November 09, 2020
A Weil team in collaboration with the Innocence Project and Garland, Samuel & Loeb, P.C, an Atlanta-based firm, achieved a meaningful victory in a pro bono case representing Mr. Ronald Jacobsen, a man who had been incarcerated for the last 30 years for a crime that DNA evidence proved he did not commit.
In 1990, at the age of 30, Mr. Jacobsen was convicted of kidnapping and raping a woman in Georgia despite being close to 200 miles away in Tennessee with his fiancée and her family at the time of the crime. Upon being convicted at trial, Mr. Jacobsen was sentenced to life in prison. In 2017, DNA testing conducted by the Georgia Innocence Project concluded that the male DNA from the woman’s rape kit could not have come from Mr. Jacobsen. It then took two years for the court to overturn Mr. Jacobsen’s convictions. Rather than dismiss the charges, the Newton County District Attorney’s Office announced it would seek to retry Mr. Jacobsen and opposed his release on bail while he was awaiting a new trial. The District Attorney’s Office in turn offered Mr. Jacobsen a plea deal for time served that would have allowed him immediate release. Mr. Jacobsen rejected it ̶ he was determined to prove his innocence and could not admit to a crime that he did not commit.
In June 2020, Weil took up Mr. Jacobsen’s case to help prepare for his new trial and secure his release on bond. In October 2020, the court held a bond hearing and ruled that Mr. Jacobsen ̶ who is now 60 years old ̶ could only be released if he posted a $500,000 bond. Through an overwhelming outpouring of support and generous donations, Mr. Jacobsen was able to raise the $55,000 non-refundable fee to pay a bondsman. On November 3, 2020, Mr. Jacobsen was finally freed and returned to his hometown of New York. The Weil team will continue to assist the Innocence Project in representing Mr. Jacobsen to ensure that all charges against him are dismissed.