March 01, 2008

Law Firm Spotlight

Greenberg Traurig LLP and Patton Boggs LLP

In 2002 attorneys at Patton Boggs volunteered to represent Tony Barksdale, a death row prisoner in Alabama without counsel. Two years later, shareholder and volunteer lawyer Steven Schneebaum left Patton Boggs and joined Greenberg Traurig but retained a strong commitment and interest in continuing to work on the case. Tony is Steven's third death row client. Since 2004, Patton Boggs and Greenberg Traurig have combined their legal skills and resources and provided Tony with their best legal representation.

Upon taking the case, the volunteer attorneys realized that their client had not been competently represented at trial. In fact, the team discovered that the entire defense presentation at the critical sentencing phase of trial consisted of just eleven lines of transcript. In discussing the case, Steven remarked:

"The case reaffirmed what we all already know, which is that capital defendants who do not have vigorous and competent legal representation at trial will lose the rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution. At Tony Barksdale's trial, the entire defense presentation at the penalty phase was over in less than two minutes. The trial court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, and the Alabama Supreme Court on direct appeal, and the trial and appellate courts on habeas review, saw nothing wrong with that. It is shocking that people are put to death in the United States in the 21st century under such circumstances, but that is the reality we face."

Firm management at both Patton Boggs and Greenberg Traurig have been incredibly supportive of the work that Steven and his colleagues are doing on behalf of their pro bono client.