Jenner & Block

Colman Article Recounts Firm Pro Bono Client’s Rehabilitation

A year after his release from prison, a firm pro bono client - who spent 27 years in prison, 10 of those years on death row - now has a job, a good home and the support of family and friends – “keeping his promise” to the Jenner team that worked to secure his freedom in a complex, long-running case.  “Antonio” (not his real name) had been in prison since age 16, when he was convicted of killing a man who had been abusing him.  While serving that sentence, Antonio was involved in a prison yard fight and convicted of killing another inmate.  His two cases involved important legal issues, factual disputes, “outstanding judges and inept ones; excellent defense counsel and gross ineffective assistance of counsel; witnesses with integrity and courage and witnesses who blatantly perjured themselves . . . and just about everything else you could expect to see in significant criminal cases,” Partner Jeffrey D. Colman writes in “From Death Row to Rehabilitation and Redemption,” his update on Antonio that appears in the Summer 2013 edition of the American Bar Association’s journal Litigation

The firm secured Antonio’s release in July 2012 in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court Miller v. Alabama ruling that held that a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole for individuals under 18 who are convicted of murder violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.  Since his release,  Antonio has volunteered at a food depository, a homeless shelter and a prison reform group.  He has a driver’s license and has picked up skills – e-mailing, texting and using the Internet – that he missed during his 27 years in prison.  In a letter before his release, Antonio promised that he would never do anything to “embarrass or disappoint” the team that worked so hard for him.  “Antonio is keeping his promise and is proceeding with patience, strength and grace,” Jeff observes. 

Along with Jeff, other members of the team were Partners Anne P. Ray and John R. Storino and Associates Christine M. Bowman, Jason M. Bradford, Michael H. Margolis, Ashley M. Schumacher and Christopher G. Wells.