Pro Bono Success Impacts Habeas Counsel and Death Row Inmates Across United States

December.20.2013

On behalf of our clients, Habeas Corpus Resource Center and The Office of the Federal Public Defender for the District of Arizona, we won a preliminary injunction motion in a matter of great importance to our clients and to death-sentenced inmates and their habeas counsel across the United States.

The order entered by Judge Wilken of the Northern District of California enjoins the U.S. Department of Justice from putting into effect a rule entitled “Certification Process for State Capital Counsel Systems” during the pendency of the litigation. If the rule had gone into effect, federal habeas review of state death sentence convictions would have been greatly truncated even if the state in question had not established adequate mechanisms for the appointment and funding of competent counsel in the state proceedings. Judge Wilken concluded that we are likely to succeed both on our arguments that DOJ’s process in promulgating the rule violated the Administrative Procedures Act and on our arguments that the rule is arbitrary and capricious.

"The injunction prevents DOJ from simply rubber stamping a state’s application for expedited habeas procedures and ensures that our clients won't have to represent indigent death row inmates in an uncertain legal framework," said Darren Teshima.

Our team was led by George Greer and included Darren, Catherine Lui, Marc Shapiro, Shannon Leong and Lynn Hall. "They not only delivered absolutely first-rate representation, but they exhibited incredible team work and selflessness," said George. "They worked late hours and weekends to meet our commitment to our pro bono clients while at the same time attending to substantial billable work. They repeatedly demonstrated a 'next lawyer up' attitude when one or more members of the team had to focus on other client work, or the birth of a child" [as in the case of Marc Shapiro].