he thought justice was done when the death penalty was imposed, he admits that the conviction by an all-white jury was questionable at the time. One witness admitted that she lied to protect a boyfriend who was a suspect. Stroud says that he was too “passive” and uninterested in pursuing signs of innocence and “I did not consider the rumors about the involvement of parties other than Mr. Ford to be credible, especially since the three others who were indicted for the crime were ultimately released for lack of sufficient evidence to proceed to the trial.”
Stroud is now on the other side criticizing the state for opposing compensation for Ford for his time in jail: “The audacity of the state’s effort to deny Mr. Ford any compensation for the horrors he suffered in the name of Louisiana justice is appalling.”
He describes what is the most common form of prosecutorial abuse — not the active hiding of evidence but the refusal to pursue or acknowledge countervailing evidence: “My mindset was wrong and blinded me to my purpose of seeking justice, rather than obtaining a conviction of a person who I believed to be guilty. I did not hide evidence, I simply did not seriously consider that sufficient information may have been out there that could have led to a different conclusion. And that omission is on me.”
He concludes with the following statement:
“I end with the hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford. But, I am also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it.”
Kudos: Michael Blott