After nearly three decades behind bars, Patrick Brown, a man wrongfully convicted of aggravated rape, was finally released from prison on May 8.
The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office requested the vacating of his conviction, acknowledging that Brown had been wrongly accused.
This case sheds light on the long-standing issue of evidence suppression by the New Orleans DA’s office, which has faced allegations of misconduct in securing convictions.
District Attorney Jason Williams, who assumed office in 2021, expressed his commitment to justice and accountability. He emphasized the importance of rectifying wrongful convictions to ensure the safety of the community.
Williams stated, “When someone is wrongfully convicted, not only is it an injustice for the person who has years of their life stolen, but it is an injustice for the victim and the people of New Orleans because the real perpetrator is left to harm others.”
Brown’s conviction in 1994 relied on hearsay testimony and questionable medical evidence, as his stepdaughter, the alleged victim, was unable to testify due to a medical issue during the trial. Astonishingly, handwritten notes discovered in the DA’s files indicated that prosecutors were aware of another family member’s confession to the crime.
Throughout the years, the stepdaughter consistently maintained Brown’s innocence and reached out to prosecutors and court officials to no avail.
It wasn’t until Williams assumed his position as district attorney that an investigation was initiated by the civil rights division of the office. The survivor’s persistence ultimately led to the case’s review and Brown’s eventual release.
The emotional scene unfolded in the courtroom as Judge Calvin Johnson signed the order to release Brown.
Overwhelmed with relief, the survivor collapsed to her knees, and she and Brown shared a heartfelt embrace. Brown expressed remorse, apologizing to the survivor and acknowledging his failure as a father.
The case of Patrick Brown highlights the need for reform in the criminal justice system, ensuring that justice is served, the innocent are protected, and survivors’ voices are heard and respected.