November 14, 2017
Pro Bono Counsel Miriam Buhl, who has been widely recognized for her pioneering pro bono work, received the Innocence Project’s Advocate for Justice Award at its annual fall benefit on November 9, 2017. The event was part of the group’s 25th anniversary celebration.
In the words of Co-Directors Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck and Executive Director Maddy deLone, Ms. Buhl was honored for her “passionate commitment” to the work of the Innocence Project and for guiding “our enormously valuable partnership with Weil.” Under her leadership, Weil’s pro bono support for the Innocence Project “has advanced our legal efforts immeasurably.” The Firm’s most recent efforts in helping the Innocence Project review its backlog of thousands of requests for assistance from prospective clients who are currently incarcerated have addressed what is “among the IP’s most vexing institutional challenges.”
At the event, Mr. Scheck presented the award, noting that Ms. Buhl had served as the Innocence Project’s guide through the labyrinth of Big Law, connecting it in every instance with the right lawyer for each matter or solution required. So that the Innocence Project would never want for Big Law legal assistance, Ms. Buhl helped the organization develop its pro bono program to tap into that network -- not only at Weil but across the United States, and not just the national office but also the local Innocence Network affiliates as well as several international initiatives.
In his presentation, Mr. Scheck thanked Weil for its remarkable generosity in donating such a large amount of time to the organization -- approximately 9,000 hours since Ms. Buhl joined the Firm in 2005.
The evening also featured an Advocate for Justice Award for Benjamin Cardozo School of Law professor Ekow Yankah; the firsthand exoneration story of Everton Wagstaffe, who spent almost 23 years in prison fighting his wrongful conviction; and a special performance by the Exoneree Band, a rock group consisting of five musically talented exonerated men who write and perform songs about injustice and their own wrongful convictions.
The Innocence Project is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice. Weil has a longtime pro bono relationship with the organization on a national level, and we have assisted with dozens of matters to help free the innocent.