The Leader Law Firm would like to thank journalist Steve Kroft and “60 Minutes” for its powerful 2013 coverage of Louis Taylor.
In late March 1972, an all-white jury convicted Taylor of arson and murder related to the tragic December 20, 1970 fire at the Pioneer Hotel in Tucson. The fire was one of the tragic, infamous events in Tucson’s history.
In 2013, the Tucson Fire Department publicly acknowledged that there is no way to know if the Pioneer Hotel fire was arson, based on current fire technology.
Prosecutor Horton Weiss led Taylor’s 1972 prosecution. Weiss was a controversial deputy county attorney whose improper and unethical practices were well known to judges and local lawyers. Weiss was jailed after Taylor’s trial for misconduct in another case (occurring before Taylor’s trial). Weiss reportedly used racial epithets when referring to people of color.
Weiss, the prosecution, and detectives committed numerous misdeeds before and during Taylor’s 1972 trial, resulting in an unconstitutional conviction. After trial, the presiding judge publicly stated he would not have convicted Taylor.
In 1970, the Pioneer Hotel was a tinderbox susceptible to fire and an overall deathtrap. Escape doors were improperly locked, and there were no sprinklers.
In April 2013, Taylor’s 1972 convictions were invalidated, as they should have been – but only on the condition that Taylor pleads “no contest” to crimes that never occurred. This was and remained in injustice to Taylor, surviving family members of those who died in the fire, and all Pima County citizens. There will be no closure for this tragic event until Louis Taylor is exonerated.
On April 6, Louis Taylor celebrated his 67th birthday, having spent 42 of his 67 years behind bars for a crime that never occurred. Lacking evidence to convict Taylor and lacking evidence that a crime even occurred, the prosecution required Taylor to plead “no contest”; this was improper.
The Leader Law Firm and its co-counsel continue its efforts to obtain justice for Mr. Taylor.