OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Just days before Julius Jones’ commutation case is set to be heard in front of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater sent a new letter to one of the board members.
In it, he accuses Adam Luck of showing personal bias in a series of tweets dating back to 2019.
Luck retweeted one of Jones’ most high-profile supporters, Kim Kardashian West.
In the tweet, Kardashian asks her followers to “please help” and directs them to the website, justiceforjulius.com, a site dedicated to Jones’ innocence and support for his release.
Luck retweeted the tweet with quotes of his own, in which he explains the process of Jones’ commutation application and the hearing.
He also expressed, “I do not speak on behalf of the board or the governor.”
Prater claims the tweets “unmistakably give rise to the appearance impropriety, if not outright impartiality.”
Prater also lists laws and regulations applying to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, but local attorney Ed Blau says legally, his argument is very much open for interpretation.
“This comes down more to a moral issue or within the Pardon and Parole Board’s ethical consideration as to whether or not he should stay and hear this case,” said Blau.
Jones’ case is high-profile and has been seen by millions.
He’s convicted of the 1999 murder of Edmond man Paul Howell, but Jones has maintained his own innocence.
His hearing before the Pardon and Parole Board Monday is historic because Jones will become the first death row inmate to have his case heard by the board.
Blau says because of the nature of the case, it would be difficult for any of the board members to be without bias.
“Pardon and Parole Board members are human beings and some come from law enforcement backgrounds, some come from public interest backgrounds, some come from defense backgrounds and on any case, there could be some sort of bias alleged,” said Blau.
If Luck refuses to recuse himself, Blau says there may not be much legal action Prater can take.
“Unless there is a law or statute directly on point, the answer is no,” said Blau.
Luck was appointed to the Pardon and Parole Board by Gov. Kevin Stitt in 2019. KFOR reached out to the Governor’s office for comment.
“Governor Stitt is aware of the letter from District Attorney Prater and does not have a role to play in the recusal process of this constitutional board,” the governor’s office said in a statement.
Julius Jones’ defense attorney, Dale Baich, gave KFOR the following statement in response to the letter from Prater:
“The District Attorney, in a desperate move, is attempting to deny Julius due process and a full and fair commutation hearing by demanding that a board member recuse himself for simply providing information to the public about the process that the board follows in clemency cases.
The board’s vote on Monday is a vote on whether or not to take a serious look at Julius’ case in a longer and more thorough hearing. Given that there is new and compelling evidence that he is innocent, this is the only reasonable decision in front of them. The fact that the district attorney is willing to go to such lengths to tamper with this process and deny Julius a fair hearing is deeply disturbing.”
Attorney Dale Baich
KFOR also reached out to Pardon and Parole Board member, Adam Luck, who has not yet returned our requests for comment.
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