The American Bar Association's Death Penalty Representation Project acknowledged Philadelphia law firms Reed Smith LLP's and Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP's role in ground-breaking, pro bono litigation of capital punishment appeals with an Exceptional Service Award.
"There is no greater responsibility for an attorney than to defend a person whose life is at risk," said ABA president Stephen N. Zack. "These firms are courageous, passionate and skilled advocates who are deeply committed to core principles of justice like due process and fairness, despite the demands of these cases. They represent the best of our profession."
Drinker Biddle & Reath partner and death penalty expert Lawrence Fox accepted the award at the 24th Anniversary and Volunteer Recognition event.Mr. Fox is a renowned contributor to systemic defense reform.He is recognized for his amicus filings, which were cited by New York University law professor Anthony Amsterdam in his letter nominating the firm for the award; for standards-writing; and as an expert witness.
Reed Smith attorneys Christopher Walters and David Kochman accepted the award on behalf of their firm.Reed Smith was nominated by the Southern Center for Human Rights and Equal Justice Initiative, which cited the firm's leadership in four death row cases in Alabama in 2008. In these cases, each of the four men was only weeks away from losing appeal rights due to lack of legal representation, and the death sentence in each case was imposed by a trial judge who overrode the jury's decision to impose life without parole.