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City of Fairbanks seeks U.S. Supreme Court review of Fairbanks Four case

The City of Fairbanks is challenging a decision that’s allowed a federal civil rights suit filed by the Fairbanks Four against the city to proceed.

The city announced that it has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The four Native men, who spent decades in prison for a murder that evidence later showed others were likely responsible for, are suing the city for racially biased and malicious prosecution.

Their convictions were vacated under a 2015 settlement with the state, but the Ninth Circuit Court ruled in June that the men are not barred by a past a Supreme Court precedent that requires judicially proven innocence, to file a civil rights suit.

A statement from the city says it was a: “significant departure from the well-established law set out by the Supreme Court.”

The city says a decision from the Supreme Court is expected in January.

Three of the Fairbanks Four are Alaska Native: George Frese, Marvin Roberts and Eugene Vent. Kevin Pease, is American Indian.

The men were convicted of the 1997 beating death of Fairbanks teen John Hartman, but another Fairbanks man: William Holmes, who is already imprisoned for other killings, testified in 2015, that a group of his friends, not the Fairbanks Four, are responsible.