Waverly Two: Expedited Investigation of Wrongful Incarceration Needed Says NAACP

 The Virginia State Conference NAACP today sent a letter to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring
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RICHMOND - The Virginia State Conference NAACP today sent a letter to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring demanding justice in the decades-old case of the Commonwealth v. Ferrone Claiborne and the Commonwealth v. Terrence Jerome Richardson.

Mr. Claiborne and Mr. Richardson, referred to by the NAACP as the Waverly Two, were found not guilty of murder yet remain incarcerated for 24 years due to judicial misconduct during their state court proceedings.

“In 2016, Attorney General Herring asked the state Supreme Court to vacate the convictions of Keith Allen Harward, a white man who similarly was proven innocent of murder,” said Virginia NAACP Legal Redress Chair Attorney James Ghee. “The attorney general must follow his own precedent to do the same for Mr. Claiborne and Mr. Richardson, thus ensuring equal dispensation of justice.”

“Despite being found NOT guilty of murder in Federal Court, Terrence and Ferrone have been behind bars for 24 years due to judicial misconduct during their State Court proceedings,” explained Attorney Jarrett Adams who is representing Mr. Claiborne and Mr. Richardson. “There was no evidence, DNA or otherwise, in linking these two men to the murder including that the description given by the victim, Waverly Police Officer Allen Gibson, didn’t match my clients. The Federal Court has the power and authority to make this right. The previous administration under Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, did not wait on the creation of a Conviction Integrity Unit to do what is right. Neither should the current Attorney General of Virginia.”

Both men were improperly induced into entering state court pleas regarding the 1998 death of Officer Gibson in Waverly, Virginia. While Richardson and Claiborne are in federal prison for a narcotics conviction, their life sentences resulted directly from state court pleas due to the unusual, extreme, and unjust application of the federal sentencing guidelines for criminal history in their narcotics case. As their attorney, Adams has asked for the Sussex County Commonwealth Attorney’s support in moving the court to allow both men to withdraw their pleas. Attorney Adams sent a 25-page request to Attorney General Mark Herring asking the Attorney General to reinvestigate the case and join Adams’ Writ of Actual Innocence pending in the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Founded in 1935, the Virginia State Conference of NAACP Branches (Virginia NAACP) is the oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization in the Commonwealth, overseeing over 100 NAACP branches, youth councils, and college chapters. The Virginia NAACP is focused on being the preeminent voice of Black Virginians and advocating for policies and programs to benefit Blacks and people of color. You can read more about the Virginia NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas by visiting NAACPVA.org.

Jarrett M. Adams, a top criminal defense, civil rights attorney and philanthropist, is the author of the forthcoming book REDEEMING JUSTICE: From Defendant to Defender, My Fight for Equity on Both Sides of a Broken System (Convergent; September 14, 2021; $27) and co-founder of the nonprofit Life After Justice. In 2017, Adams launched the LAW OFFICES OF JARRETT ADAMS, PLLC. and practices in both federal and state court throughout the country. In his highly anticipated memoir, Adams talks about his fight towards exoneration after a wrongful conviction. The book follows the aftermath of reclaiming and rebuilding his life after justice, and his drive to help other exonerees do it too. He created Life After Justice, a 501(c)(3) as a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing wrongful convictions and building an ecosystem of support and empowerment for Exonerees’ as they rebuild their lives after exoneration. Adams earned his Juris Doctorate from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. He was awarded the National Defender Investigator Association Investigator of the Year award for his work with the clemency petition of Reynolds Wintersmith ultimately granted by President Obama. Visit Jarrett Adams Law for more information; follow on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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