Jenner & Block

The Heart of the Matter Blog

June 23, 2016 Firm Wins 2016 Exceptional Service Award from the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project

Death Penalty Pro BonoThe firm has won the 2016 Exceptional Service Award from the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project.  In noting the “exceptionally strong” pool of applicants under consideration this year, the Project’s Awards Committee felt that the breadth of our past and present pro bono commitments, along with our influence on the development of capital punishment law, set us apart.

To read more, please click here to learn more about the firm’s submission for the award.

CATEGORIES: ABA, Awards, Death Penalty

June 9, 2016 Team Convinces State of Georgia to Dismiss Charges Against Client Facing Death Penalty

Death Penalty Pro BonoOn 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.

Please click here to read more.

CATEGORIES: Death Penalty

June 2, 2016

Moments in History: Jenner & Block's 100-Year Story

Victory in Witherspoon Case Reforms Jury Selection Process in Capital Cases

US Supreme Court Pro BonoJune 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.

CATEGORIES: A Jenner, Death Penalty, Moments in History, US Supreme Court

October 1, 2011

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1960s

Witherspoon v. Illinois Impacts 350 People on Death Row

US Supreme Court Pro BonoIn this landmark death penalty case, the Jenner & Block team led by Albert E. Jenner, Jr. helped stop a planned state execution of Mr. Witherspoon on constitutional grounds just a few weeks before the sentence was scheduled to be carried out.  Mr. Jenner argued that the jury selection process was unconstitutional and impermissible.  The US Supreme Court agreed.  After this ruling, an estimated 350 people on death row across the United States were re-sentenced.

CATEGORIES: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service, A Jenner, Death Penalty, US Supreme Court