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State District Attorneys Association working to block clemency hearings for death row inmates

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BATON ROUGE - The State District Attorneys Association is working on a plan to have a judge intervene to stop the pardon board from conducting clemency hearings for inmates sitting on death row.

Last week, Governor John Bel Edwards issued a strongly worded letter to the pardon board that he appoints urging them to take action. The LDAA said the board can't violate its own rules and beliefs and hearings for individuals who are ineligible shouldn't happen.

"We were surprised that they reversed themselves that quickly. If you recall, they unanimously voted to not consider waiving their rules as it relates to this process," LDAA Executive Director Loren Lampert said.

Lampert says the district attorneys who are impacted by the decision are working hard to block the hearings from happening.

"There are district attorneys around the state and their staffs that have their books open to the same page, and they are researching every available mechanism to number one hit the reset button to make sure the board agrees to follow their own rules," Lampert said.

In most instances, it takes more than a year for an individual case to come up for clemency. Lampert said his organization and the DAs he's talking to around the state are perplexed that the board could try to consider dozens for clemency and have confidence in those results.

"These victims that have been dealing with the most traumatic event in the history of their family and have come to terms with this process, have now been thrust in the middle of this," Lampert said. "Many of them can plan their Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday to deal with [clemency hearings] when they were going to be enjoying their family."

Among some of the offenders scheduled for hearings are Henri Broadway and Todd Wessinger. Broadway is sitting on death row for the murder of BRPD Officer Betty Smothers.

Wessinger is sitting on death row for killing two people at the Calendar's Restaurant on Perkins Road.

"Every district attorney that I have talked to that has a case is preparing to defend against this attack," Lampert said.


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