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Reginald Adams lifting arms to the sky as he celebrates his exoneration.
Reginald Adams shown walking out of a criminal courthouse in 2014, exonerated after being wrongfully imprisoned for 34 years. Image courtesy of NOLA.com / The Times-Picayune.

Wrongfully imprisoned New Orleans man Reginald Adams will receive a $1.25 million settlement after exculpatory evidence cleared him of a murder conviction.

Adams spent 34 years behind bars for the killing of a New Orleans Police Department officer’s wife. He was freed in 2014 after information came to light revealing his conviction was largely based on false testimony, suppressed evidence, and a coerced confession.

A settlement resulting from a suit brought forward by Adams was approved on June 8th, but was kept confidential as one of the agreement’s conditions.

Two Louisiana media outlets – The Times-Picayune and Capital City Press – filed a joint motion requesting that U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan lift the veil of confidentiality shrouding the settlement’s terms.

The Times-Picayune and Capital City Press argued that the matter shouldn’t have been shielded from public view without a hearing demonstrating ‘compelling interest’ to do so.

According to the Times-Picayune, the ‘media filing challenged the decision on First Amendment and federal common law grounds, and claimed the court’s order would prevent the City and District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office from complying with a state law that allows members of the public to inspect public records.’

Although Cannizzaro decried Adams’ treatment by law enforcement and prosecutors alike, his office was still implicated in the federal lawsuit filed by Reginald in 2015.

Reginald Adams shown with his mother. Adams was convicted of first-degree murder and then, at a retrial, second-degree murder. His conviction was based largely on falsified testimony from New Orleans detectives. Image courtesy of Matthew Hinton, The Advocate.

The complaint acknowledged that Cannizzaro hadn’t been ‘directly involved’ in Adams’ prosecution, but nonetheless ‘presided over an office in which “the general practice of withholding exculpatory evidence and failing to appropriately train was so common and well established” it contributed to Adams not winning his release until 2014.’

Now 64, Reginald Adams spent 34 years behind bars in Louisiana State Penitentiary for the killing of Cathy Ulfers. Convicted of first-degree murder in 1983, Adams won a brief reprieve from the state Supreme Court.

A retrial in 1990 won Louisiana a conviction for second-degree murder, which left Adams imprisoned for another 24 years.

Information was later released implicating New Orleans detectives in coercing a confession from Reginald Adams. The officers allegedly plied him with alcohol and Valium, urging him to admit to a crime he didn’t commit.

Some of the information included in Reginald Adams’ confession was purportedly inconsistent with physical evidence collected from the crime scene, according to the Times-Picayune.

Sources

City taxpayers owe $1.25 million in New Orleans’ settlement with wrongly imprisoned Reginald Adams

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