In Texas, Two Freed Men Target Those Who Put Them Away


Thirteen years after being convicted of a killing they say they didn't commit--and three years after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals vacated their convictions--Jesus Ramirez and Alberto Sifuentes are back before a jury this week. This time around, though, the two men are on the offensive.

Ramirez and Sifuentes are plaintiffs in a civil rights case filed against a variety of individuals and entities that they blame for their wrongful convictions. The two men are represented in the matter, which went to trial Monday in Lubbock federal district court, by the same Haynes and Boone lawyers who helped free them from prison after 12 years.

The defendants in the case include Lamb County, Tx., prosecutor Mark Yarbrough, Lamb County, the City of Littlefield, Tx. a Littlefield police officer, and a Texas Ranger.

At issue are claims by Ramirez and Sifuentes--who were charged in the 1996 killing of a woman at a Littlefield convenience store--that their convictions and incarceration did not come simply as the result of a flawed investigation or incompetent prosecution, but were the products of a conspiracy hatched by authorities to secure a courtroom victory at the expense of justice.

In addition to seeking compensation and damages, the Mexican nationals state in their complaints that they aim to "prevent such misconduct from ever happening again."

The men are back in a Texas courtroom his week thanks in large part to the efforts of a Haynes and Boone team led by partner Barry McNeil, who agreed to represent the pair on appeal pro bono beginning in 2001.

Published in The American Lawyer, July 6, 2011. To read the full article, click here.

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