|James William Bunch
Louisiana State Penitentiary
Angola, LA 70712
|DOB: September 15, 1954|
|James W. Bunch's case data|
|State and Parish||Louisiana, Orleans Parish|
|Crime||one count of first degree murder|
|Date of Crime||June 19, 1981|
|Date of Arrest||December 9, 1981|
|Date of Conviction||March 17, 1982|
|Sentence||Life at hard labor without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence|
|Age at the Date of Crime||26|
|Contributing Factors||Perjury, False Accusation, Official Misconduct|
|Did DNA evidence contribute to the conviction?||No|
|Is there DNA evidence to test?||No|
In 1981, James Bunch had been married for six years, was the father of a two-year-old son, self-employed, and without a criminal record. The following is Bunch’s story in his own words. It shows how quickly his life was turned upside down.
On June 19th, 1981, on Friday after I had completed my day of work, I stopped at the swinger’s lounge located at 3427 Louisa Street, New Orleans, Louisiana. I stopped at this location, because I knew men be there, when they are out of a job. I had my own construction company, so I stopped to find someone who needed a job. I made it to the location across the street from the lounge. I parked my truck into a lot and walked to the lounge.
As I proceeded into the parking lot, the two victims came out the door of the lounge into the parking lot, where the incident occurred. I was confronted by two armed men, who gave me reason to believe my life was in danger. Thereafter the shooting happened.
Six months later, I was arrested and indicted for first degree murder. On March 17th, 1982, a jury found me guilty as charged. My trial defense was that I acted in self-defense. I gave testimony to that effort as to what actually happened. I could not prove it, because the evidence that gave me reason to believe my life was in danger was withheld by the New Orleans Police Department (N.O.P.D.). That same police department is under investigation for multiple misconduct. Read the press release from the Justice Department here.
I was confronted by two (2) armed men (Tyronne Woodard and Phillip Joseph), who once worked for me. Words were passed on by both individuals and they gave me reason to believe that they both were armed with a weapon.
At that time I reached for my weapon and just as I was reaching for my weapon the victim had gone down to the ground behind a bench and got a gun that he had behind the bench. Just as he put his hand on it, I shot him once and as I shot him, the second victim had walked behind me fighting with his hand under his shirt like he was trying to get possession of a weapon, and I shot him, too. I then walked away from the scene and went to my house which was only about six (6) blocks away from the crime scene.
At trial, some so called eye-witnesses testifying for the state committed perjury making me look like a brutal killer. (See the testimonies, affidavits and the second victim’s recantation below!)
On December 9th, 1981, I was arrested for a false charge of pick pocket, taken to the central lock-up and charged with murder and attempted murder.
On December 17th, 1981, I was indicted for the crime of first degree murder.
On March 17th, 1982, in a trial by jury, I was found guilty as charged. I was sentenced to “life” in prison for the remainder of my natural life without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.
In October of 1995, I discovered that the State of Louisiana, i.e. the Orleans Parish criminal Distrtict Attorney’s office of Harry F. Connick of New Orleans, Louisiana, and his assistant David Plaunicky, willfully and intentionally withheld favorable material evidence from my trial defense counsel during trial.
I discovered that the State had recovered a weapon from the crime scene but never mentioned it or shared that crucial information. I sought for habeas relief in the federal court. Since the Brady material was a new claim, the State requested that the habeas petition be dismissed without prejudice. Case no: 95-1883, Sec. “T” (6). The U.S. Eastern District Court, District Judge G. Thomas Porteous, Jr. dismissed the application without prejudice on October 6th, 1995.
On May 14th, 1996, I filed with the trial court a motion for “newly discovered evidence” wherein I contended that the trial prosecutor withheld Brady material in violation of my right to due process of law under the United States and Louisiana Constitution.
Judge Ike Spears granted an evidentiary hearing. He also granted a new trial after he had determined that the State had violated the standard set forth under Brady v. Maryland.
On November 15th, 1995, Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gillie sought writ to the Louisiana Supreme Court in the State’s effort to have my conviction and sentence reinstated. Harry F. Connick’s office willfully, with intention and purpose, misrepresented the facts of the Brady claim by substituting a prior petition that had been reviewed and denied in the District Court and the Louisiana Supreme Court.
The petition used by the assistant district attorney was based upon new evidence in the form of witnesses’ testimony that was discovered a few days after my trial by defense. This was not Brady material and the state had no knowledge of the information these witnesses had sometime later. Phillip Joseph (one of the victims) notified a member of my family and confessed that he had lied at trial, and would tell the truth, if it helped. (See his recantation below!)
I was denied an opportunity to traverse the State’s contention in the State Supreme Court. My attorney during the hearing proceeding, Ms. Laurie White, forwarded the records that she had obtained from the State. Therein, she stated, she was no longer on my case and that I had 15 days to respond to the State’s writ application filed in the State Supreme Court on November 15th, 1995. However, I discovered that I was not supplied with a complete transcript record of the evidentiary hearing proceedings, at which time I filed a Motion To Stay the proceeding with the Supreme Court. Therein, I stated I could not properly respond, because the testimony of one Rita Moses was missing, that the assistant writ was an incomplete application for review. The State Supreme Court never replied, however, Assistant D.A. Kevin Gillie was advised to file a supplement brief to complete the hearing transcript.
The District Attorney’s Office clearly misled the Supreme Court by fraud in order to get that court to reverse the trial court ruling. The Supreme Court decision clearly stated:
“Bunch raised identical issues in an earlier application for post conviction relief, which this court denied.” Docket no: 96-KP-2761, June 20th, 1997.
I returned back to the federal eastern district court of Louisiana in December 1997. On February 10th, 1998, Chief Judge Morey L. Sear ordered that no magistrate thereafter this order shall rule on this case for any purpose. He assigned the case before Judge G. Thomas Porteous, Jr. (President Bill Clinton appointed Porteous in 1994; in 2010, the U.S. Senate convicted and removed him for taking bribes.): Case no: 97-3688, Sec. “T” (6).
Judge Porteous and the magistrate had knowledge of the disputed evidentiary facts concerning the criminal district attorney’s office and its assistant had withheld favorable exculpatory evidence which violated my constitutional right. Judge Porteous was fully aware of the fact that the District Attorney had withheld evidence recovered on the crime scene on June 19th, 1981.
The trial prosecutor told the jury in his closing argument that I had driven across the lake and had thrown away the murder weapon. Yet, in their opposition brief to my direct appeal to the Louisiana Supreme Court on August 2nd, 1982, District Attorney Harry F. Connick and his Assistant William R. Campbell, Jr. alleged that the murder weapon was recovered on the crime scene on June 19th, 1981. (Case no: 82-KA-1372)
The police found clear proof of self-defense. It is clear, an introduced gun at my trial recovered at the crime scene, which did not belong to me, would have told the jury that two (2) aggressors attacked me with a weapon, and that it would have justified self-defense in such a situation. It proves the weapon David Plaunicky withheld during trial although recovered at the crime scene was in fact one of the victims’ weapons. Therefore, the presence of the weapon recovered on the crime scene would have been very material to point to the jury’s verdict to a rightful case of self-defense. Without that evidence, I did not have a fair trial, or a proper defense, or a fair verdict from a jury.
Had the Louisiana Supreme Court been confronted with this fact, and not the fraud committed upon it by Assistant Kevin Gillie as District Attorney, the outcome would have been different. The District Attorney’s Office of Harry. F. Connick rightout told a lie to the State Supreme Court in their effort to overturn the trial court judge’s ruling order and granting me a new trial.
1996: Evidentiary Hearing
In 1996, the trial court granted a new trial after a full and fair evidentiary hearing. The judge determined that the trial prosecutor had violated the Brady v. Maryland doctrine. In essence, the trial court’s decision was never opposed in the Louisiana Supreme Court. The issue submitted into the Supreme Court by Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gillie has no concern as to whether Brady was violated to warrant the new trial granted by the trial court.
Testimony by Phillip Joseph (one of the victims) questioned by my defense attorney Laurie White:
Q: Were you holding a gun that day?
A: I had a gun.
Questioned by the Court:
Q: Mr. Joseph, I’m looking at this affidavit. You say in this affidavit that “James Bunch shot Mr. Woodard and me Phillip Joseph after we made an attempt to shoot him”, is this a correct statement?
A: Yes, that’s correct.
Case no: 286-606
The Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana ruled in State of Louisiana v. James Bunch, case number 96-KP-2761 on June 20, 1997:
“Writ granted; conviction and sentence reinstated. The district court erred in granting relief on the basis of the newly discovered evidence. First, the evidence would not warrant the granting of a new trial even if the sttandard of La.C.Cr.P. art. 851(3) applied. See State v. Chapman, 436 So.2d 729, 736 (La. 1984); State v. Clayton, 427 So.2d 827, 833 (La. 1982); cf. Herrera v. Collins, 506 U.S. 309, 113 S.Ct. 853, 862-63, 122L.Ed.2d 203 (1993). Second, Bunch raised identical issues in an earlier application for post-conviction relief which this Court denied. See La.C.Cr.P. art. 930.4(D); State ex rel. Bunch v. Whitley, 93-0193 (La. 11/29/94), 646 So.2d 395.”
How you can help
Share this article and go to the IIPPI News Forum for updates!
Donations can be made via JPay.com directly into James Bunch’s inmate account. See the detailed information on the website of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections at http://doc.louisiana.gov/communicate-with-offenderssend-money
James Bunch needs access to the police reports of his case, a defense attorney, and supporters.
Affidavits and Recantation (pdf, 6 pages)
Witnesses for the State, Lewis Joiner and Eddie Foley, perjured themselves. They were not outside of the lounge as they testified, and therefore, they did not see what they testified they saw. The State’s star witness and alleged victim Phillip Joseph has recanted his testimony.
Rita Moses’ Affidavit of Dec. 4, 1991
Phillip Joseph’s Recantation of Jun. 8, 1992
Shelton Cramford’s Affidavit of Jan. 28, 1992
compared to the “Statement of the Case” by the Supreme Court of Louisiana (Case No. 82-KA-1372)
A selection of post-conviction motions
Efforts to obtain the complete trial transcript (pdf, 4 pages)
Criminal District Court for the Parish of New Orleans (pdf, 19 pages)
Transcript of the Hearing
on September 10, 1996
Criminal District Court for the Parish of New Orleans (pdf, 29 pages)
Transcript of the Motion Hearing
as heard on September 27, 1996
before the Honorable Ike Spears, Judge presiding
United States District Court (pdf, 3 pages)
Eastern District of Louisiana
Court Order and Reasons
July 21, 1999
United States District Court (pdf, 14 pages)
Eastern District of Louisiana
Report and Recomendation
April 6, 2000
United States District Court (pdf, 3 pages)
Notice of Hearing
on May 24, 2000
Surpreme Court of the United States (pdf, 26 pages)
Motion for Leave to Proceed in Former Pauperis
March 22, 2005
United States Supreme Court (pdf, 10 pages)
Motion and Petition for Rehearing
June 14, 2005
Motion to Proceed and Show Cause for Second and Successive Writ of Habeas Corpus (pdf, 4 pages)
No: 06-30582, July 10, 2006