May 9, 2022

Securing Compensation for Decades of Wrongful Imprisonment


A Milbank LLP pro bono team, working with the Promise of Justice Initiative (PJI), filed a successful petition for compensation for wrongful conviction and incarceration against the state of Louisiana on behalf of a New Orleans man who had served 22 years of a 99-year sentence based on a non-unanimous Jim Crow jury conviction. He was awarded the maximum of $330,000 for his wrongful conviction.

In recent years, only Louisiana and Oregon have allowed non-unanimous jury convictions. Our client was convicted of armed robbery in 2000 by a non-unanimous jury and was sentenced to 99 years in prison after prosecutors invoked a previous felony conviction as an aggravating factor.

Following the US Supreme Court’s 2020 decision in Ramos v. Louisiana, in which the court struck down the use of non-unanimous verdicts, Milbank and PJI filed a petition on the client’s behalf for post-conviction relief. Shortly thereafter, and coincidentally, the alleged victim – the only witness in the 2000 trial – recanted his testimony. The prosecutors subsequently dismissed the charge and our client was released from prison.

The Milbank team included Eric Stodola, Kyle Satterfield and Samuel Smith.

Milbank has a long history of commitment to social justice work and correcting inequities in our criminal justice system and government policies that disproportionately affect people of color. In the past year alone, working with the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, the firm successfully secured parole eligibility for three clients who had served decades in Louisiana prisons after being sentenced to life without parole as juveniles.