Nevada Attorney General Seeks to Needlessly Endanger Elderly, Mentally Ill Exoneree

AG Aaron Ford’s Office insists that the nation’s longest wrongfully-imprisoned woman must testify in person despite pandemic

Cathy Woods was wrongfully imprisoned over 35 years before being exonerated by DNA evidence pointing to a known serial killer

RENO, NV – Attorneys for Cathy Woods expressed outrage today and in recent filings that Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, through his deputies, filed a brief insisting that their disabled client travel across multiple states to testify at a deposition in order to receive compensation for wrongful imprisonment under a new law passed specifically to address her plight and that of others like her.

When the State of Nevada dismissed the charges against Ms. Woods in 2015, they agreed that the DNA test results – as well as the extensive reinvestigation of her case by law enforcement – exonerated her. And when the Nevada legislature passed a law last year to allow wrongfully imprisoned persons to seek compensation for their wrongful imprisonment, Ms. Woods’s case was specifically discussed. Attorney General Ford himself testified in favor of the law providing an avenue of compensation for people just like Ms. Woods.

“Despite all that, Attorney General Ford’s office today is not only refusing to concede Ms. Woods’s petition for compensation under the new state law enacted specifically with her in mind, but they seek to  recklessly endanger her life,” said Elizabeth Wang of Loevy & Loevy, one of Ms. Woods’s lawyers. “Forcing Ms. Woods to travel across state lines to attend an in-person deposition in Nevada, despite already admitting the horrible wrongs done to her, and contrary to the State’s own health guidance, is the height of irresponsibility during this pandemic.”

In filings made last week and available here [2], Woods’s attorneys pointed out that Ms. Woods is 70 years old and suffers from underlying health conditions, including COPD, which greatly increase the risk of serious illness or death should she contract COVID-19. In light of these facts, Woods’s attorneys argue that the “State has decided it does not really care about Ms. Woods’s serious medical issues or the prospect that, after 35 years of wrongful incarceration and declaring that Ms. Woods has been exonerated,” she might die as a consequence of seeking compensation under as statute that was enacted with her in mind.” Like other states, Nevada is currently experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Ms. Woods’s attorneys, which also include David B. Owens of Loevy & Loevy and Luke Busby Attorney at Law, hope to prevail in arguments before the court seeking an order that Ms. Woods not be forced to risk her life and travel to Nevada, but instead be deposed via videoconferencing.

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