April 11, 2018

2018 Volunteer Recognition & Awards Dinner

Sylvia Krohn, Project Associate

Save the date!

The Project will hold its annual Volunteer Recognition & Awards Dinner during on Thursday, September 20, 2018, at 5:30pm at the historic Decatur House in Washington, DC.

The Project is honored to welcome former Virginia death row prisoner Joseph Giarratano to provide keynote remarks at the awards dinner. Mr. Giarratano was convicted and sentenced to death in 1979 and spent almost 40 years in prison, 12 of those on death row. In 1991, then-governor Douglas Wilder commuted Mr. Giarratano's sentence to life with the possibility of parole based on a clemency petition that raised issues of actual innocence. In November 2017, he was granted parole. While on death row, Mr. Giarratano took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where a divided majority of the justices found that there is no Constitutional right to counsel for indigent prisoners in capital post-conviction proceedings—a decision that stands to this day. The consequences of that 1989 case have shaped the Project’s mission for nearly 30 years.

Every fall, the Project recognizes the extraordinary contributions of our volunteer lawyers at this event. Pro bono firms are nominated by their colleagues for exceptional service to death row prisoners and honored with the Exceptional Service Award. The Project also recognizes an individual lawyer with the John Paul Stevens Guiding Hand of Counsel Award, which was first presented to Justice Stevens in 2011. This year, the Guiding Hand of Counsel Award will be presented to a pro bono attorney whose primary practice is something other than capital defense.

Sponsorship of this event provides us with critical funding to continue our important work year-round. For more information about sponsorships, contact Project Director Emily Olson-Gault at emily.olsongault@americanbar.org.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Mr. Giarratano was on death row for 40 years. It has been corrected to reflect that he was granted clemency and his sentence commuted to life in 1991.

Sylvia Krohn, Project Associate