Contact: Cat Forrester
CatF@ip-no.org | 504.330.2111
IPNO Client Jarvis Ballard Is Innocent and Wins in the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal
CHALMETTE – For 23 years, IPNO client Jarvis Ballard has repeatedly proclaimed his innocence. On July 21, 2021, the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal is finally giving him a chance to show how the State developed him as a fictitious 3rd perpetrator in a 2-person crime.
Mr. Ballard was only 18 years old when he was wrongfully arrested for aggravated rape. Mr. Ballard was convicted of being the third perpetrator of a crime that was clearly committed by only two people: Sidney Williams and Ulysses Pierre. Their guilt was proven by DNA evidence and both men admitted to committing the crime. Mr. Ballard’s DNA was not found at the scene, and Mr. Williams and Mr. Pierre have stated that Mr. Ballard was nowhere near the crime and was not involved. The victim told law enforcement, on at least four different occasions, that there were two perpetrators. Other witnesses to the crime also only saw two perpetrators.
At trial, the State withheld the victim’s statements and other evidence demonstrating that the crime had been committed by only two people. By withholding these favorable, exculpatory evidence from Mr. Ballard, the State then presented a case at trial with a fictitious third perpetrator. The defense was unable to counter this fiction or prove the flaws in the investigation that led to this fiction because the defense lawyer at trial did not have access to police reports and witness accounts documenting that there were only two intruders.
In a 36-page opinion, the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal rebuked the district court for declining to hear Mr. Ballard’s claims supporting his innocence, stating “A district court must independently consider all of [Mr. Ballard’s] claims for post-conviction relief, not just those the State chooses to discuss or in the terms defined by the State.” The Fourth Circuit then ordered the district court in St. Bernard Parish to hold an evidentiary hearing to consider the evidence supporting Mr. Ballard’s innocence. Specifically, the Fourth Circuit focused on Mr. Ballard’s Brady claim, a “serious constitutional violation,” wherein favorable materials are withheld from the defense by the State. The Fourth Circuit found that “[d]espite…the State’s ongoing Brady obligation, [Mr. Ballard’s] trial counsel only received the initial police report and remained unaware of statements and other evidence in the State’s file highly indicative of the fact there were only two perpetrators (Williams and Pierre) involved in this crime.”
Mr. Ballard is represented by IPNO staff attorney Charell Arnold and legal director Richard Davis and investigator Jack Largess. Charell Arnold said, “The Fourth Circuit’s ruling is clear. We hope that the St. Bernard District Attorney’s Office and DA Perry Nicosia lead by example and admit the constitutional violations of the previous administration that caused an innocent man to be convicted of a crime he did not commit. Jarvis Ballard deserves to go home to his family.”
Founded in 2001, Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO) frees innocent people sentenced to life in prison in Louisiana and south Mississippi at no cost to them or their loved ones. IPNO also supports their living well and fully in their world and advocates for sensible criminal justice policies that reduce wrongful convictions.
References to our organization can be abbreviated to IPNO, but never to Innocence Project, the name of a completely separate project based in New York that works nationally, of which IPNO is not a chapter, affiliate nor branch.