Wrongfully Convicted Man Released Thanks To “Spectacularly Incompetent” Lawyers

Martha Neil of  The ABA Journal reports:

Convicted and sentenced to life last month, LaDondrell Montgomery had insisted all along that he wasn’t the man identified by eyewitnesses to an armed robbery.

But a Texas jury didn’t believe him and found the 36-year-old guilty in the Harris County case. Yesterday, his conviction was reversed and State District Judge Mark Kent Ellis personally apologized to Montgomery, reports the Houston Chronicle.

A few days after he was sentenced, Montgomery’s attorney, Ronald Ray, who is also representing him in other pending robbery cases, took a close look at his client’s rap sheet and realized he was in jail at the time of the 2009 crime in which he had been convicted. Ray had asked Montgomery before trial where he was during the armed robbery, but he just didn’t remember, the newspaper explains.

“It boggles the mind that neither side knew about this during trial,” the judge said yesterday, blaming both the prosecution and the defense for not realizing earlier that Montgomery literally had an iron-clad alibi. “Both sides in this case were spectacularly incompetent.”

In order to avoid another Rakofsky-esque defamation lawsuit, here is the original quote from the article written by Brian Rogers of the Houston Chronicle, who reports:

State District Judge Mark Kent Ellis shook his head as he berated Ray and prosecutors for the oversight.

“It boggles the mind that neither side knew about this during trial,” Ellis said Thursday. “Both sides in this case were spectacularly incompetent.”

The judge personally apologized to Montgomery, who stood at the bench in an orange jail uniform.

I presume that neither criminal defense attorney Ronald Ray, nor Harris County Prosecutor Alison Baimbridge, will be pleased with the judge’s harsh assessment that they were “spectacularly competent”.

While Ray and Baimbridge each try to put a positive spin on this fiasco, the only good news is that an innocent man will not have to spend the rest of his life in prison protesting his innocence.

2 Responses to “Wrongfully Convicted Man Released Thanks To “Spectacularly Incompetent” Lawyers”

  1. Rick Horowitz Says:

    The title of this article struck me. Is it possible that Montgomery was also wrongly convicted because of at least one spectacularly-incompetent lawyer?

    I wonder if this means that it only takes one spectacularly-incompetent lawyer to convict someone, but it takes two spectacularly-incompetent lawyers to get one released?

  2. Antonin I. Pribetic Says:

    Thanks Rick. The headline was intentionally provocative. I suspect most incompetence does not rise to the level of spectacle. It is often mundane, run-of-the-mill, generic. In the Montgomery case, it appears that rather than intentional prosecutorial misconduct; both sides of the counsel table did Mr. Montgomery a shameful disservice.

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