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Monroe's Fight Nears Final Phase

Still, Monroe, a Richmond resident, has not been fully free.

On Dec. 3, a panel of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit will hear oral arguments from Monroe's lawyer, Steve Northup, and a prosecutor for the state's attorney general's office, on whether the vacated conviction should stand.

The Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, a nonprofit professional organization of more than 2,500 trial lawyers throughout Virginia, supports the decision of the U.S. District Court in granting Monroe's freedom, calling her 1992 trial "constitutionally unfair."

Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore does not agree. In an effort to reinstate Monroe's conviction, Kilgore has appealed the U.S. District Court's ruling. His reasoning is that a jury found Monroe guilty and that a claim of prosecutorial misconduct was later rejected by appellate courts. However, the misconduct was not discovered until much later when the federal court ordered police and prosecutors to turn over their files.

After the Dec. 3 oral arguments are presented, a panel of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals plans to come to a decision during a period of a few months. Their resulting brief will either agree that Monroe's conviction should remain overturned or that the conviction should be reinstated, sending Monroe back to prison.

Monroe's case has garnered much local and national media attention. Her family has exhaustively fought for her innocence and calls the appeal "unfathomable." Legions of people across the country have also rallied to keep her free. A petition urging the attorney general to drop the appeal has gathered more than 3,000 signatures. — Brandon Walters

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