DA should release Julius Jones’ case file to his attorneys

Witness to Innocence is calling on DA David Prater to release the case file to Julius Jones' attorneys. Read the full letter below:


August 16, 2018


District Attorney David Prater

320 Robert S Kerr Ave # 505

Oklahoma City, OK 73102


Dear Mr. Prater,


For the past few years, our organization has been following the case of Julius Jones -- a Black man who has been on Oklahoma’s death row for over 20 years. Like many others, we are deeply troubled by emerging details, which include yet another individual coming forward regarding Christopher Jordan’s admission of guilt. For these reasons, we urge you to release Mr. Jones’ case file to his attorneys, as is consistent with recommendations made by the Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission report published in 2017.


Witness to Innocence is an organization of, by, and for death row exonerees. Our mission is to empower exonerated death row survivors through public speaking, testifying in state legislatures and media interviews. Our members expose the reality that innocent people are sentenced to death across the United States, including in Oklahoma, where ten individuals have already been exonerated and released from death row.


We know that many of your fellow Oklahomans share our concern, which is the reason the Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission published recommendations designed to “[eliminate] the unacceptable risk of executing the innocent, as well as the unacceptable risks of inconsistent, discriminatory, and inhumane application of the death penalty.”


One such recommendation reads as follows:


"All Oklahoma district attorneys’ offices and the Office of the Attorney General should be required to allow open-file discovery at all stages of a capital case, including during the direct appeal, state post-conviction review, federal habeas corpus review, and any clemency proceedings. … As the Commission learned during its review of wrongful convictions, the possibility that exculpatory evidence may be uncovered extends beyond the trial phase. Thus, meaningful discovery cannot be limited to the trial stage and should extend to appellate stages and clemency proceedings.”


While it may be true that no law currently requires your office to release your case file (as recommended by the Commission), we hope that your responsibilities as an officer of the law and an agent of justice would compel you to do so voluntarily. Failing to do so, at a minimum, casts doubt on the state’s willingness to be transparent and open about any evidence that may or may not exist pointing to Mr. Jones’ innocence and wrongful conviction.

For that reason, we respectfully request that you release your office’s casefile to the public as soon as possible so that truth may prevail.

Sincerely,

Kirk Bloodsworth

Executive Director