The award, which recognizes members of the legal profession for their service to the section in its mission to provide leadership in protecting and advancing human rights, civil liberties and social justice, will be presented at the Robert F. Drinan Award Reception during the ABA Midyear Meeting.
Tabak is a death penalty and civil rights lawyer and special counsel at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, where he coordinates the firm’s pro bono practice. He successfully argued the death penalty case Francis v. Franklin before the U.S. Supreme Court and played a leading role in securing Johnny Gates’ removal from death row after 26 years.
Tabak is the chair of the ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities’ Death Penalty Committee and serves as a special adviser to the Death Penalty Due Process Review Project Steering Committee. He was chair of the IRR’s Task Force on Mental Disability and the Death Penalty, which developed the ABA’s policy on mental illness and the death penalty and whose proposal was also adopted as policies by the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association.
Tabak has been a leader in the ABA’s efforts to recruit and train lawyers for indigent death-row inmates and has spearheaded the successful effort to have the ABA call for a moratorium on executions until various due process concerns are resolved. He is a longtime proponent of examining and addressing issues of fairness in capital punishment cases.
Among his other accomplishments, Tabak was awarded the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Champions for Social Justice and Equality Award from the Black Law Students Association of Rutgers School of Law and the New York Criminal Bar Association Award. As a result of his tireless pro bono efforts, he received the New York State Bar Association President’s Pro Bono Service Award.
The ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities provides leadership within the legal profession in protecting and advancing human rights, civil liberties and social justice. Representing nearly 10,000 members with a wide range of professional interests, the section keeps its members abreast of complex civil rights and civil liberties issues and ensures that the protection of individual rights remain a focus of legal and policy discussion.
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