Our Pro Bono Commitment
After representing Hector Torres Garcia in Texas death penalty post-conviction proceedings for nearly 10 years, the firm secured the reversal of his death sentence in December 2015 and then negotiated a deal that removed him from death row permanently.
Please click here to read more about the complex Garcia case.
In 2005, client Juan Deshannon Butler was convicted of possession of a firearm after he voluntarily turned over a gun that had been forced upon him at gunpoint. The trial court sentenced him to a mandatory minimum of 15 years under the Armed Career Criminal Act’s “residual clause” based on a prior conviction for “escape,” which involved walking away from a penal institution. Mr. Butler sought relief, arguing that a 2009 Supreme Court case clarified that “escape” did not quality under the ACCA’s residual clause. The US District Court for the District of Arizona concluded his claim was procedurally barred. In September 2015, the firm offered to represent Mr. Butler pro bono before the US Supreme Court, challenging the court of appeals’ denial of his motion for relief. By December 2015, the firm obtained a court order directing Mr. Butler’s immediate release from prison.
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On June 12, 2015, a team convinced the State of Georgia to voluntarily dismiss its case against the firm’s client Larry Lee, who had been on death row for 28 years. Mr. Lee had been convicted of three counts of murder and sentenced to death in November 1987, in Wayne County, Georgia, for his alleged role in the robbery and killing of a couple and their 14-year-old son in April 1986. Between 1987 and 2008, the case was on direct appeal and then went on to habeas proceedings. Mr. Lee always maintained his innocence.
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Moments in History: Jenner & Block's 100-Year StoryFirm Secures US Supreme Court Victory in Case Regarding the Right to Effective Counsel
June marks the 13th anniversary of the firm’s victory on behalf of pro bono client Kevin Wiggins before the US Supreme Court. Mr. Wiggins had been found guilty of capital murder after a bench trial in 1989; a jury sentenced him to death. But the two public defenders did not thoroughly investigate Mr. Wiggins’ background and, therefore, former partner Donald Verrilli successfully argued, failed to tell the jury of “powerful mitigating evidence” that could have spared him that fate.
Please click here to read more and see a video about the case.
Moments in History: Jenner & Block's 100-Year StoryVictory in Witherspoon Case Reforms Jury Selection Process in Capital Cases
June marks the 48th anniversary of the firm’s victory on behalf of pro bono client William Witherspoon before the US Supreme Court. The case would have major implications for how juries are selected in capital cases throughout the nation. In 1960, a jury sentenced Witherspoon to death. The jury was selected in a process that permitted the prosecution an unlimited number of challenges for cause with respect to any potential juror who expressed qualms about the death penalty. As a result, the jury that sentenced Witherspoon to death was composed only of people who had no qualms about capital punishment. Jenner & Block represented Mr. Witherspoon in a post-conviction review that successfully challenged the constitutionality of this process.
Please click here to read more about the case. Click here to read the opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court in Witherspoon. Click here for a recording of Mr. Jenner’s oral argument presented to the Court.