Man Freed From Prison After Thirty Years, with Help of Willkie Farr Attorneys and Innocence Project
Download PDF
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Through the Innocence Project, a pair of attorneys with Willkie Farr & Gallagher, Thomas Golden and Jeanna Composti, enabled a man wrongfully convicted of rape thirty years ago be set free just last week.

In 1981, Henry James was convicted raping a next-door neighbor at knifepoint, and imprisoned in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. On the date of his release, James had been imprisoned longer than any of the other eleven wrongfully convicted Louisiana prisoners to be exonerated with the aid of DNA evidence, according to the October 26th amlawdaily, “Willkie Farr Duo Helps Exonerate Louisiana Man After 30 Years in Prison”.


Golden is a New York–based litigation partner litigation, and Composti an associate in the firm’s New York office, who had worked with the Innocence Project as a Cornell Law School student

James testified at his trial, along with three witnesses to corroborate his alibi that he was asleep during the rape. The Innocence Project said James’ trial lawyer neglected to tell jurors that bodily fluid testing had excluded James as the attacker.

After exhausting his appeals, James wrote to The Innocence Project asking for help. When his new lawyers sought to perform DNA tests on evidence from the rape kit in the case, the Jefferson Parish crime laboratory at first was unable to find any. However, a lab worker found a slide from James’ case in May 2010 while looking for evidence in a different case.

Get JD Journal in Your Mail

Subscribe to our FREE daily news alerts and get the latest updates on the most happening events in the legal, business, and celebrity world. You also get your daily dose of humor and entertainment!!

Last month, a final report on the results of court-ordered DNA tests verified James was not the rapist.

Innocence Project attorney Vanessa Potkin was quoted as saying in the October 21st Google.com article, “Cleared man freed from La. prison after 30 years”: “It is an actual miracle that Henry James is here today. It was a miracle that his evidence was found.”

Golden was quoted as saying in the amlawdaily.com article: “I was really struck by the fact that innocent people get convicted all the time. Jurors misunderstand the importance of eyewitness identifications, scientific methods are not always followed. If there’s evidence out there that would exonerate a defendant and identify the actual perpetrator, then we as lawyers ought to pursue every avenue to make sure that evidence gets tested.”

Golden continued: “I really thought that the basic facts regarding his conviction did not add up. Jeanna and I traveled down to Angola and met with him and it solidified my view that he was innocent.”

James plans to live with his daughter, who was just three years old when he went to prison. He also plans to use the woodworking skills he learned while in prison to find work.

According to information at the organization’s website, the Innocence Project is a non-profit legal clinic affiliated with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University and created by Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld in 1992. It is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.

The Innocence Project has to date been able to set 274 wrongfully convicted people since 1989.

Founded in 1888, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP is an international law firm with nearly 600 attorneys in eight offices in six countries.


Interesting Legal Sites You May Like




Search Now

Mid-level Tax Associate Attorney

USA-CA-Los Angeles

Los Angeles office of an AmLaw firm seeks mid-level tax associate attorney with 3-5 years of experie...

Apply Now

Real Estate/Transactional Attorney

USA-PA-Camp Hill

Camp Hill office of our client seeks real estate/transactional attorney with experience. The candida...

Apply Now

Corporate Attorney


Laramie office of our client seeks corporate attorney with 2+ years of experience.

Apply Now


Legal Assistant - Estate Planning / Tax

USA-NC-Winston Salem

Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, seeks an experienced Corporate Legal Assistant to join its Winston-Sa...

Apply now

Contract Attorney



Apply now

Immigration Paralegal

USA-FL-Miami Gardens

$38,000 - $42,000 a year Prepare tables of contents with supporting evidence, fill out legal f...

Apply now

Commercial Litigation and Insurance Defense Associate Attorney

USA-FL-Fort Lauderdale

Kim Vaughan Lerner, a downtown Fort Lauderdale firm practicing in the areas of commercial litigation...

Apply now


To Top