March 01, 2008

Recent Volunteer Law Firm Successes

On November 8, 2007, the Supreme Court of Mississippi granted penalty phase habeas relief to Fred Spicer on the ground that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate and present evidence of his social history.Congratulations to Skadden Arps (Chicago) attorneys Brandon Duncomb, Emily Haffner, Frances Kao, Amy Van Gelder, David Pehlke, David Prohofsky and Tina Tchen; Skadden legal assistants Julie Gilchrist, David Hertzig, and Mirjana Mirkovic; former Skadden attorney Hope Calder; and Mississippi local counsel Michael Adelman!

On October 31, 2007, Judge Lynn O'Malley Taylor of Marin County, California enjoined the state from using newly developed lethal injection procedures. Judge Taylor held that the state erred when it did not allow public comment, public hearings and independent agency review before issuing its new lethal injection procedures. Congratulations to Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP (Los Angeles) attorneys Brad Phillips, Adam Badawi, and GrantDavis-Denny!

On August 30, 2007, the Supreme Court of Mississippi granted post-conviction relief to death row prisoner Roger Thorson. Roger's case was remanded to the circuit court of Harrison County for a hearing to determine whether he is mentally retarded. Congratulations to DLA Piper (Chicago) attorneys Daniel Brennan and Richard Klawiter!

On July 12, 2007, the Supreme Court of Florida ordered a new trial for death row prisoner Merrit Alonzo Sims based on a finding of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Congratulations to Covington & Burling LLP (New York) attorney P. Benjamin Duke for this success. This marks the third case in less than a year in which Covington & Burling's volunteer attorneys have obtained a reversal of a death sentence.