Yes! I screamed. I threw the phone down, danced in place, jumped up and
down, smacked my
desk as hard as I could, and yelped some more. Some coworkers came by office
to see if I was OK.
I was more than OK. We now could prove that Dewayne made the call fro
Harris County Judges were calling for the law to be changed. In-depth articles
were written about
how cozy and subject to cronyism the pick-a-pal system was. One article
detailed the grand jury
service of Patricia Pollard, who was photographed in
The hearing took less than five minutes. Six years after I started working on the
case, Dewayne had
a new trial and a real shot at freedom.
The Sheriff led Dewayne out of the courtroom and we departed, still in
disbelief. We left the
courthouse, piled int
changed the course of Dewaynes case and may have far-reaching implications
for the Texas criminal
justice system and the way in which grand jurors are selected in the state.
The first was titled A Disturbing Glimpse into the Texas Grand jury System,
said he thought he could. He said he went with pure emotion at the press
conference, and he spoke
from his heart. I told him I was proud of him, and I couldnt wait to see him the
next morning. I told
him not to leave Houston, and he laughed. For you, I wi
The reform I propose is not novel. Maryland had such a law until it repealed the
altogether in 2013. It required the state provide evidence of one of the following
in death penalty
cases: (1) biological evidence or DNA evidence that links th
always, Abolish the death penalty. When they laugh and say that will never
happen, I say that that is
the only way to prevent the execution of innocent people. And I dont agree with
them when they say it
will never happen, because I think it will.
where we first saw him. We packed his things. All he had to his name was a
small brown lunch bag
from the jail with his name on it, a few shirts that he got the night before from
Walmart, two pairs of
jeans, and a small plastic bag with socks and underwea
weekend. He knew Dewaynes story and he had read Lisas article. Instead of
giving a traditional
sermon, he wanted to have a conversation with me about the case. His theme in
the conversation was
to do right and to answer Gods call when He called, whether i
with perjury anyway. And he never turned the records over to the defense
This fact alone would be grounds for a new trial. Rizzo had sworn he didnt
have the landline
records. He had signed an affidavit in response to our original writ stating, I
defend indigent people accused of capital crimes. I am on a list of courtapproved counsel in federal
court in Maryland and Washington D.C. who can take court-appointed criminal
cases. I take every
referral I get very seriously. But after Dewaynes case, it
like her mother.
Exactly, I said. That night I prayed over and over again in thanks for the turn of
We were lucky. Officer McDaniel hadnt pitched that box in the trash after all
those years. His house
didnt have a flood. Or a fire. His district at
Before I returned to Washington, I went back to the jail to see Dewayne one
more time. We met in
the attorney conference room with that familiar pane of thick glass between us.
How you doing, man? I asked.
Real good, man, real good, he said from the other
good and just what I needed, and I thought about how our collective service to
Dewayne was one step
closer to freedom.
Ironically, I wound up happy that the appellate court had taken its sweet time,
because they gave
Lisa Falkenberg time to expose the who
I love you, too, man. He got into a car with his cousins and went to go see his
ninety-two-yearold grandmother for the first time in over a decade. He couldnt
wait to hug her.
We drove back to Houston. I slept most of the way and woke up in the
Dewaynes case would be assigned to a new prosecutor once Judge Ellis agreed
to it at a hearing on
May 28 and once the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with it as well. I hung
up, jumped up and
down a few times, and danced some more. I ran up to a tree and
golf course, not a courtroom.
Any action to hold Rizzo accountable would be an important symbolic event
and might finally put
enough fear in the District Attorneys Office to follow the rules and play fair.
That is unlikely to
happen. Rizzo has since retir
tree-lined park. I thought of Dewayne and the six-by-ten-foot cell. I got really
mad, but then instantly
peaceful based on what I was about to go do and how close we were.
Two days later, I met Casey on the fourteenth floor of the Criminal Justice
newer version of the VAnear the airport.
Then I saw him. I saw Dewayne. I ran up to him and hugged him and he lifted
me up. I hugged him
so tight, I didnt want to let him go. I held his head and said, I told you, man, I
told you this day
would come. He la
Mr. Brown, Im meaning what I say. We will give you the trial
that you deserve.
Do right and answer Gods call.
Not long after that we found out that Jesse Coleman (a.k.a. Smooth), the
author of the E.W. letter
that initially sent us on the path to trying t
he told me John Legend, Anthony Hamilton, and 50 Cent. I told him that I loved
50 as well, and asked
him if he ever heard Hate it or Love it, the song that 50 did with The Game.
He knew the song and
liked it. I told him it was his theme song, and I sang t
I went in an innocent man and I came out an innocent man, Dewayne told
reporters when he
emerged. Im pretty sure theres many more like me.
He said he had no bitterness. He said that they [the state] did what they felt was
right. Even though
it was wrong.
for the blessing of working on the case. I sat for a few more minutes, stood up
and lit a candle, and
drove home. It was time.
I went in an innocent man and I came out an innocent man.
On New Years Eve 2014, my family sat and watched t
proceeding consistent with this opinion. This size opinion could have been
written in a few days
after the Court got the case, but it took much longer.
The Court waited seventeen months to make this decision. Five hundred
and ten days. Judge Ellis
Would it be better to literally just clear the decks and start
A second flaw in American death penalty jurisprudence was revealed during an
October 2012 hearing
about Dewaynes intellectual disability. While hearing our arguments, Judge
known in the defense bar in Houston. She was Anthony Gravess attorney when
he was released. Her
investigator called her a piranha, and that was exactly what we needed.
Dewayne was in good hands.
Then it happened. I was driving when I got a text from Lisa
defendant on actual innocence. In this case, even though Devon Anderson did
the right thing by
dismissing the charges, and Dewayne is actually innocent, for political reasons
she will not file such
an affidavit. This means that Dewayne may have to wage an
Dewaynes case until after the election in November. You could just picture
some campaign manager
sitting in a room, saying, You cant give that guy a new trial now, he was
convicted of shooting a
police officer. Your opponents will be all over that! And th
The CCA announced its decisions every Wednesday. At first I hoped each week
that I would soon
hear the good news. Summer became fall, and fall became winter. I stopped
getting excited about
going to work on Wednesdays and just woke up mad. Casey would tex
different judgment about whether Dewayne participated in the murders. Ericka
Dockery might not
have felt compelled to change her testimony. Muldrow was aware of the issue.
Early on in the case,
Bethany had asked her about the phone records. Muldrow replie