State Supreme Court upholds ruling in Jason Reeves case

By By Johnathan Manning / American Press

The state Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that public funds cannot be used to hire outside counsel for Jason Reeves.

Reeves, convicted of first-degree murder in 2004 for raping and killing 4-year-old Mary Jean Thigpen in 2001, is to be put

to death by lethal injection.

Reeves is represented by the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana.

Attorneys for Reeves, 38, attempted to hire Alan M. Freedman, an attorney with the Midwest Center for Justice in Evanston,

Ill., in June to serve as outside counsel.

Fourteenth Judicial District Court Judge Mike Canaday would not allow Freedman to enroll as counsel, saying Reeves does not

have a constitutional right to choose his own counsel, thus Freedman should not be paid with public funds.

Reeves’ attorneys took a writ to the Supreme Court, which denied the writ on Friday.

In June, Gary Clements, head of the Capital Post-Conviction Project, said Freedman was hired because the group was short of

attorneys.

Canaday said there were “inside mechanisms” to remedy the problem rather than using public funds to hire an outside attorney.

Prosecutor Carla Sigler said the Louisiana Supreme Court had ruled that defendants do not have a constitutional right to two

post-conviction attorneys.

Reeves, incarcerated in Angola State Penitentiary, was scheduled to be put to death Aug. 15, 2012, but was granted a stay

of execution as his attorneys sought post-conviction relief.

Reeves’ attorneys have requested a hearing to determine whether he is mentally disabled, which would prohibit the state from

executing him.

A date for the hearing has not been set.

Attorneys with the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana could not be reached for comment.