Legal Aid and Weil Secure Tremendous Victory for Alabama Death Row Inmate

The Legal Aid Society and the firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges won a tremendous victory when the State of Alabama declared last week that it would no longer seek to impose the death sentence on our client, an Alabama death row inmate.

Nearly two decades of tireless work in developing the factual record, uncovering mitigating evidence and laying the groundwork for the decisions overturning the death sentence made this victory possible. Congratulations to Legal Aid’s team that includes Marlen Bodden, a Staff Attorney in the Criminal Practice’s Special Litigation Unit; Josh Goldfein, Staff Attorney in the Civil Law Reform Unit; and Arthur Hopkirk, Staff Attorney in the Criminal Appeals Bureau, and to the Weil pro bono team members including partners Bruce Rich, Carl Lobell, Liz Weiswasser, and Greg Silbert, associates Adam Banks and Kami Lizarraga, and former Weil attorneys Danielle Rosenthal and Lucy Muzzy.

In 2014, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit overturned our client’s death sentence, holding that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel conducted virtually no investigation at the sentencing phase and failed to present powerful mitigating evidence to the jury. The Eleventh Circuit vacated the death sentence and remanded for the State to conduct a new sentencing proceeding. The State sought to appeal the Eleventh Circuit’s decision twice: first to the full Eleventh Circuit, and then to the U.S. Supreme Court. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the State’s certiorari petition. Thereafter, the State was ordered to show cause why our client’s sentence should not be commuted to a life sentence. On August 27, the State declared that it would not continue to pursue the death penalty. Our client’s sentence will be commuted to a life sentence.