FEDERAL JUDGE FREES LOUISIANA PRISONER CONVICTED BY NON-UNANIMOUS JURY IN 2003
Work by SMU Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center leads to Troy Rhodes’s release to transitional reentry housing before retrial
(DALLAS – May 31, 2018) Today, U.S. District Judge Jane Triche-Milazzo ordered the State of Louisiana to release Troy Rhodes from prison. In 2003, a non-unanimous jury voted 10-2 to convict Mr. Rhodes of armed robbery and attempted second-degree murder. Judge Triche-Milazzo had previously ruled that Rhodes had not received the effective assistance of counsel guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.
Rhodes was thankful for a second chance at justice and the opportunity to spend time with his wife, children and grandchildren. “I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time,” he said. “I thank God for this decision. I know it’s not over yet, but this is in the Lord’s hands.”
The Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center at SMU Dedman School of Law has been working on the case and petitioned for Rhodes’s release.
“We’re grateful for the judge’s decision,” said Professor Pamela R. Metzger, Director of the SMU Deason Center. “We believe this decision, along with recent steps taken by the
Louisiana legislature, show the promise of criminal justice reform.”
Earlier this month, the Louisiana House of Representatives voted 82-15 to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot and let voters decide the fate of a law that allows juries to return non-unanimous verdicts in felony trials. The Louisiana Senate passed a similar bill in early April.
Rhodes has been released to The First 72+, a New Orleans nonprofit that helps formerly incarcerated people reacclimate to their new lives outside of prison. The SMU Deason Center will continue to handle legal matters pertaining to Rhodes’s case.