Arkansas death row prisoner Ledell Lee, now represented in federal court by Cassandra Stubbs of the ACLU, will appear before an Arkansas circuit court today to at 1:30 p.m. CT to argue that he is entitled to test critical evidence from his 1993 trial to prove his innocence. Lee seeks to test blood and hair evidence that has never been previously tested in the case.
The DNA pleadings are available here:
Motion for Testing
Breakdown in Judicial and Attorney Processes/Intellectual Disability & Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Lee has also filed a motion in federal court asking the court reopen his federal case due to the breakdown in counsel over his decades of review, particularly the failure of counsel to bring evidence of his intellectual disability. Lee has presented new evidence showing that he has fetal alcohol syndrome disorder, significant brain damage, and intellectual disability. These facts were concealed by the line of counsel plagued with conflicts of interests, substance abuse, serious mental illness, and gross incompetence.
Additionally, Lee was tried by a judge who concealed his own conflict of interest: an affair with the assistant prosecutor, to whom the judge was later married. Mr. Lee’s first state post-conviction counsel introduced the evidence of the affair by calling the judge’s ex-wife, who testified about the affair after opposing the subpoena. That lawyer, however, was so intoxicated at the hearing that the state moved for him to be drug tested after he slurred, stumbled, and made incoherent arguments.
The inebriated lawyer also represented Lee briefly in federal court, where he raised the important claim that Lee was ineligible for execution because of intellectual disability.
Lee won new proceedings because of the lawyer’s drunkenness, though his representation did not improve afterward. His next lawyers failed to introduce evidence of the affair, giving up one of many of Lee’s important arguments, and never pursued his innocence or intellectual disability claims.
Lee has appointed new counsel, Stubbs of the ACLU, just this week, and has been represented by Arkansas counsel Lee Short since August.
"This is a story of the judicial process gone totally wrong," Stubbs said. "The kinds of attorney failures here: an affair with the presiding judge by the prosecutor, gross intoxication by defense counsel, and wild incompetence undermine our profession as a whole. Mr. Lee has never had the opportunity to have his case truly investigated, despite serious questions about guilt, and his intellectual disability."
The federal pleading is available here:
Motion for Relief
Death Row Prisoner Ledell Lee Seeks New Evidence to Prove His Innocence
Lee Also Files Motion Seeking Stay and New Proceedings in Federal Court With Evidence of Intellectual Disability