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2018 Volunteer Recognition & Awards Dinner

The Project celebrated the outstanding contributions of volunteer firms and individuals at its 2018 Volunteer Recognition & Awards Event in Washington, DC.

Thank you to our speakers, sponsors, award winners, and everyone who joined us for a memorable and inspirational evening celebrating the achievements of our volunteer attorneys. We hope to see everyone back next year for our 2019 Awards Celebration!

Event Media


Program Booklet

Exceptional Service Awards

Every fall, the Project celebrates volunteer lawyers at its Volunteer Recognition & Awards Dinner. Pro bono firms are nominated by their colleagues for exceptional service to death row prisoners and honored with the Exceptional Service Award.

The Project is excited to announce the recipients of our 2018 Exceptional Service Awards:

John Paul Stevens Guiding Hand of Counsel Award

The Project also recognizes the extraordinary efforts of individual lawyers with the John Paul Stevens Guiding Hand of Counsel Award, which was first presented to Justice Stevens in 2011. The 2018 John Paul Stevens Guiding Hand of Counsel Award will be presented to volunteer attorney Gwendolyn C. Payton of Kilpatrick Townsend.

Congratulations to our award winners, and thank you to all of this year's incredible nominees for their commitment to providing outstanding representation to indigent death row prisoners.

You can read more about the awards and learn about past award recipients here.

Keynote Speaker

Joseph Giarratano

The Project is honored to welcome former Virginia death row prisoner Joseph Giarratano to provide keynote remarks at the 2018 awards dinner. Mr. Giarratano was convicted and sentenced to death in 1979 and spent almost 40 years in prison, 12 of those on death row. In 1991, then-governor Douglas Wilder commuted Mr. Giarratano's sentence to life with the possibility of parole based on a clemency petition that raised issues of actual innocence. In November 2017, he was granted parole. While on death row, Mr. Giarratano took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where a divided majority of the justices found that there is no Constitutional right to counsel for indigent prisoners in capital post-conviction proceedings—a decision that stands to this day. The consequences of that 1989 case have shaped the Project’s mission for nearly 30 years.

We are delighted that Mr. Giarratano will be able to join us to share his story and help us celebrate the extraordinary work of pro bono attorneys.