Ninth Circuit Victory for the Fairbanks Four in Wrongful Conviction Case

Posted by Tiffany Cartwright

On Wednesday, January 22, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of a civil rights lawsuit brought against the City of Fairbanks, Alaska and the Fairbanks Police Department on behalf of the "Fairbanks Four," a group of Alaska Native/Native American men who each spent 17 years in prison for the murder of a white teenager that they did not commit.  MHB attorneys Tiffany Cartwright and Jeff Taren represent two of the men, George Frese and Kevin Pease.

The City of Fairbanks had argued that the men were barred from bringing a civil suit because their convictions were vacated pursuant to a settlement agreement with the State of Alaska rather than after a determination from the court.  The Ninth Circuit rejected that argument, holding that there are no outstanding criminal judgments against the men that would bar their civil rights action. 

The decision allows the case to return to the federal district court for the judge to hear evidence regarding the validity of the settlement agreement, which required the men to give up their civil rights claims against the City of Fairbanks and its police officers in exchange for their release from prison. MHB looks forward to continuing to fight for justice for these deserving clients and to hold the Fairbanks police accountable for their violations of the U.S. Constitution that led to years in prison for four innocent men.

Read more about the case in the Anchorage Daily News and Courthouse News.

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