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Judge James J. Brady, Senior Federal Judge for the Middle District of Louisiana, left, greets Albert Woodfox, right, a member of the Angola 3 who was released in February after decades in solitary confinement, after he spoke at the Southern University Law Center Monday Oct. 3, 2016.

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG

What a sad day to read the announcement that Judge James Brady had passed away. My sister and I were standing only a few feet away when the photograph accompanying your article was taken. That was the day, to our surprise, we would have the honor of meeting Brady on Oct. 3, 2016. He and his wife had come to hear Albert Woodfox speak at Southern University. The crowd did not even seem to realize that Judge Brady had slipped in until nearly the end of the program, when the moderator announced how pleased she was that the senior federal judge for the Middle District of Louisiana was able to join us. She asked Judge Brady to stand, and every head quickly turned to the back of the room to see the rise of his towering figure.

The moderator thanked him for taking time out of his busy schedule to be with us.

As the program ended and Judge Brady moved through the room, it was obvious to all of those present that it was a day he wouldn't have missed for the world. He seemed happy and relaxed and was enjoying being there. There was a confidence on his face that seemed to say, "This is why I became a judge." 

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I said earlier this would be the day that my sister and I would meet Judge Brady, but our introduction through letters, had begun 17 months earlier in May 2015. The injustice that Brady had discovered in Woodfox's case would be the same that I would come to discover. Jurors are the foundation of our criminal justice system,and I was one of those jurors. After my service I would discover evidence that I felt cleared Woodfox. I felt it my duty to come forward, and with my twin sister Donna's help and her strength, we began a letter campaign. Brady was the recipient of several of those letters. I described to him the utter heartbreak to the juror of an unjust verdict.

Our experience leads us to call upon members of the Louisiana Legislature to create a juror's handbook for Louisiana citizens who are summoned to jury service. In these current times of seeing the need for more training in many areas of society, it is the fundamental right of a juror to completely understand his or her role. Your article mentioned Judge Brady was active in the Democratic Party. We are lifelong conservatives. Justice and fairness can and should rise above politics.

To Judge Brady's family, we would like to say that we are only two of many that Judge Brady's principles and decisions touched, and we say thank you.

Deidre Howard

dental hygienist

St. Francisville

Donna Howard Kennon


Baton Rouge