The Main Stream

Apr 3, 2013 2:07 AM by Sean Mooney

Arizona Justice Project behind Louis Taylor's walk to freedom

Over the last week news of the release of the man convicted of setting the Pioneer Hotel fire that killed 29people has blanketed the media. For most people the announcement of Louis Taylor's plea deal was sudden but for the Arizona Justice Project, it was a decade's worth of work to set him free.

The Arizona Justice Project was established in 1998 created to help inmates overturn wrongful convictions. It involves all 3-state law colleges and started investigating Taylor's case 12 years ago.

Throughout the countdown to his release Louis Taylor was surrounded by lawyers from the Arizona Justice Project. They were at his side today when he finally was set free. AJP staff lawyer Andrew Hacker says it was a rewarding experience for a number of reasons, "Its good to finally see the culmination of all that work, and Louis (Taylor) sticking to his principals for all these years."

But according to Deputy County Attorney, Rick Unklesbay, there is still a great divide regarding justice in this case, "I don't think it was a miscarriage of justice, we had 12 jurors and a judge look at this case and a jury convicted Mr. Taylor based on that evidence"

Former Arizona Supreme Court Justice, Stanley Feldman, worked on the Taylor case pro-bono. He says he, along with 15 other lawyers, generations of law students and two investigators went through every shred of evidence, "I can't imagine a case where in which someone was convicted of a crime, a truly horrible crime on so little evidence"

Feldman said Taylor initially hedged on taking the plea deal. The Arizona Justice Project wanted to take the case to trial but fear of how long it would take and Taylor's desire to be free won out. Regardless Louis Taylor is one of the Arizona Justice Project's success stories.

The organization is currently involved in 35 other cases now in court or under review.

The Arizona Justice Project not only secured louis Taylor's freedom, they say they will continue to assist him, to help him find success in his new life...after a lifetime behind bars.

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