March 01, 2013

Exonerated Death Row Prisoner, Volunteer Lawyer to Speak at Project's Annual Awards Event

The Project is delighted to announce that recently exonerated Louisiana death row prisoner Damon Thibodeaux and volunteer lawyer Steven Kaplan of Fredrikson & Byron will be the keynote speakers at its 2013 Volunteer Recognition & Awards Event.

In 1997, Damon Thibodeaux was convicted and sentenced to death for a rape and murder that he did not commit, based on a false confession he gave after 43 hours of sleep deprivation and almost nine hours of constant police interrogation. Mr. Thibodeaux spent the next 15 years in solitary confinement on death row.

In October 2012, Mr. Thibodeaux's name was cleared, thanks to a dedicated defense team from the Innocence Project, the ACLU Capital Punishment Project, and volunteer attorneys at Fredrikson & Byron. They proved that none of the 81 pieces of physical evidence in the case tied him to the crime. Mr. Thibodeaux was the 300th person to be exonerated by DNA evidence.

In 2011, Fredrikson & Byron received the Project's Exceptional Service Award in recognition of the time and effort the firm has dedicated to pro bono death penalty clients in Louisiana, including Mr. Thibodeaux. Mr. Kaplan, along with fellow Fredrikson partners Clint Cutler, Tom Fraser, and John Koneck, and many others at the firm, devoted 12 years to winning Mr. Thibodeaux's freedom.

This year’s Volunteer Recognition & Awards Event will be held in the evening on September 19, 2013, at the Decatur House in Washington, DC.