Jenner & Block

BuzzFeed Publishes Feature Article on Firm’s Pro Bono Client Who Hopes Disproven Arson-Investigation Techniques Will Free Him

Jenner & Block pro bono client Adam Gray, 37, is the subject of a feature article about his attempts to seek freedom after serving 20 years in prison.  In 1993, at age 14, Mr. Gray confessed to and was later convicted of setting a fire that killed two people.  In 1996, he was sentenced to life in prison.   At the time, arson investigators concluded the fire was started using an accelerant.  Now, however, advances in fire science evidence have led many – includingthe Cook County Circuit Court – “to question whether investigators made the right call about what really happened” that night in March 1993, according to the article.  In June, Mr. Gray will get an evidentiary hearing, where he will be given the chance to present new evidence.  The hearing will determine whether the jury might have reached a different outcome if it had access to the new evidence.  In the best-case scenario for Mr. Gray, he would be granteda new trial. 

Titled “Making an Arsonist,” the article details Mr. Gray’s case from the beginning, including when an art teacher at Chicago’s juvenile detention center who met Mr. Gray in 1994 eventually came to believe Mr. Gray to be wrongfully convicted.  That teacher, Rebecca George, reached out to Jenner & Block, providing the firm with affidavits and other materials that she had collected.  In 2010, Associate Brij B. Patnaik came on the case, assembling three well-known fire scientiststo review the evidence. 

At the evidentiary hearing this  June, the team representing Mr. Gray will make the case that he is innocent “because arson science now shows there is no way this fire could have happened the way Adam described it in his confession,” according to the article.  Partner Terri L. Mascherin, who leads the team, is quoted as saying that “we anticipate the state will likely argue [at the evidentiary hearing] that there is other evidence of arson because Adam confessed.  For lots of reasons, we think that the confession is not reliable.” 

In addition to Ms. Mascherin and Mr. Patnaik, the team representing Mr. Gray includes Partner Daniel T. Fenske.