June 01, 2014

Federal District Court Commends Volunteer Counsel for Work in Capital Case

Meredith Gallen, Staff Attorney

In 2006, a Virginia jury sentenced Ivan Teleguz to death for hiring two men to kill his former girlfriend. Mr. Teleguz’s appeal was unsuccessful, and after exhausting his state post-conviction remedies, he filed an unsuccessful federal habeas petition in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacated in part the lower court’s decision and remanded the case. The Fourth Circuit suggested that the district court conduct an evidentiary hearing to reconsider Mr. Teleguz’s innocence claim in light of new evidence demonstrating that two of the prosecution’s three key witnesses had recanted their trial testimony. On remand, a pro bono law firm joined Mr. Teleguz’s defense team. That team sought and obtained an evidentiary hearing, but the district court again rejected Mr. Teleguz’s claims.

In its opinion denying relief, however, the court thanked pro bono counsel for their service. The court wrote that the “work by all of these attorneys [is] in the highest traditions of the legal profession.” The Project joins the court in applauding the inspiring and important work performed by pro bono counsel in Mr. Teleguz’s case.

Interested in learning more about representing a death row prisoner? Visit our Volunteering page or contact the Project at 202-662-1738.

Meredith Gallen, Staff Attorney