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June 11, 2007

Genarlow Wilson prevails in state habeas appeal

Good news for folks like me hoping that justice would prevail in the Genarlow Wilson case.  Here is the early report from the AP of today's major development in the case:

A judge on Monday voided a 10-year sentence for a man accused of having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17.  He instead gave Genarlow Wilson a 12-month misdemeanor sentence with credit for time already served.  The state is likely to appeal the ruling.

Wilson's original sentence, for aggravated child molestation, was widely criticized on the grounds it was grossly disproportionate to the crime, and state lawmakers later passed a law to close the loophole that led to the 10-year sentence. 

Wilson, now 21, has already served more than 27 months.  He could remain behind bars while the appeal proceeds.

I am not quite sure why (or even how) Wilson can remain incarcerated if he has now been given a sentence that has been fully served.  I suppose there may be a mechanism under state law for prosecutors to stay the sentence change ordered today, but I sure hope Wilson gets his release very soon.  He certainly does not seem like a flight risk or a danger to the community.

Related posts will background on the Wilson case:

June 11, 2007 at 12:20 PM | Permalink


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» You Gotta Know When To Hold 'Em... from The Debate Link
And when to fold 'em. In the case of the ill-advised prosecution of Genarlow Wilson, a then-17-year-old Black student with no criminal record sentenced to 10 years in prison for engaging in consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl, it's time to cl... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 11, 2007 2:24:58 PM

» Glenarlow Wilson wins state Habeas from a public defender
Glenarlow Wilsons  (previous coverage here) state petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus was granted today, on the grounds that his sentence was cruel and unusual (he was sentenced to 1o years and life-time sex offender registration... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 11, 2007 2:42:30 PM


It's been awhile since I read the details of this case; could you refresh my memory on one point?

I recall that the original charge was that the oral sex was non-consensual, either because of force or I think on the allegation that the girl was too drunk to consent. I don't recall exactly what the evidence was, but I recall a suggestion that the verdict was something of a compromise, the jury not being convinced entirely that the elements of the forcible assault were met, but still believing that the young man had at least taken advantage of a very, very intoxicated girl.

Did girl ever change her story and admit that the sex was consensual, or does she still maintain it was forced or alcohol-induced?

Posted by: PatHMV | Jun 11, 2007 12:31:11 PM

Funny, he was convicted under a valid law that has not been changed. Now this new judge decides to change what he was convicted of . . . .

Perhaps, there is some validity to the Eighth Amendment argument. But this conviction change seems a bit contrived

Posted by: federalist | Jun 11, 2007 12:46:18 PM

It will be interesting to see the opinion of the court in this case.

Posted by: ohwilleke | Jun 11, 2007 1:15:28 PM

Sorry, PatHMV but the law has been changed. The legislature was able to recognize that the law was not doing what it was meant to do and changed it so that if he were to engage in the same behavior today the most he could be charged with is a misdemeanor.

The fact that he would have only been charged with a misdemeanor if he had had intercourse with the girl rather than oral sex is another example of how draconian the law was in the first place.

Posted by: Tina Wolfe | Jun 11, 2007 2:00:00 PM

Hi, I am a mother with a son with the similar problem. My son at the time was 16 and the girl was 14. He was charged with one junivele account and 3 adult charges for sexual assault. But it was the girl who performed the acts 4 times. now we wait for court hearings and to see what the DA is going to do.

All I have to say is that I am glad it got overturned. What society doesnt understand that teenagers will be teenagers and that it is all aobut choices. I also bet that when these adults in charge of our laws where teenagers they were doing the same thing.

Posted by: Lynne | Jun 11, 2007 3:40:43 PM

What is wrong with prosecutors? They insist on pursuing convictions and plea bargains with people they know are not guilty. They insist on upholding convictions in the face of DNA evidence, other exculpatory evidence, witnesses recanting testimony, confessions of actual perpetrators, and, simply put, reason. They would rather have the person who actually committed a crime go free than admit making a mistake. Is justice simply not an important part of the criminal "justice" system any more? What ever happened to guilt and innocence, right and wrong? What ever happened to the truth? As an ordinary citizen who does not use drugs, obeys speed limits, doesn't shoplift, always pays my bills, and in general tries to live a law-abiding life, I always assumed I was in no danger of being charged with a crime. And certainly, if I were charged with something I hadn't done, I would be found innocent. Now I'm not so sure. In fact, I find myself actually worrying that someone could say I've done something and I'll be caught up in the legal system's clutches and wind up in prison. When the prosecutor comes with his deal, I don't know if I could be as brave as Genarlow Wilson and refuse it. Am I being paranoid?

I am a well-educated businesswoman who watched her best friend wrongfully convicted and sent to prison by a prosecutor who stated in his closing argument, "You don't need evidence to convict someone. You don't need any evidence at all!"

Posted by: disillusioned layman | Jun 13, 2007 2:32:10 PM

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