Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP received an Exceptional Service Award from the American Bar Association (ABA) Death Penalty Project during the ABA’s annual meeting in August. The award honors the firm’s long history of work on behalf of death row inmates in Alabama.
“This year's Exceptional Service Award winners do more than provide life-saving pro bono assistance," said Wm T. (Bill) Robinson III, ABA President. "They also ensure that our criminal system works fairly for everyone, and their work is a source of great pride for the legal profession.”
Since 1988, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings has represented 22 death row prisoners, including 19 in Alabama. Three have been removed from death row; two died while in custody; and one was executed. For the past decade, the firm has devoted over 1000 pro bono hours a year to death penalty work. More than 40 of the firm’s attorneys are currently working on the remaining 16 death penalty cases.
“We received a record number of nominations this year, but Bradley Arant Boult Cummings was a unanimous choice for our Exceptional Service Award. The firm has provided desperately needed legal assistance for prisoners in an extremely active death penalty jurisdiction, serving as both lead counsel on individual cases and local counsel for many out-of-state volunteer law firms,” said Robin M. Maher, Director of the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project. “Bradley Arant Boult Cummings’ commitment to justice is truly extraordinary, and we are delighted to be able to recognize the firm this year with our award.”
“We are greatly honored for this recognition from the ABA Death Penalty Project,” said Firm Chairman Beau Grenier. “Many lawyers in our firm have worked to ensure our capital punishment system is fair and accurate. We are honored to see their hard work singled out by this award.”
The firm’s most recent death penalty success is an award of a new trial for one of its clients. In October, 2011, a federal judge ruled that the prosecution had violated the client’s constitutional rights by improperly removing African-Americans from the jury during his 1987 trial. After pleading guilty to a lesser charge, the client has now been permanently removed from death row.
“We are dedicated to ensuring that our death row inmate clients have a full opportunity to challenge their capital convictions and death sentences,” said Chris Christie, Co-chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee. “We are proud of the hard work our lawyers do under difficult circumstances. While this work is not universally popular, we expect our other clients understand that our work on behalf of our death row clients shows our commitment to all of our clients.”
Bradley Arant Boult Cummings’ work on death penalty issues is just one of the firm’s many pro bono initiatives. The firm’s lawyers provide free legal services for a wide variety of matters, including the representation of indigent individuals and non-profit organizations. Bradley Arant Boult Cummings strives to devote three percent of its total billable hours to pro bono work each year. It is the only Alabama-based member of the national Pro Bono Institute.
Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP received its award from the ABA Death Penalty Project at an August 3 event in Chicago. More information on the award can be found at http://www.americanbar.org