The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed itself and vacated its order to rehear a case of an Indiana police officer convicted of murder and arson.
A slim majority had granted Glenn Bradford’s petition for a rehearing en banc on his petition for habeas corpus. However, Judge Ann Claire Williams, who voted for the rehearing, recused herself after information came to light that indicated she was ineligible to vote on the petition.
Without Williams' vote, the majority required for a rehearing en banc was not there and the oral arguments scheduled for Nov. 30, 2016, were cancelled.
On Feb. 2, the 7th Circuit issued an order reinstating the panel’s affirmation of Bradford’s conviction in Glenn Patrick Bradford v. Richard Brown, superintendent, 15-3706.
Ronald Safer, Bradford’s attorney, called the order “excruciatingly painful.” His team is now planning to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States.
“I was tremendously hopeful that the 7th Circuit would take the case and listen to why Mr. Bradford was innocent because he is innocent,” Safer said. “It’s unbearable to think an innocent man could spend the rest of his life in jail if the (U.S.) Supreme Court does not take this case.”
Bradford, formerly an Evansville police officer, was convicted in 1993 of stabbing then setting fire to his mistress, Tamara Lohr. The prosecution argued that Bradford murdered Lohr during an hour in his police log for which he had no alibi and that he later set her on fire during a 65-second period between being spotted by a bank camera two blocks from Lohr’s home and calling the fire department.
In August 2016, a split 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his conviction. The majority found that Bradford failed to present reliable evidence establishing his innocence. However, Judge David Hamilton issued a 25-page dissent, arguing the state did not offer a plausible theory for why the fire could have done some much damage to Lohr’s bedroom in the short amount of time between when Bradford was accused of setting it then calling for help.
Hamilton, joined by Chief Judge Diane Wood and Judge Ilana Rovner, attached a statement to the Feb. 2 order, again raising his concerns about the conviction and the “unusually strong evidence” of Bradford’s innocence.
“The rules governing judicial impartiality and recusal are important protections for the integrity of the judiciary and our decision,” Hamilton wrote. “Our compliance with those rules can come at a cost, and sometimes a high cost. Perhaps the circumstances here might lead the Supreme Court to take a close look at the case, knowing that rehearing en banc was granted but then was vacated for reasons not related to the merits.”