Press Release September 24, 2009

Goodwin Procter Receives ABA Exceptional Service Award for Death Penalty Represententation

BOSTON, September 24, 2009 – The American Bar Association has honored Goodwin Procter with its Death Penalty Representation Project Exceptional Service Award. Goodwin Procter was selected for this award based on the firm’s unyielding representation of death row inmates and support of anesthesia awareness in the context of lethal injections.

Goodwin Procter has a longstanding commitment to a wide array of pro bono work, including death penalty issues. In 2008, the firm successfully obtained freedom for Kenneth Richey, a wrongfully convicted death row inmate who was incarcerated on Ohio’s death row for 21 years. Richey was released from prison after a federal appeals court determined that there were flaws in the handling of his initial trial. Sentenced to time served, a plea to a charge of reckless endangerment allowed for his release and his return to his native Scotland. Prior to his release, Richey was the sole Briton on death row in the United States. Goodwin Procter advocated for Richey for 15 years and dedicated over 15,000 + hours of pro bono support on his behalf. The firm currently represents two other death penalty clients and has dedicated over 13,000 hours to these two matters.

In addition to defending death row inmates, Goodwin Procter has also worked to bring attention to the phenomenon of anesthesia awareness as it relates to the lethal injection of death row inmates. Anesthesia awareness occurs when a patient is assumed to be under the influence of anesthesia, but is actually mentally alert and can feel pain. Goodwin Procter recently worked with the ABA’s Death Penalty Representation Project to write an amicus curiae brief in the matter of Baze v. Rees, a case that challenged the constitutionality of executing prisoners through lethal injection.

The ABA created the Death Penalty Representation Project in 1986 to raise awareness about the lack of representation available to death row inmates and to address this urgent need by recruiting competent volunteer attorneys and to offer these volunteers training and assistance.  The project also works for systemic changes in the criminal justice system that would assure those facing death are represented at all stages of the proceedings from trial through clemency by qualified, adequately compensated counsel.

Award criteria included commitment to pro bono death penalty work through the number of death penalty cases handled; financial and hourly commitment in ratio to resources; attention devoted to the death penalty debate; and significant impact on the justice system through legal victory, legislation, and/or litigation. 

About Goodwin Procter
Goodwin Procter LLP is one of the nation’s leading law firms with offices in Boston, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Washington, D.C.  The firm’s core areas of practice are corporate, litigation and real estate, with specialized areas of focus that include financial services, private equity, technology, REITs and real estate capital markets, intellectual property, tax and products liability. Information may be found at www.goodwinprocter.com.