December 31, 2011

Exceptional Service Awards

On September 14, 2011, the Death Penalty Representation Project held its 25th Anniversary & Volunteer Recognition Event in Washington, D.C., to recognize the outstanding pro bono contributions of Arnold & Porter LLP, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, and Fredrikson & Byron PA.  The Project honored former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens with its 2011 Guiding Hand of Counsel Award. Attendees also heard from Anthony Graves, a Texas death row exoneree. 

Arnold & Porter LLP has dedicated more than 50,000 hours to pro bono death penalty representation work.  Stuart Lev, a federal defender in Pennsylvania, wrote in support of the firm’s nomination and said, “the legal teams [at Arnold & Porter] . . . have developed extraordinary relationships with their clients . . . [though] this is often no easy task.  But the legal teams have made this a priority in their representation . . . and have devoted incredible time and energy to maintaining and preserving their attorney client relationships.”  The firm’s commitment to post-conviction capital representation includes past death penalty work in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, and South Carolina on six matters beginning soon after the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.  Arnold & Porter has also submitted numerous amicus briefs in death penalty cases. 

Dorsey & Whitney LLP has long been a leader in both pro bono death penalty representation and in education about the problems with capital representation.  Over the past 25 years, the firm has represented eight individuals on death row in Louisiana, Alabama, and Texas.  Dorsey attorneys also frequently speak at schools and in the legal community about their cases.  The firm succeeded in obtaining life sentences in cases involving issues such as ineffective assistance of counsel, erroneous jury instructions, and violation of consular rights.  Dorsey is currently representing three individuals on death row.  Dorsey is commended for its long history of commitment to educating the bar and the public about problems with the administration of the death penalty and for its dedication to providing the highest quality representation to indigent death row prisoners. 

Fredrikson & Byron PA has made a unique commitment to representation of death-sentenced prisoners in Louisiana for nearly 25 years.  Its 250 attorneys draw inspiration from Robert F. Kennedy, who is quoted on the firm’s webpage: “As long as a man is handicapped before the bar of justice because of his poverty, our task as lawyers is not done.”  The firm agreed to represent its first death row client in Louisiana in 1987 and has taken two additional pro bono death penalty cases in Louisiana.  Fredrikson attorneys have demonstrated personal dedication to their clients.  Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, said that Fredrikson attorneys “exemplif[y] everything good about lawyers and humans.”  The firm is celebrated for its decades of seeking justice for Louisiana death row prisoners. 

For additional information about the 25th Anniversary Event, including the Project’s 25th Anniversary video,  please visit