Updated Sept. 8, 2023. Originally posted Feb. 16, 2023.

The Ninth Circuit issued its decision in the case of Roger Wayne Parker, who was wrongly held in pretrial detention for four years even after prosecutors received evidence clearing him of wrongdoing.  On Aug. 15, 2023, the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded the District Court’s decision without prejudice as to Mr. Parker’s ability to bring additional due process claims.  In its decision, the Ninth Circuit suggested that Mr. Parker is likely entitled to relief for these violations of his due process rights.  Mr. Parker’s counsel will be filing an amended complaint in line with the Ninth Circuit’s suggestion.

For nearly four years, prosecutors in Riverside County knowingly kept Mr. Parker incarcerated even when the evidence indicated someone else was to blame.  Supervisory prosecutors insisted on prosecuting Mr. Parker, a Black, developmentally delayed man, even as trial lawyers assigned to the case saw Mr. Parker’s innocence and recommended dismissing the charges.  When the Riverside District Attorney’s office received a recorded call of Mr. Parker’s prior roommate confessing to the murder with which Mr. Parker was charged, it still did not dismiss the charges against Mr. Parker for another six months and unlawfully withheld the confession from Mr. Parker’s defense counsel.

Working with Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), Bienert Katzman Littrell Williams LLP filed an amicus brief to the Ninth Circuit on behalf of Mr. Parker.  In its amicus brief, BKLW argued that it is imperative that the Ninth Circuit allow meritorious civil rights claims of wrongful incarceration resulting from the withholding of exculpatory evidence by prosecutors to go forward under 42 U.S.C § 1983. 

With the help of BKLW and LEAP, Mr. Parker has the chance at justice for the years he spent in custody for a crime that prosecutors knew he did not commit.  LEAP, a nonprofit organization composed of former prosecutors, law enforcement officials, judges, and other criminal-justice professionals, works on cases like Mr. Parker’s.  LEAP seeks to heal relations between the community and police, improve public safety, promote alternatives to arrest and incarceration, and address the root causes of crime all through sensible changes to the criminal-justice system.

“One of the core components of Mr. Parker’s situation is that it highlights a systemic issue within our justice system," said Lt. Diane Goldstein (Ret.), Executive Director of LEAP.  "We need to continually work toward weeding out bad actors in justice. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that people who have knowledge of any miscarriage of justice come forward; we are all safer when the system holds those negative influences accountable.”

Read more about Mr. Parker’s ordeal:

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