Judge grants C.J. Rice petition to challenge sentence | CNN Politics

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CJ Rice may soon be a free man.

Rice, we told you about our case and the unrepresented representation in court by CNN
And in the cover story Atlantic In the year In October 2022, Nitza 1 Quinones Alejandro, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, filed for a writ of habeas corpus on Monday.

Alejandro said Rice’s “trial counsel provided ineffective assistance” and ordered Pennsylvania to decide whether to retry or be freed within 180 days.

A decision will be made by the Philadelphia district attorney within the next six months. Rice has been in prison for over 11 years.

The case arrived first National focus Because of this reporter’s cover story in The Atlantic, titled “This Is Not Justice: A Philadelphia Teenager and the Sixth Amendment’s Vain Hope,” Rice found that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was ineffective in many ways. In the year He was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison for the 2011 shooting.

This reporter first reported Rice’s case to his father, Dr. Theodore S. Tapper, who was Rice’s pediatrician and said he didn’t believe Rice could carry out the shooting in 2011 as he was recovering from an accident. A different shot at the time. The story indicated that Carl Schwartz, a lawyer believed to be employed by this reporter’s father, was filing a habeas petition to free Rice. Habeas corpus is a legal principle that allows people who believe they are unlawfully imprisoned or detained to challenge it.

In the year In December 2022, Schwartz filed a habeas petition, specifically arguing that Rice’s attorney was incompetent to present evidence that motivated the shooting. Subsequently, attorneys Neelam Sanghivi and Amelia Maxfield of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, former attorney Donald Verrilli and attorney Ginger Anders of Munger, Tolles & Olson, LLP joined the effort. On September 22, the District Attorney’s Office granted relief based on the motivated motion claim.

In October 23, Judge Carol Sandra Moore Wells, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, ordered that “habeas relief is necessary.” The decision then went to Alejandro, who ruled Monday.

Here’s the basics of the story: Rice was shot in September 2011, and after being discharged, he saw his pediatrician. Rice could barely walk. Not long after that, two young black men shot and injured a separate family, but thankfully there were no deaths. That night, although the victims knew Rice, no suspects were identified. But the next day, after an anonymous tip, police re-interviewed the victims, and suddenly someone picked out Rice as one of the shooters who didn’t follow the pattern suggested in a photo lineup. Rice, a defense attorney with inadequate conduct after hiring Sandjay Weaver, was convicted and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.

After the Atlantic story was published, this reporter ran to Verrilli and urged him to read the story. He did, and was soon working with Schwartz and Erin Haney of the Reform Alliance, which was involved at the behest of this reporter, CNN’s Van Jones. After this reporter did the CNN version of the story with Jones and Barry Sheik of the Innocence Project, that organization became involved.

Schwartz’s plea is aimed at determining “another inadmissible fact that caused Rice to commit the crime,” said Weaver Assistant District Attorney Peter Andrews. “The prosecution’s theory was that the shooting was revenge against one of the victims for shooting Rice three weeks earlier. But since neither the police nor the prosecution could present any concrete evidence to prove the victim’s guilt in the earlier shooting, the court was prepared to exclude the evidence as overwhelmingly prejudicial. Instead, on the morning of the trial, Rice’s attorney stated that the evidence would be forthcoming. Trial counsel’s decision to agree to this stipulation was unreasonable, as the evidence was inadmissible and could only harm her client.

Andrews, arguing that Rice was not afforded a right under the Sixth Amendment, which guarantees a defendant’s right to counsel, argued that inadequate counsel meant Rice was subject to “habeas relief” — a fundamental right elsewhere in the Constitution. Protects against illegal and indefinite detention. As a result, Andrews wrote, “The Commonwealth respectfully requests that the Court grant a conditional writ of habeas corpus and order Rice to appear again within 180 days or be released.”

The case has now been sent to state court, specifically the Court of Common Pleas, where a judge will be assigned to schedule a status hearing for both parties – Rice and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – to be represented by the district attorney. of Philadelphia, has up to six months to decide whether to try the case, even if the office has already determined that Rice did not receive a fair trial.

The district attorney’s office said in a statement Monday that it was “pleased” with the district court’s order to vacate Rice’s conviction. “This case will be led by the DA’s Sentencing Committee, which includes homicide prosecutors and will invite survivors of the 2011 shooting in which Mr. Rice was previously charged. After the sentencing committee makes a recommendation on how to proceed with the charges against petitioner Rice, District Attorney Larry Krasner’s decision will be formally communicated to the Court of Common Pleas before sentencing. We expect this matter to be finally resolved in the next several months.

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