On March 2, 2020, nationally renowned criminal defense attorney Larry A. Hammond passed away at the age of 74 after an extended illness. Larry was a long-time volunteer attorney for the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project and a fierce advocate for death-sentenced prisoners. As a founding partner of the Phoenix law firm Osborn Maledon, Larry established a legal practice that has focused on capital defense representation for nearly 50 years. Former Project Director Elisabeth Semel wrote of Larry in 2001:
Larry, with the support of Osborn Maledon, has dedicated himself to representing individuals facing capital punishment in Arizona and to improving the indigent defense system throughout the state. In both respects, the quality of Larry’s work and the consistency of his efforts over the years not only exemplify the highest traditions of the legal profession, they are a model for members of the bar.
A longtime Arizona resident and a titan of its legal community, Larry variously served as Chair of the Arizona State Bar Indigent Defense Task Force and board member of the Arizona Capital Representation Project, which he helped to found in 1988. Larry also created and served as president of the Arizona Justice Project, an organization dedicated to overturning wrongful convictions. With the creation of the Arizona Justice Project, Larry contributed to the establishment of the Innocence Network, which now includes more than 60 innocence organizations worldwide. Over the course of his career, Larry was the recipient of numerous national awards and recognitions, including the U.S. Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service under President Jimmy Carter, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Professionalism Award, and the American Bar Association’s John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award.
Larry’s influence on the Project’s work and success has been profound. Larry played a critical role in implementing the 2003 ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases (“ABA Guidelines”) in Arizona and successfully petitioning the Arizona Supreme Court to require that appointed defense counsel be familiar with and guided by the performance standards outlined in the ABA Guidelines. Thanks in large part to Larry’s efforts promoting the ABA Guidelines, Arizona’s Maricopa County—a jurisdiction responsible for a large proportion of the state’s death sentences—now requires that its four public defender offices devote the training, resources and staffing needed to adhere to best practices in trial and appellate capital defense. Larry was also a pivotal member of the ABA Assessment Team that evaluated Arizona’s death penalty system and which authored the Arizona Death Penalty Assessment Report in 2006. For over 20 years, Larry continued to advocate for capital defense reform and for the implementation of the ABA Guidelines in Arizona, including hosting trainings through the Arizona Capital Representation Project focused on best practices under the Guidelines. Most recently, Larry advised on the development of the Project’s Capital Clemency Resource Initiative (“CCRI”), providing critical feedback during the Project’s creation of resource materials and helping the CCRI to connect with integral decision makers in the capital clemency process. Through his many relationships in the legal and political community in Arizona, Larry helped to facilitate connections that will remain critical to the CCRI’s work for years to come.
Despite his tremendous prestige and the numerous cases, causes, and organizations with which he was always deeply involved, however, the Project staff remembers Larry most as a kind and generous partner and advocate for justice, always available to brainstorm a new idea or help troubleshoot a difficult case. He will be deeply missed.