On September 28, 2012, Damon Thibodeaux became the 300th prisoner to be exonerated by DNA evidence. The decision resulted from extraordinary efforts of defenders and volunteer attorneys at Fredrikson & Byron to prove Mr. Thibodeaux’s innocence. Mr. Thibodeaux had been convicted of capital murder in 1997 based on a false confession he gave after 43 hours of sleep deprivation and nine hours of constant police interrogation. The firm’s exhaustive investigation revealed that Mr. Thibodeaux’s trial attorney had applied for a job with the district attorney’s office at the time of his trial. The firm also discovered that none of the 81 pieces of forensic evidence matched Mr. Thibodeaux’s DNA. After uncovering this information, attorneys at Fredrikson met with the district attorney’s office to convince them of Mr. Thibodeaux’s innocence, a decision that ultimately resulted in Mr. Thibodeaux’s release.
The Project congratulates the attorneys at Fredrikson & Byron, led by Steve Kaplan, Clint Cutler, Tom Fraser, and John Koneck, who have worked to prove Mr. Thibodeaux’s innocence for the past 12 years. This team worked in partnership with capital defenders including Denny LeBoeuf of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project and Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project. The Project honored Fredrikson & Byron with its Exceptional Service Award in 2011 in recognition of the firm’s dedication to Mr. Thibodeaux and two other clients in Louisiana.