American Bar Association Honors Philadelphia Firms

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The American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Representation Project will acknowledge Philadelphia law firms Reed Smith LLP and Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP’s role in ground-breaking, pro bono litigation of capital punishment appeals with an Exceptional Service Award on Wednesday, Sept.22, 2010 in Houston.  

“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 and make us proud.”  

Drinker Biddle & Reath partner and death penalty expert Lawrence Fox will accept the award at the 24th Anniversary and Volunteer Recognition Event in Houston, TX.  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 will accept 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.  Each of the four men were 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.

With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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