Justice Nearing in Freeman Case
Fredrick Freeman may finally soon be a free man after 31 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Several new developments bode well for him:Freeman’s successive habeas is now before Senior Judge William O. Bertelsman of the United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky. In her original habeas in 2008, Chief Federal Judge Denise Page Hood of the Eastern District of Michigan ruled that Freeman’s conviction was abetted by prosecutor misconduct and that he was innocent and should be freed or granted a new trial. (Hood’s decision was later overruled by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on procedural technicalities). There are now reasons to believe that this second habeas appeal will be successful, especially since the Sixth Circuit, in granting the new habeas, stated that Freeman made “. . . prima facie showing of a constitutional violation . . .”. That Court also stated that, but for the highly suggestive line-up photos used to falsely identify Freeman, “. . .no reasonable fact-finder would have found him guilty. . .”, especially because nine alibi witnesses placed him hundreds of miles from the crime scene around the time of the murder.
CBS News/48 Hours is planning a special program on Freeman’s wrongful conviction. This should put a bright public spotlight on this incredible miscarriage of justice, which has given Michigan’s criminal justice system a “black eye”, and increase pressure for righting this wrong.
Besides representing Freeman in his successive habeas, the Michigan Innocence Clinic of the University of Michigan’s Law School is submitting a pardon application to Governor Rick Snyder. After reviewing the abundant evidence of actual innocence there is optimism that the Governor will do the right thing and grant a pardon. This application is being done knowing that the judicial process can be incredibly slow and uncertain and that executive action may be a quicker way to free an innocent man who has already spent close to lifetime in prison.