C-Murder wants a new trial, and he's suing to get it. The imprisoned rapper's representatives announced via a press conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Wednesday that they've filed a federal suit against the state of Louisiana on C-Murder's behalf.
The president of a local chapter of the NAACP, Ernest Johnson, told reporters that the suit alleges that C-Murder, whose given name is Corey Miller, was denied his civil and constitutional rights when he lost his legal battle to overturn a second-degree murder conviction (see "C-Murder Loses Latest Legal Battle, Faces Life Sentence"). Johnson, who is also an attorney, complained that he had been denied access to Miller. "I will go back down there with an order from the court because we cannot allow this to happen in the state of Louisiana," he said.
While Johnson explained the lawsuit to reporters gathered at a Baton Rouge courthouse, fans wearing shirts reading "Free C-Murder" waved signs and chanted slogans like "Civil Action Now" and "Corey Deserves a Free Trial." Johnson said that the suit is based on the supposition that criminal defendants are not provided the same rights on appeal as civil defendants, and called it "discrimination." He also claimed that the state of Louisiana has "a disproportionate number of African-Americans who are incarcerated."
"The fact of the matter is Corey Miller was tried, found guilty and sentenced based on the testimony of witnesses who admittedly perjured themselves," the rapper's attorney Ron Rakosky said in a statement. "There is no physical evidence in this case. We requested a new trial. A judge reviewed the case finding countless legal errors, and in the interest of justice, she ordered a new trial, ultimately overturning his conviction. Even though this judge acted properly, the Appellate Court is still denying Miller a new trial, which has never been done before in the history of Louisiana law."
"We're going to bring these injustices out," Johnson told reporters during the press conference. "We're going to fight this all the way to the Supreme Court if we have to. We need to either fix it ourselves or bring national attention to Louisiana's problems. [C-Murder] wants to make a change and we're willing to stand with him."
"I am not asking for any special treatment or favors," the rapper said in a statement. "I just want what is due to me, a fair and impartial trial. I am not a murderer."
C-Murder was placed in the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in Gretna, Louisiana, after being convicted September 30, 2003, in the death of 16-year-old Steve Thomas. The rapper, who faces a mandatory life sentence with no possibility of parole, also announced that he's changed his stage name to C Miller, "in hopes that I can finally receive justice."
The rapper was previously indicted on attempted second-degree murder charges in an unrelated case from 2001, in which he's accused of attempting to shoot a Baton Rouge nightclub owner. He faces a maximum sentence of 50 years if convicted in that case (see "Rapper C-Murder Indicted On Attempted Second-Degree Murder Charges").