The greatest miscarriage of justice happens when a supposedly self-correcting system fails to correct itself. Alan Sudduth was convicted as a juvenile for murder in 1995 and sentenced to 70 years in prison on a plea deal. The problem is that Sudduth didn’t actually kill anyone and someone else has repeatedly confessed to the murder.
According to Westword, the Colorado State Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that Sudduth waited too long before filing his appeal based on ineffective counsel. Sudduth’s attorney, Alison Ruttenberg, is appealing to the state supreme court. While the Court of Appeals may be technically correct according to the law, they have utterly failed to recognize the injustice that has been done.
As a general rule, there is no statute of limitations on filing murder charges and there should be no statute of limitations on overturning a wrongful conviction. The Arapahoe County District Attorney in 1995 knowingly filed adult charges against Sudduth when the preponderance of evidence pointed to someone else. Sudduth was too young and too naive to understand the gravity of the decisions his attorneys were making on his behalf. The reason we have court appointed attorneys is to protect defendants against their own ignorance of the law. If they fail to effectively and faithfully represent the interests of their client, the system fails. No judge should ever condone that–whether it fits on their calendar or not.
Sudduth deserves parole.