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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Innocent Former Death Row Inmate to Speak at Vermont Law School

Shabaka Shabaka WaQlimi, who spent 13 years on Florida’s death row before his wrongful conviction was overturned just 15 hours before his execution, will detail his experience and discuss the dangers of capital punishment during a Nov. 13 visit to Vermont Law School.

The program, “Witness to Innocence,” will begin at 7 p.m. and will be held in the Chase Community Center. It is sponsored by the VLS chapters of the National Lawyers Guild, the Black Law Students Association, the Latin American Law Students Association, the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, and Amnesty International (Burlington).

In 1974, Shabaka WaQlimi, known then as Joseph Green Brown, was convicted of rape and murder and sentenced to death. Thirteen years passed before his pro bono attorneys obtained a stay from the 11th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals.

VLS Professor Michael Mello, who wrote about the case in his 2002 book, “Deathwork: Representing the Condemned” (University of Minnesota Press) noted that Brown had eaten his “last meal” and had been measured for the suit he would have worn for his funeral before the Circuit overturned his conviction based on prosecutorial misconduct. The court found the prosecutor had knowingly allowed and exploited perjured testimony from the state’s star witness. [Mark Godsey]         

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