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Capital Appeals Attorney Sentenced to Prison for Theft

by David M. Reutter

Former Louisiana death penalty defense attorney Jelpi Picou, 49, was sentenced on August 23, 2010 to five years in prison for stealing over $200,000 from a publicly-funded agency he had directed since 2004.

Picou was sentenced by Orleans Parish Criminal Court Judge Robin Pittman for five counts of theft. Over the years that Picou headed the Capital Appeals Project, which represents the poorest prisoners on Louisiana’s death row, he continuously stole from the organization.

When state officials came to inspect the financial records that Picou maintained for the Capital Appeals Project in November 2009, he resigned. Rather than face disciplinary proceedings, Picou surrendered his law license. As part of his sentence he also was ordered to pay full restitution to the Capital Appeals Project.

In 2008, Picou represented a death row prisoner who won a reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court of his death sentence for raping a child. That ruling declared capital punishment unconstitutional for child rapists. See: Kennedy v. Louisiana, 554 U.S. 407 (2008) [PLN, Nov. 2008, p.42].

Source: Times Picayune

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