December 01, 2008

Recent Law Firm Successes

On October 2, 2008, after eight years of hard work by volunteer attorneys from New Orleans law firm Deutsch Kerrigan & Stiles LLP, Louisiana Death Row prisoner Jeffrey Lynn Frost was re-sentenced to life without parole. Congratulations to Deutsch Kerrigan & Stiles!

On October 2, 2008, California firm O'Melveny & Myers LLP filed a joint agreement with the State of Texas and the Texas Innocence Network in support of Death Row prisoner Michael Toney's petition for habeas corpus. With this agreement, the State of Texas agreed that Mr. Toney's constitutional rights were violated when the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office withheld material evidence from his defense team. The State also admitted that the withholding of such evidence led to his wrongful conviction and sentencing. Congratulations to O'Melveny & Myers!

On September 18, 2008, New York firm Holland & Knight, working with the Legal Defense Fund, won relief for Death Row prisoner Herbert Williams, who was convicted of murder in 1990. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Mr. Williams' death sentence because his court appointed lawyers at trial failed to investigate and present critical facts about his life history, including the severe abuse he experienced as a child. The court held that Mr. Williams' trial attorneys were ineffective because they failed to find and present this important mitigation evidence. The court also directed the federal district court to investigate claims that the prosecutor deliberately excluded African American jurors from his jury. Congratulations to Holland & Knight!

On April 28, 2008, Atlanta firm Ford & Harrison won relief for Death Row prisoner Larry Lee when Judge Gary C. McCorvey reversed Mr. Lee's convictions and death sentence for a 1986 triple homicide. The Attorney General chose not to appeal the decision. Judge McCorvey called the trial case against Mr. Lee "flimsy" and "weak," noting there was no forensic evidence that pointed to Mr. Lee as one of the perpetrators in the murders. Judge McCorvey's order found the "full spectrum of prosecutorial misconduct" in the original trial, including withholding information and presenting arguments that prosecutors "knew or should have known were untrue." Congratulations to Ford & Harrison!