The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

A few words about the high-priced education of Marty Stroud.

Thirty-one years ago, A.M. “Marty” Stroud III was a prosecutor in Louisiana’s Caddo Parish. He was arrogant, narcissistic, judgmental, and full of himself. This assessment of Stroud’s character, you should know, comes from Stroud himself.

It is contained in a remarkable letter to the editor of the Shreveport Times regarding a 65-year-old black man named Glenn Ford whom Stroud tried for murder in 1984. When the all-white jury sentenced Ford to death, Stroud and his team went out drinking to celebrate. Meantime, Ford went to Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison.

Last year, he was set free. The current district attorney asked a judge to vacate Ford’s conviction and sentence in the wake of evidence that he was, as he had steadfastly maintained for over 30 years, innocent of the robbery and murder of Shreveport businessman Isadore Rozeman. The exact nature of that evidence has not been revealed, but that it is conclusive is attested to in the district attorney’s capitulation.

We do know this much: Officials are now said to believe another man did the killing. In a motion seeking Ford’s release, they say that if the state had known then what it knows now, “Glenn Ford might not even have been arrested or indicted for this offense.” Which seems pretty ironclad.

And yet, incredibly, Louisiana is fighting Ford’s request for compensation for his 30 lost years, a total that amounts to a relatively measly $330,000 under state law. One is reminded of Florida’s equally niggardly 2011 refusal to compensate Derrick Williams after railroading him into spending 18 years behind bars for a rape he didn’t commit.

But even if he wins, Ford is unlikely to ever enjoy the windfall; he has Stage 4 lung cancer — he says it went undiagnosed while he was at Angola — and doctors say he is unlikely to be alive by Thanksgiving. Ford wants to leave any monies he receives to his grandchildren. The state says he should receive nothing because he hasn’t proven himself “factually innocent.”

In a March 8 editorial, the Shreveport Times called that “hogwash.” In his letter, Stroud co-signed that judgment. But he went further.

There is insufficient space here to do justice to what he wrote. But you will find it — along with a remarkable video interview — at Suffice it to say, the man is eaten alive by remorse. He rebukes himself for multiple sins, for being too “passive” to follow up on evidence suggesting Ford’s innocence, for never considering the unfairness of striking black jurors from the panel that judged an indigent black man, for not caring that Ford was represented by “counsel who had never tried a criminal case, much less a capital one,” for placing “junk science” into evidence, for caring less about justice than about winning.

He apologizes to the jurors, to the court, to the family of the victim, and to Ford “for all the misery I have caused him and his family.”

And Stroud, now a 63-year-old attorney in private practice, also says this: “No one should be given the ability to impose a sentence of death in any criminal proceeding. We are simply incapable of devising a system that can fairly and impartially impose a sentence of death because we are all fallible human beings.”

Some of us consider that a self-evident truth. Yet learning that truth cost Stroud his good opinion of himself and 30 years of another man’s life.

His experience should serve as a warning to those who persist in believing the death penalty is justice. The death penalty, writes Stroud, is “an abomination.” The death penalty is “state-assisted revenge.” He didn’t always feel that way, but he has paid a high price for his education. And he will continue to pay. After all, Glenn Ford eventually walked free.

Marty Stroud never will.

(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL, 33132. Readers may contact him via email at

Photo: Ken Piorkowski via Flickr


Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Colbert Mocks Trump's Bad Toilet habits

Image via YouTube

The political world was rocked by the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump's Mar-A-Lago residence, perhaps prompted by reports that he had flushed classified intelligence documents down the toilet. Not surprisingly, Late Show host Stephen Colbert found this image laughable if alarming. (Over the weekend, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman had revealed photos from a White House source revealing scraps of paper at the bottom of a toilet bowl.)

“To be fair, it’s unclear if those are official White House documents or his toilet’s suicide note,” Colbert noted, although the papers did appear to have Trump’s Sharpie handwriting, as well as the name “Stefanik” written on them -- as in Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY).

Keep reading... Show less

Mehmet Oz

Youtube Screenshot

Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee for Senate in Pennsylvania, gave a confusing response about veterans' health care during an interview with a Pittsburgh radio station last week.

The station 90.5 WESA asked Oz about the PACT Act, which expands health care coverage for veterans exposed to toxins in the course of their service. The interview took place a few hours before recalcitrant Senate Republicans finally agreed to support the legislation.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ }}