December 01, 2016

United States Supreme Court Orders New Trial for Louisiana Man on Death Row

On March 7, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court granted relief to Michael Wearry, represented by volunteer lawyers from Fredrikson & Byron and the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana. In a per curiam opinion, the Court vacated Mr. Wearry’s conviction and death sentence based on multiple instances of prosecutorial misconduct. Mr. Wearry was convicted and sentenced to death in Louisiana for the 1998 murder of Eric Walber. In 2009, the ABA recruited Fredrikson & Byron to provide pro bono representation to Mr. Wearry. Mr. Wearry’s legal team found that there were numerous other witnesses who could have corroborated his alibi at trial and that the State had failed to disclose several pieces of exculpatory evidence to the defense.

After the state courts denied post-conviction relief, Fredrikson submitted a petition for a writ of certiorari, seeking review of the Louisiana Supreme Court’s decision in the U.S. Supreme Court. Based on the arguments in that petition alone, and without hearing oral arguments or requesting full briefing on the merits, the Court reversed and granted relief based on the State’s failure to disclose evidence that cast doubt on Mr. Wearry’s guilt. Despite this new evidence, the State is currently planning to re-try Mr. Wearry. Fredrikson volunteer attorneys have shown remarkable dedication to their client and continue to provide pro bono assistance.