August 27, 2015
Weil, in partnership with The Legal Aid Society, secured a momentous victory for our client, an Alabama death row inmate, when the State declared yesterday that it would no longer seek to impose his death sentence. 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. In today’s filing, the State declared that it would not continue to pursue the death penalty. Our client’s sentence will be commuted to a life sentence.
This extraordinary outcome follows on nearly two decades of tireless work by Legal Aid in developing the factual record, uncovering the mitigating evidence that should have been presented at trial, and laying the groundwork for the decisions overturning the death sentence. Weil team members include 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.