Mayer Brown, a leading global law firm, announced that the firm’s Houston office and Houston Litigation & Dispute Resolution partner Charles Kelley have been honored for capital defense-related pro bono work by Texas Defender Service, a non-profit organization working to improve the quality of representation afforded to those facing a death sentence in Texas.
Over the past 10 years, lawyers based in Mayer Brown’s Houston office have donated $3.5 million in legal time to death penalty representation. Notable cases include:
- State of Texas v. Deryl Wayne Madison – Found guilty of capital murder in 1989, Deryl Wayne Madison was sentenced to death. In 2009, after working on the case for more than eight years, lawyers in Mayer Brown’s Houston office secured the withdrawal of his death sentence in exchange for a sentence of life without parole. Mr. Kelley, a member of the firm’s US and global pro bono committees, and Houston Litigation & Dispute Resolution partner Bill Knull led the Houston team.
- Claude Jones – In 2010, Mayer Brown lawyers achieved a first-of-its-kind victory for the Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to exonerating the wrongfully convicted. Mayer Brown represented the Innocence Project and the Texas Observer in an action to obtain a strand of hair used as the key piece of evidence in the conviction, and ultimate execution, of Claude Jones. DNA tests had not been performed on the hair during the trial or appeal. Mayer Brown successfully obtained the hair for testing, which was then shown not to belong to the executed defendant. Although the decision came too late to help Mr. Jones, the win is a significant victory for the Innocence Project and its ongoing campaign to reform the rules governing the treatment of forensic evidence and help prevent wrongful convictions. The firm’s Houston team representing the Innocence Project and the Texas Observer was led by Mr. Knull.
“Our Houston office’s representation of individuals facing the death penalty reflects Mayer Brown’s commitment to due process, the rule of law and the principle that all individuals, including those of limited means, who face the ultimate penalty will have had access to the best and most thorough defense and protection of their rights available,” said Marc Kadish, Mayer Brown’s Director of Pro Bono Activities and Litigation Training. “We are therefore very proud of the effort our lawyers have devoted to death penalty work and the representation of indigent defendants. Besides the cases that Charles, Bill and the other attorneys in the Houston office were honored for, they also currently represent Larry Edgar Estrada on a death penalty case. This work is in addition to the firm’s death penalty work in Alabama, Florida and Georgia.”