Herman Wallace in 2008 (photo: The Innocence Project)

Herman Wallace in 2008 (photo: The Innocence Project)

Herman Wallace, whom I have written about a few times, passed away last week. His death followed just days after he had been released from in a Louisiana prison.

As the ABA Journal summarized the varied news stories:

“An inmate held in solitary confinement for 41 years for the murder of a Louisiana prison guard has died just a few days after he was released from prison because of a federal judge’s order.”

“The New York Times reports that the inmate, Herman Wallace, died Friday morning from liver cancer at the age of 71, while the New Orleans Times-Picayune says Wallace died late Thursday. He had maintained his innocence in the murder until he died.”

“Wallace was a member of the Black Panthers and was in prison for armed robbery when he and two others were convicted in the prison guard’s 1972 slaying. The group was known as the Angola Three, based on the site of the prison. A lawyer for Wallace, George Kendall, told the Times that the conviction was based on shoddy evidence and alleged that the convicted men were kept in solitary because prison officials were worried they would organize the prison for the Panthers.”

Hermans House movie poster

Herman’s House film poster

“Wallace’s lawyers claim he was convicted based on accounts by witnesses who were given incentives to testify, but the deals weren’t disclosed until decades later.”

“U.S. District Chief Judge Brian Jackson ruled on Tuesday that Wallace’s habeas petition should be granted because of systematic exclusion of women from the Louisiana grand jury that returned the indictment. Wallace was re-indicted on Thursday, the stories say.”

I first came across Wallace via a film focused on solitary confinement; I reviewed the film, Herman’s House, which I found compelling on a number of levels.

Wallace’s death was covered by multiple news outlets, both here and abroad.

Amnesty International issued a statement on Wallace’s death here, and previously covered the case here.

Hermans House movie posterBeginning tonight on most PBS stations (including in Arizona), a documentary film will air that describes one inmate’s long confinement in solitary.

Herman Wallace is in a Louisiana penitentiary, where he has spent decades in solitary. Here is a description of the movie and his situation:

“Herman Wallace may be the longest-serving prisoner in solitary confinement in the United States—he’s spent more than 40 years in a 6-by-9-foot cell in Louisiana. Imprisoned in 1967 for a robbery he admits, he was subsequently sentenced to life for a killing he vehemently denies. Herman’s House is a moving account of the remarkable expression his struggle found in an unusual project proposed by artist Jackie Sumell. Imagining Wallace’s ‘dream home’ began as a game and became an interrogation of justice and punishment in America. The film takes us inside the duo’s unlikely 12-year friendship, revealing the transformative power of art. A co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).”

Want to know more about the movie? Go here and here.

Last fall, I had the opportunity to screen the film, and I posted my review here.

For a quicker (and less verbose) synopsis, watch the trailer below.

Hermans House movie posterTonight, a film will be screened at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art that may interest lawyers and many others who seek to examine the U.S. corrections system. (Jump to the bottom for times, tickets, etc.)

Herman’s House is a feature documentary that explores what the filmmakers understatedly call “the unlikely friendship between a New York artist and one of America’s most famous inmates as they collaborate on an acclaimed art project.”

The inmate is Herman Joshua Wallace, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison on a bank robbery sentence. While he served his sentence, though, he and a fellow prisoner were accused of murdering an Angola (La.) prison guard, which landed him in solitary confinement. Though claims have been made that he may be innocent of the death charge (including claims by a widow of the guard), he has remained in solitary confinement for decades.

The film opens with an artist forming and sanding a uniquely shaped object: Is it an egg? Perhaps a stylized womb?
(more…)

My plan for today was to describe a fascinating movie that will be screened tomorrow night (Thursday). But then I stayed up far too late watching every possible election return (“Don’t turn it off! The Snohomish County School Board votes are being tallied!”). Democracy can be exhausting. And so, instead, the film update will come tomorrow. Today, I offer you some news from right here in the State Bar news world.

Here are two developments that could help improve your access to legal information.

Did you know:

State Bar of Arizona eLegal Technology Newsletter

Gotta go; the recount for the Artichoke, Minnesota, justice of the peace race is heating up. See you tomorrow.

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