The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office could face an inundation of letters calling for it to overturn a nearly decade-old murder conviction.
That's because Josh Dubin, who heads the Perlmutter Center for Legal Justice at Cardozo Law School, was one of the June 1 guests on the popular podcast "The Joe Rogan Experience" and asked listeners to write the DA and ask for aspiring Oakland rapper Pierre Rushing to be released.
“What can you do as a listener?” Dubin asked Rogan's audience. “Grab your pens. Write Alameda District Attorney Pamela Price. … Ask her to please release Pierre Rushing.”
Rushing was convicted of murder for the April 15, 2011, slaying of Dawyone Taylor over an iPod. He’s been serving a 50-to-life sentence ever since, Dubin said.
Alameda County DA spokesperson Traci Grant did not respond to a request for comment by publication time.
Price was elected, in part, based on calls to right the wrongs of a justice system that she says has been stacked against people of color.
In her first months in office, she moved to dismiss cases she felt were weak and directed her staff to stop filing most enhancements, a legal term for conditions that can result in longer sentences.
Just this week, her office was granted its request for a dismissal of two of three murder charges against Delonzo Logwood, who has been awaiting trial for a 2008 triple murder.
As in the Rushing case, the prosecution relied on one main witness, who was given a lighter sentence for his testimony. He has since refused to cooperate in the prosecution.
“We learned back in January that this witness was not guaranteed to testify,” said Price in an announcement on Wednesday. “Additionally, his testimony was very problematic in terms of contradicting objective facts, and our ability to secure a conviction in any of the cases was extremely tenuous.”
The call for aid in the Rushing case was meant to not only help Rushing but also demonstrate the show’s impact, said Dubin, who has been a guest on the podcast before.
Joe Rogan claims to have roughly 11 million listeners per episode; the show airs on multiple platforms five days a week.
Dubin said that Rushing’s attorney originally got involved with the case after hearing Dubin on the podcast.
The attorney, Jordan Grotzinger, did not respond to a request for comment by publication time, but appeared to confirm that on a 2022 radio show called "Sway in the Morning."
“He was fingered by one person. Without this person, Pierre is not in jail,” said Grotzinger on the show, adding that he had argued that point in court filings.
That witness, he added, was known to use crack multiple times a day and only identified Rushing three weeks after the killing.
But that is only the first of many issues the conviction was built upon, the lawyer said. The same witness’s description of Rushing changed a number of times, Grotzinger said.
“Six inches, a 100 pounds and skin color. He describes a different person,” Grotzinger claimed about the degrees to which the witness’s description changed.
Grotzinger also said that two witnesses said Rushing was not at the scene.
In March, Rushing's appeal of a lower court’s ruling on the case was denied by the Ninth Circuit. Rushing has since filed another petition for release based on new witness declarations. Price has until June 19 to file an informal response.
This article has been edited in order to update the status of the case and correct the affiliation of Josh Dubin, who no longer works with the Innocence Project.
Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org