FAIRBANKS, Alaska - With the recent ruling from Federal Judge Holland denying their case, the Fairbanks Four now seek to appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Federal Judge H. Russel Holland ruled against the Fairbanks Four's case to pursue their civil suit against the City of Fairbanks for wrongful imprisonment due to false evidence.
Mike Kramer represents Marvin Roberts and Eugene Vent in this case and says they plan on appealing to the Ninth Circuit Court because they believe Judge Holland's decision only focused on one out of three important aspects in the case. One element of the case states the agreement offered to the four men was signed under coercion. Kramer says after the trial that proved the four innocent, the presiding judge would take six to eight months to deliver his ruling. During this time, three of the four men would remain in jail.
"The prosecutors came to the Fairbanks Four with a deal, they said, 'You don't sue us and we will let you out of jail today.' And that was of course a deal that was pretty hard to pass up for guys who had been sitting in jail and maintaining their innocence for 18 years, and it was a week before Christmas so lots of factors were at play," Kramer said.
If they continue, the process of appealing to the Ninth Circuit Court could take up to two years. Matt Singer represents the City of Fairbanks and he says federal law requires a plaintiff to prove their innocence in the criminal case.
"And that is called the favorable termination rule, and the Fairbanks Four never proved their innocence in the criminal case. That case was settled so there was no acquittal, no reversal on appeal, nothing that established conclusively their innocence," he said.
The Fairbanks Four have 30 days from Judge Holland's ruling to file their appeal and plan to do so immediately.