March 10, 2020
A Weil team in collaboration with retired New York Supreme Court Justice Alice Schlesinger achieved a significant victory in an important pro bono case representing a woman who committed murder while suffering from severe drug addiction and undiagnosed PTSD driven by years of abuse and trauma.
In 1995, at the age of 22, after enduring a life of violent physical and sexual abuse that began when she was an infant and continued throughout her life, our client killed a man who was a former “john” whom she considered a friend. She was immediately overcome with remorse and the realization of what she had done, and, the next day, turned herself in and provided a full confession. She was convicted of second degree murder and given a 20-year minimum sentence.
Our client is the embodiment of a genuinely remorseful, fully rehabilitated offender deserving of parole under the governing law: While in prison, she obtained a college degree, committed to her sobriety, became devoutly religious, has mentored other prisoners, and maintained an immaculate disciplinary record for more than 24 years while incarcerated. Nevertheless, she had been denied parole on three prior occasions when Weil took up her case in March 2019. On February 25, 2020, a New York Supreme Court judge granted Weil’s petition seeking to reverse the Parole Board’s most recent denial as an abuse of discretion. The court directed the Board to hold an immediate de novo hearing, which was held on March 3. Two days later, the Board announced its decision finally granting our client’s release.
The Weil team included partner Michael J. Aiello, senior counsel Richard Rothman, and associates Gena Gonzales and Frank Ungerer. The matter was referred through the Incarcerated Gender Violence Survivors Initiative, which the Firm, along with Sanctuary for Families, founded and is leading.