5th Circuit Court Rules in Rob's Case
Updated: Apr 26
It is with extreme joy and gratitude that we would like to announce that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals released its decision regarding Rob’s case on the 5th August 2020.
As Rob’s supporters may already know, due to the tight restrictions of AEDPA (Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act), Death Row cases are heavily restricted as to what circumstances they may bring second or successive federal habeas applications.
Tragically in Rob’s case, both his trial and state habeas appeal were entirely mishandled. His habeas lawyer- who was suffering from Parkison’s disease at the time of the appeal- submitted a copy and paste appeal he had previously submitted for a notorious serial killer, even down to the typos! In addition, it was a paltry 28 pages long and contained nothing of merit pertaining to Rob’s case.
During the last several years, Rob’s attorneys have been fighting to gain Rob another attempt at appeal, arguing that an exception to the AEDPA rules should be made due to Brady* evidence that could not have been presented earlier.
Thankfully, after many long months of agonising waiting, the 5th Circuit court has agreed.
In a 23-page decision released just yesterday, the court stated:
“We affirm the district court’s transfer order and grant the motion for authorization. Will’s arguments may not prevail, but he should be allowed to make them.”
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is notoriously conservative and rarely grants relief. With that in mind, and that it is the last real step prior to receiving an execution date, Rob’s supporters have been awaiting this decision with bated breath.
The three requirements in order for the court to grant a successive habeas application within the district court are that:
(1) his Brady claim was not presented in a prior application (2) the factual predicate for the Brady claim “could not have been discovered previously through the exercise of due diligence” (3) he can establish by “clear and convincing evidence that, but for [the Brady] error, no reasonable factfinder would have found” him guilty
All of which the court agreed had been met.
Although the court took the time to list the many convincing factors pointing towards Rob’s innocence, the decision hinged on the Brady evidence of jail records that show Rob’s co-defendant had been transferred into administrative segregation after attempting to have a “Hit” put on Rob. In addition to this, further records show that the co-defendant made incriminating statements to an officer at the jail. This evidence was never turned over by the prosecution to the defence at time of trial, and only came to light a decade after Rob’s conviction and well past the time of his direct and habeas appeals.
The 5th Circuit stated:
“As the district court stressed, there is “considerable evidence supporting Will’s innocence,” including “the total absence of eyewitness testimony or strongly probative forensic evidence.” There were “disturbing uncertainties” of Will’s culpability even before the introduction of the withheld evidence. Now, with the new evidence in hand, the uncertainties are even more disturbing. Based on the probative value of the previously withheld evidence, Will has made a sufficient showing to proceed to a fuller review. He’s demonstrated it is reasonably likely that, after hearing the new evidence alongside the old evidence, every reasonable juror would have some level of reasonable doubt.”
We would like to thank everyone that has supported us thus far as ask for your continuing support as we continue Rob’s fight for freedom.
*Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), established that the prosecution must turn over all evidence that might exonerate the defendant (exculpatory evidence) to the defense.
# innocent people on death row