On Tuesday, Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams announced that prosecutors have reached a settlement in the civil rights lawsuit with Robert Jones, who was wrongfully convicted for crimes in 1992 and 1996.
According to the Associated Press, Williams said that Jones will receive $2 million over the course of six years. The settlement was reached after New Orleans prosecutors weighed the risks of an expensive three to four week trial and the possibility of Jones winning even more money.
Jones spent 23 years in prison for charges including rape, robbery, kidnapping and manslaughter. According to its announcement of Jones’ exoneration back in 2017, the Innocence Project said its attorneys found that there was no evidence connecting Jones with any of the crimes even though his lawyer advised him to plead guilty. It was also discovered that prosecutors somehow lost exculpatory DNA evidence and inappropriately pushed a witness to come forward.
The Innocence Project partnered with the law firms Covington & Burling LLP and Jones Walker LLP to file the civil rights lawsuit on Jones’ behalf back in 2018, one year after his exoneration. The suit accused then-prosecutors of violating Jones’ rights in order to get a conviction.
According to AP, the civil rights lawsuit also brought about the creation of policies meant to help keep innocent people out of prison.
A state appeal court vacated the convictions in 2014 because prosecutors under former District Attorney Harry Connick, who retired in 2003, never gave defense lawyers some favorable evidence. Williams said he and Jones’ attorneys worked out policies to ensure that defense lawyers get such evidence.
“I welcome this measure of justice after so many years,” Jones said, reported by AP, in a statement released by his attorneys.
Jones is now 48 years old and the community outreach director for Orleans Public Defenders.
He was only 19 when first accused of these crimes.