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Houston – Mayer Brown LLP scored a significant win in the death penalty case of Deryl Wayne Madison. U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas of the Southern District of Texas (Houston) declared that she would strike down the death sentence of the convicted Madison, granting habeas relief.

Mr. Madison was found guilty of capital murder on June 19, 1989.  Several Mayer Brown attorneys, who have represented Madison in his federal habeas proceeding since 2001, filed a federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus on May 15, 2002. The petition claimed that the State of Texas did not follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s requirement that capital juries must be permitted to give full consideration and effect to mitigating evidence about a defendant’s mental health and abusive childhood.  Since the inception of this case, Mayer Brown has filed three amicus briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court and one in the Fifth Circuit. The firm fully briefed the merits on summary judgment at least three times before Judge Atlas decided to vacate Mr. Madison’s death sentence.

In her final decision, Judge Atlas wrote, “The Constitution ensures that a jury cannot deliver a sentence of death without being able to consider fully and act on all a defendant’s mitigating evidence. Madison’s jury did not have a vehicle to give mitigating evidence full effect.”

The State of Texas will have 180 days to retry the sentencing phase or consent to Mr. Madison’s life sentence, unless the State elects to appeal the decision.

“I feel grateful to be in a legal environment where attorneys are committed to their pro bono work and where all cases are valued equally,” said Chris Richart, litigation associate and case lead. “I applaud the Judge’s decision and look forward to my next pro bono case.”

Mayer Brown attorneys on the case included partners Charles Kelley, Bill Knull and Brett Busby, and associates Chris Richart and Rebecca Stewart.