James Ford Seale –Round Two on the Statute of Limitations Issue
The federal appellate process can be long and tangled. On March 13 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed James Ford Seale’s 2007 conviction in the kidnapping of two black youths in Southwest Mississippi in 1964. Earlier a three-judge panel of the Court had reversed the conviction on the grounds that the prosecution violated the statute of limitations. The full eighteen-member Court heard the matter last spring and split 9 to 9 on the reversal, which had the effect of reinstating the earlier conviction. The 5th Circuit then asked the Supreme Court to exercise special jurisdiction and hear the statute of limitations issue. In October, the Supreme Court declined to hear the issue, with Justice Stevens and Scalia vigorously dissenting.
The matter was remanded to the three-judge panel to hear the other issues initially raised on appeal. It was denial of this appeal that occurred on March 13. It’s not over yet: the defense will now go back to the Supreme Court on the statute of limitations and the other issues. The odds are long that the Court will take it next fall, given that two justices have already expressed their desire to hear it. If the Court accepts the case in the fall, it will probably be argued in January and a decision issued sometime next spring or summer.
Meanwhile, James Ford Seale sits in his cell in the federal pen in Terra Haute, Indiana, alive but apparently not well.