Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Paul House to Be Released

For years, Paul House has sat, inflicted by MS and confined to a wheelchair, on Tennessee's Death Row, suffering for a crime that he almost certainly did not commit. (More on House's case at the TCASK site.) House's plight has garnered widespread media coverage, including this 2004 spot on 60 Minutes. Now, despite the best efforts of Tennessee's attorney general, Paul House will be going home. Thank God (literally)! House still hasn't been exonerated, but this is a long overdue step in the right direction.

From a TCASK news release:

In a ruling issued today, Judge Harry S. Mattice stated that Paul House will be released pending a hearing on May 28, 2008 to consider the terms and conditions of his release. In his ruling, Mattice stated:

The public has a compelling interest in the State not continuing to incarcerate individuals who have not been accorded their constitutional right to a fair trial. Citizens will not have confidence in the criminal justice system unless they are convinced that the system is compliant with constitutional norms. The federal writ of habeas corpus monitors the State's compliance with constitutional law; this, in turn, inspires the public's confidence in the criminal justice system. The State of Tennessee does not have a defensible interest in the continued incarceration of an individual whose conviction was obtained in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The petitioner in this case has been incarcerated for 22 years as the result of a trial which this court, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States , has determined to have been fundamentally unfair.

This decision to release Paul House does not exonerate him but allows him to live at home in the custody and care of his mother, Joyce, until the courts conclude this case. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals will be ruling on April 30 as to whether the state of Tennessee must retry House or release him. Depending on the outcome of that decision, House will either face retrial or become a free man.


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