BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Sister Helen Prejean and the son of a murder victim have filed lawsuits claiming that officials violated a law made by Gov. John Bel Edwards when they canceled clemency hearings for the inmates on death row.
Prejean and Brett Malone, whose mother was killed by a man sentenced to death in Louisiana and has been opposed to capital punishment because of his mother’s faith, filed the lawsuits Monday. They claim that the agreement the Board of Pardons made with prosecutors violated the state’s Open Meetings Law.
The settlement made the inmates who were originally scheduled for hearings in October and November ineligible for hearings. The Parole Board agreed to follow its rules and procedures moving forward which means that only five cases have an opportunity to be considered by the Board and the governor before he leaves office at the beginning of 2024.
In the suits, Prejean and Malone said the action made on Sept. 29 was done without public comment and ignored the directive Edwards made on August 9 to conduct hearings on 55 capital clemency applications. No copy of the settlement was released at the time, according to the suits.
Prejean and Malone are asking for a court to declare the actions taken at the board’s September 29 meeting, including entering into the Settlement Agreement, converting hearings into administrative reviews, and ignoring the governor’s directive, as void under La. R.S. § 42:26(A)(4) due to violations of the Open Meetings Law.