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BKLW Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Innocent Man Held in Pretrial Detention for Four Years

Thu 16th Feb 2023, Blog, amicus brief, appeal, appeals, ninth circuit

Working with Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), Bienert Katzman Littrell Williams LLP filed earlier this month an amicus brief to the Ninth Circuit on behalf of Roger Wayne Parker, who was wrongly held in detention for four years even after prosecutors received evidence clearing him of wrongdoing.  The Ninth Circuit will hear oral arguments on May 8, 2023 in Pasadena, Calif. 

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.

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:

Claim: Prosecutors knowingly jailed an innocent man, ABC 10 News San Diego

Ex-prosecutor says Riverside County superiors told him to ditch evidence pointing to murder defendant’s innocence, The Press Enterprise 

Associated Attorneys


Sandra C. Lechman, criminal defense attorney

Sandra Lechman

Whitney Z. Bernstein, criminal defense attorney

Whitney Bernstein

BKLW specializes in white-collar criminal defense and investigations, complex civil ligation, and bankruptcy and insolvency matters. The firm’s trial results include complete defense verdicts, favorable outcomes in criminal cases including zero restitution and no jail time, and multi-million dollar judgments and recoveries for plaintiffs, trustees, and creditors. In cases resolved short of trial, the firm has secured numerous dismissals in defense cases and adversary proceedings, and settlements in plaintiff cases totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars.